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Friday, November 25, 2016

Bruins Drop Their Third Straight Game as Their Goal-Scoring Has Gone Mostly Missing

Playing their third game in four nights (including a game on Thanksgiving for the 1st time since 1989) and on the second half of a back-to-back, the Bruins (11-10-0) looked predictably tired to start tonight's game vs. Calgary (10-12-1) at TD Garden. Still the Bruins got better as the time went by yet they found themselves on the wrong end of a 2-1 loss. It's been a rough week as they have lost their captain Zdeno Chara (lower-body injury) on Tuesday vs. St. Louis and now three straight contests. Boston had been 6-0-3 against Calgary in their last nine games with the last regulation loss coming way back on October 30, 2008.

Returning from injury and a rehab stint in Providence, backup goaltender Anton Khudobin (27 saves, 0-3-0) made his first start for Boston since October 22 (4-2 loss vs. Montreal) but he couldn't grab the first win by a Bruins goalie not named Tuukka Rask (11-4-0) of this entire campaign. Khudobin, Malcolm Subban and Zane McIntyre have combined to go 0-6-0 in 2016-17, is that bad? More relevant at the moment is the alarming lack of goal-scoring by the B's, after all they have been outscored 9-4 in this slide against the Blues, Senators and Flames (only 1 good team in that bunch).

It was a weird night what with former Bruins backup goaltender Chad Johnson (35 saves, 7-3-1) getting the first star of the game (he's won 5 of his last 6 starts and playing the best hockey of his NHL career) and something called Sam Bennett picking up two points. Oh and former BU star Alex Chiasson (who hadn't registered a point in 9 games) provided the game-winning goal. Did I mention that the horrorshow defensive pairing of Kevan Miller and Joe Morrow was on the ice for both Calgary goals? Me thinks that those bozos won't be together for too much longer, hopefully.

After a blocked shot in their own defensive zone, the Flames got a semi-breakaway that was finished by Bennett at 8:36 of the first period. Matt Stajan and T.J. Brodie assisted on Bennett's fifth goal of the season (his 1st point in 10 games). Boston had four of the five power plays of the night but sadly they weren't able to take advantage of any of them. Their only guy that can consistently find the back of the net this season-David Pastrnak-fittingly tied it at one at 5:55 of the third period. After sustained pressure on a power play, he was able to knock in a rebound with plenty of traffic in front. Tim Schaller and John-Michael Liles (celebrating his 34th birthday today) assisted on his team-leading 12th goal of the season (tied for 2nd most in the NHL).

Barely more than a minute later (1:10 after it to be exact), Chiasson roofed it past Khudobin after a sweet backhand no-look pass by Bennett from behind Boston's net. Flames captain Mark Giordano had the second assist on Chiasson's third goal of the season. Jimmy Hayes is still stuck on zero points in 19 games (don't ask me how that's possible) but at least he dropped the gloves tonight and got in a instant classic brawl with Maine native Garnet Hathaway. Just kidding, they spun around for what seemed like an eternity then Hayes basically gave Hathaway a rock bottom to drop him to the ice. Woo, good times.

You know that Rask will be back in net on Sunday afternoon (1, NESN) as the B's host the Lightning (13-8-1). It promises to be a pretty dead atmosphere on an NFL Sunday although the Patriots-Jets game starts at 4:25 p.m. Needless to say Boston could really use a win at this point, no matter how it transpires. Don't expect to see Chara back anytime soon although we still have no real idea what the big man is dealing with in terms of an injury. Without him in the lineup, the team hasn't been nearly the same group that they were through the first 18 games where they got off to a better than expected beginning.

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