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Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Serious Question: Will the Bruins Win a Home Game Before Halloween?

After dropping their first three games of the season-all at TD Garden-in humiliating fashion, the Bruins found some life on the road with a pair of wins in Colorado and Arizona last week. Boston (2-3-1) returned home to face the Flyers (3-2-1) who lost 2-1 to Dallas (5-1-0) in Philadelphia last night. For whatever reason, the B's continue to struggle at the Garden as they choked away another two-goal lead (this time in the third period) and fell 5-4 in overtime on Claude Giroux's power-play strike.

Once again, Boston's defense was a mess and Tuukka Rask (32 saves) didn't exactly help matters as he gave up another soft goal. He's allowed 19 goals in his first four starts at the Garden this season. Former Flyer Zac Rinaldo is likely headed for a suspension as he predictably took a run at an old teammate-Sean Couturier-and was called for charging with a game misconduct at the end of the first period. You could argue that it was a clean hit (something that he kept repeating in the dressing room after the game like he was Marshawn Lynch) but this seems to be a case of a bad reputation catching up to a dirty player. I'll never understand why the Bruins traded a third-round pick for this clown and actually thought that he'd change (he's been suspended three times in his NHL career).

The Flyers jumped ahead 1-0 at 9:28 as Canadiens wannabe Pierre-Edouard Bellemare poked in a rebound that Rask dropped right at his skates. Michal Neuvirth returned the favor as he allowed a rebound right to Brett Connolly at 13:28 for a goal after Patrice Bergeron took the initial shot. Connolly's first goal of the season was also assisted by Brad Marchand. Sam Gagner caught Boston on a bad line change and he used Kevan Miller's screen to beat Rask at 15:04. Believe it or not, the Bruins currently have the best power play in the NHL and once again, it came through as Bergeron batted a puck out of mid-air at 17:24 on the man-advantage. Loui Eriksson and David Krejci (who leads the NHL with 11 points) had the assists on Papa Bergeron's fourth goal of the season (his wife had their first child, a boy named Zack earlier in the day).

Neuvirth must have tweaked something on Bergeron's goal because Steve Mason replaced him to start the second period. Mason initially looked like a goaltender who had started last night and expected to have tonight off. Boston killed Rinaldo's five-minute penalty and also scored another special teams goal, this time a shorthanded goal that went off Chris Kelly's skate at 4:31. His second goal of the season was assisted by Eriksson and Zdeno Chara. The Bruins doubled the lead at 8:49 as BC's Jimmy Hayes scored his first goal on his new home ice (2nd of the season). He beat Mason shortside on a shot that many good high schoolers would have stopped, Krejci had the lone assist.

Everything was lined up for Boston to pick up its first home win and ditto for Rask. Instead, they suffered another terrible meltdown. David Pastrnak appeared to make it 5-2 with a one-timer but Mason stopped him with one of the best saves that you'll see all year (his glove snagged it right before it went totally over the line, or so said the replay officials). Giroux cut it to 4-3 at 7:48 after Kevan Miller coughed the puck up behind his net and Jakub Voracek fed him in front for an easy goal. Wayne Simmonds tied it less than three minutes later with a laser over Rask's shoulder into the far corner.

Ryan Spooner was called for hooking in overtime and even before that, you had a feeling that this wouldn't end well for Boston. Sure enough, Philadelphia's stars got it done as Giroux one-timed a pass from Mark Streit (3 assists) and Voracek. A loss is a loss and Boston got the cheap point out of it but make no mistake, this was extremely bitter for the Black and Gold. There is no reason that they should have fallen apart like that to an overmatched opponent like the Flyers (given their injuries and that they had played a good team the night before).

The B's head out on the road again, three of their last four games in October are all away from the Garden which is probably a good thing. They make their first trip to see the Barclays Center on Friday (7:30, NESN) to play the Islanders (4-1-1) who look like one of the top teams in the Eastern Conference. Boston returns home to meet the Coyotes (3-2-1) on Tuesday (7, NESN) before they spend Halloween weekend in Florida: at Panthers (3-2-1) on October 30 (7:30, NESN) and at Lightning (4-2-1) on Halloween (7, NESN).

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