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Monday, April 17, 2017

B's Improbably Rally from A 3-Goal Deficit In Gm. 3 but Once Again Fall 4-3 in Overtime vs. Senators

Playing in their first home playoff game in three years, the Bruins were so excited that they barely showed up for the first period of Game 3 tonight at TD Garden. In fact, Boston dug themselves a 3-0 hole but managed to rally with three goals in the second period before losing 4-3 in overtime on Bobby Ryan's backbreaking power play goal. The series couldn't be tighter thus far as Ottawa leads 2-1 yet every game has been decided by one goal and the last two were won by them in an overtime. The importance of winning Game 3 was apparent coming in as historically when a series has been tied 1-1, the team that wins Game 3 has won that series 67.3% of the time.

Rookie defenseman Tommy Cross made his NHL playoff debut and had an assist while rookie right winger Noel Acciari scored a goal in his first ever NHL postseason action. The Senators would never be called an explosive offense by anybody but that's exactly how they looked early in the first when they scored a pair of goals just 25 seconds apart. First the sublime Erik Karlsson connected on a long-range flip to Mike Hoffman for a breakaway that the underrated left winger finished by Tuukka Rask (28 saves) at 7:15. Derick Brassard doubled Ottawa's lead with a shot from in close, assisted by Ryan and Viktor Stalberg.

The Garden crowd was jumping from the start, it being Patriots Day and a beautiful spring day on top of that, but the B's did little to garner that love for awhile. Hoffman gave the Senators a 3-0 lead at 3:42 of the second period when he blasted in a shot from the point on the power play, assisted by Chris Wideman and Brassard. Boston punched back with a pair of goals in quick succession (42 seconds apart). Acciari tipped in John-Michael Liles' floater at 6:05 (2nd assist to Riley Nash) and then David Backes scored his first playoff goal as a Bruin at 6:47 after Ryan fell down (and lost both of his gloves in the process), assisted by Liles and Cross. By that point, the "Anderson, Anderson" chants were in full effect and Craig Anderson (17 saves) did little to calm things down when David Pastrnak smoked a one-timer by him at 13:51 for the tying goal. McAvoy and Spooner assisted on Pastrnak's first career NHL playoff goal.

The tempo along with the back-and-forth nature of this game was great and the Bruins seemed to take control in the third as they finally outshot the Senators 9-7 in that frame (after Ottawa outshot them 21-10 through 2). Boston didn't have anything to show for it though as Anderson made a nice stop on Kevan Miller's screened shot and then Hoffman hit the post with a hat trick bid. 60 minutes still wasn't enough to decide things for these chillingly even Atlantic Division clubs. Nash turned out to be the goat as he was whistled for a roughing penalty in overtime (after taking a Marc Methot elbow to the face). Boston's penalty kill survived for more than half of the two-minute power play (1:05 to be exact) but Ryan was able to work a give-and-go with Kyle Turris on the doorstep of the Bruins' net begun by Karlsson at 5:43 that gave the Sens an enormous victory on the road.

I wouldn't dive into the hot take machine and call Wednesday's (7:30, NESN) Game 4 a must-win for the black and gold since that is the laziest cliche in sports but it is ever so close. You can basically guarantee that it will be tight regardless (most likely a 1-goal game) so why not make it easier on themselves by getting off to a good start and not playing like garbage for 25+ minutes? Ottawa clearly has figured out how to get results against them and they have to be starting to creep into Boston's heads with these last two heartbreakers. It would also help if the B's don't allow two power play goals or take needless penalties on one of its best shorthanded players in overtime. Yes the call on Nash was harsh but blaming refs is never my bag so I'm going to pass on that one. There is nothing left to do but knot this series back up and return to Ottawa tied 2-2 rather than the grim prospect of facing elimination on Friday.

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