The B’s were less than three minutes away from at least claiming one crucial point on the road, then allowed two goals to drop a 5-3 contest to the Anaheim Ducks on Wednesday night.
Richard Rakell netted his second goal of the evening with 2:34 remaining in regulation to break a 3-3 tie, then Andrew Cogliano sealed the deal with less than a minute left after being hooked from behind on a breakaway with Boston’s net empty.
The loss was Boston’s first under interim head coach Bruce Cassidy (4-1-0), and proved costly in the tightly-contested Eastern Conference. The B’s entered the game in the final Wild Card position, but left Anaheim outside of the playoff structure, as just one point separates the seventh-place team from the tenth-place team in the standings.
Brandon Carlo put the Bruins ahead in the first period with his fifth goal of the season. After an icing call against the Ducks, the B’s had the matchup that they wanted on an offensive zone faceoff. Boston lost the draw, but Corey Perry whiffed on a pass, and the loose puck was corralled by David Backes. Backes sent it back to the point for Carlo, who ripped a slap shot past Anaheim goalie Jonathan Bernier at the 9:02 mark of the first.
Anaheim jumped out of the gates in the second period with a quick goal by Ondrej Kase two minutes in, but the Bruins seemed to regain the lead on a power play a few minutes afterwards. Ryan Spooner sent a pass cross-ice to David Pastrnak, who buried a one-timer past Bernier for what looked like a 2-1 lead. The goal was immediately waived off for goaltender interference, as Brad Marchand made contact with Bernier in the crease prior to the pass from Spooner. While it seemed like Bernier had time to re-establish his position in net and attempt to stop the laser from Pasta, the refs saw it otherwise. Not only did the Bruins lose a power play goal, but they lost their challenge, which would prove costly later in the second period.
Just 23 seconds after the “unsuccessful” power play ended, the Bruins reclaimed the lead on another blast from the blue line by a defenseman. Colin Miller took the puck behind the net before reversing it back to Frank Vatrano. Vatrano touched it in traffic to Backes, who sent it to the point again for Zdeno Chara. Chara had time and space to wind up, and blistered a slap shot past Bernier for his second goal in three games.
Anaheim wasted little time in tying the game back up, as Rakell sent a shot in on B’s goalie Tuukka Rask through the five-hole. Rask made the initial stop, but the puck squirted loose and Rask mistakenly kicked it into his net just 47 seconds after the Chara goal.
The Ducks took the lead with 6:48 left in the second, on a play that should have been called offsides and could have been challenged if the Bruins had not needed to use their challenge on the power play goal that wasn’t earlier in the period. Josh Manson stuffed in a rebound from a wrap-around attempt by Nick Ritchie, but the play was clearly offsides and totally missed by the on-ice officials.
The B’s tied the game at 3-3 with less than nine minutes left in regulation, as Vatrano broke free on a breakaway attempt after a brilliant two-line pass by David Krejci. Vatrano laced a wrist shot over the glove hand of Bernier for his ninth goal of the season, with Colin Miller picking up the other assist.
The Bruins’ defense inexplicably allowed two Ducks to get behind Rask late in the third, which led to the game-winning goal from Rakell. Kevin Bieksa had open ice in the B’s zone, and had Rakell on one side of the net and Perry on the other side. Perry came from behind the net and parked at the crease, and Bieksa hit him with a sweet pass. Perry missed the deflection attempt and the puck bounced off his skate across the crease behind Rask. Rakell took the loose puck and easily buried it into the empty net for his 24th goal of the year.
The loss dropped the Bruins (30-24-6) from seventh to tenth in the East, as they are one point behind Toronto and tied with Florida and the Islanders with 66 points. They will look to quickly rebound from this loss as they head to Los Angeles to face the Kings on Thursday night. The Kings (29-26-4) are also on the outside looking in to the playoffs, as they are two points behind Calgary for the final Wild Card spot in the West.
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