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Monday, December 7, 2015

Bruins Return Home With Nothing Left In the Tank, Lose 3-2 to the Predators

It is no use to complain about the rigors of an NHL schedule; there are countless tough stretches for every club and the Bruins (14-9-3) are currently going through that as they just returned from a Western Canada road trip (3 games in 4 days) and had to play Nashville (14-8-5) tonight at TD Garden. Boston made it more competitive than it probably deserved to be before falling 3-2, snapping their season-high eight-game point streak (6-0-2). Then again, the Predators outshot them 33-17 so perhaps Jonas Gustavsson (30 saves) should get most of the credit for keeping it close.

Boston actually led 1-0 in the first period and 2-1 in the second period but they couldn't sustain it and actually went over 34 minutes during the game between shots on goal (even-strength). It was a penalty-filled rare Monday night game with 10 penalties called on Boston and six on Nashville. There were also two fights as Brad Marchand grappled with Roman Josi and rookie Tyler Randell took on Eric Nystrom, both in the second period. Nashville power play went 2 for 7 while Boston's was 1 for 3, one of the key differences in the final result.

Fittingly for such a strange contest, it was a battle of backup goaltenders as Gustavsson took on UMass Lowell product Carter Hutton (15 saves). Kevan Miller gave the B's an early 1-0 lead at 4:13 of the first when his shot deflected in the Nashville goal off of Colton Sissons' skate. David Krejci and Matt Beleskey assisted on Miller's second goal of the season (1st since Oct. 14). Nashville took advantage of a 4-on-3 late in the frame as Josi scored his first of two goals, from scummy Mike Ribeiro and Shea Weber at 19:35.

Boston's power play answered midway through the second when Loui Eriksson tipped in a beautiful cross-ice pass from Ryan Spooner at 10:53. Patrice Bergeron assisted on Eriksson's 10th goal of the season (9th time in his career). Josi showed some more of his offensive skills on the power play 27 seconds later as he went to the net and beat Gustavsson to tie the game at two with his seventh goal of the season.

The Predators continued to dominate possession-wise in the third period so it was only a matter of time before they went ahead for good. The unlikely hero was Viktor Arvidsson who deked around Gustavsson and put the puck in the net, after Miller had fallen over retreating in his own zone. Arvidsson's third goal of the season was assisted by former Sabre Cody Hodgson and Weber (who has 3 goals & 5 assists in his last 4 games).

For Rivalry Night, Boston travels to Montreal (19-6-3) on Wednesday (7:30, NBCSN)-their last meeting before the Winter Classic at Gillette Stadium on New Year's Day. With Carey Price out again with a lower-body injury, Tuukka Rask and the B's are due to play well for once up North. After that, they return to the Garden to host Florida (13-10-4) on Saturday afternoon (1, NESN).

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