Bruins finish road trip in a familiar way: Blowing a third-period lead



SEATTLE — It is becoming a habit. On Monday, the Boston Bruins handed away a third-period lead. It was the third time it happened on the four-game road trip.

You can see why the Bruins are happy to go home.

“You go into the third period with a lead, you expect to win the game,” Brad Marchand said following the 4-3 shootout loss to the Seattle Kraken. “We have to. Coming down the stretch, going into playoff time, you’ve got to be able to win those games and close them out. We need to be better there.”

In the first game of the trip, the Edmonton Oilers went hard at Jeremy Swayman in the third period. The Bruins responded with a Charlie McAvoy overtime goal. Two games later against the Vancouver Canucks, the Bruins’ power play failed to turn a 2-0 game in the third into a three-goal lead.

On Monday, it was chase mode in the defensive zone early in the third period that cracked the Bruins. They showed little interest in possessing the puck, winning battles in front of Linus Ullmark or going on the attack. Their 2-1 edge, courtesy of two David Pastrnak snipes, was not going to hold.

The Bruins, it seems, are exploring every possible manner in which they can hand away third-period leads.

“Sometimes when you’re in that situation and things don’t go well, you wait for things to happen instead of making them happen,” said coach Jim Montgomery. “I think we’re waiting for things to happen. We don’t have the right attitudes to start thirds with the lead.”

The Kraken hammered Ullmark with eight straight shots to start the third. Ullmark turned them all aside. His best stop was in the opening minute when he snatched Jaden Schwartz’s close-range shot.

But Ullmark had no chance on Seattle’s ninth shot of the third. After Yanni Gourde won an offensive-zone faceoff against Trent Frederic, Vince Dunn wound up a shot from the left point. All Ullmark could see were bodies that his defensemen could not clear. Ullmark could not get a bead on Dunn’s shot.

The game was tied, 2-2. By then, the Kraken had a 9-0 shot advantage in the third.

“There’s good teams in this league and they’re going to make a push,” said ex-Kraken Morgan Geekie, his right cheek swollen after taking a Kevin Shattenkirk puck to the face. “But I think we’ve got a lot going for us. One of the things we can work on is putting teams away and staying on our game for 60 minutes.”

Later in the third, Geekie believed he had countered Dunn’s goal with one of his own. The No. 3 center drove to the net, entered the crease and jammed a forehand shot past Phillip Grubauer. But the Kraken challenged for goalie interference.

Referees Frederic L’Ecuyer and Brandon Blandina upheld Seattle’s challenge. According to Rule 69.3, if an attacking player initiates contact with the goalie and the netminder is inside the crease, the goal is disallowed. The video review showed Geekie’s legs striking Grubauer’s pads.

“I came in and lost my footing a little bit,” said Geekie. “There was a little bit of pressure on the back. The puck was around him, I thought. I don’t know if he was going to get it regardless of what happened. If they thought there was contact there that hampered him from making the save, that’s what they see. I’m not the one making calls. But yeah, that’s what it is.”

The Kraken pulled ahead when Oliver Bjorkstrand deflected Will Borgen’s one-timer past Ullmark. But Pastrnak drew a tripping call on Jordan Eberle with 4:45 left in regulation.

On the power play, Pastrnak usually sets up at the left elbow for one-time looks. This time, Pastrnak shifted to his strong side. The adjustment put Pastrnak in the right spot to accept Marchand’s seam pass once Pavel Zacha’s forecheck forced Brandon Tanev to cough up the puck. After a slight hesitation, Pastrnak ripped a shot from the top of the right circle that Grubauer could not grab.

Fans who tossed their hats believed it was Pastrnak’s third goal. After the game, off-ice officials credited Charlie Coyle with the goal for deflecting Pastrnak’s shot.

The Bruins, however, played with fire once more. Twenty-five seconds after making it a 3-3 game, Danton Heinen high-sticked Dunn in the offensive zone. The penalty kill limited Seattle to one power-play shot, a Bjorkstrand attempt that Ullmark turned back.

“Linus stood on his head tonight. He played unbelievable,” Parker Wotherspoon said. “We were just trying to get him to see shooting lanes. I thought we did a good job of that.”

After staying over in Seattle, the Bruins will stagger home on Tuesday with 5 points on their road swing. In one way, it’s a satisfactory sum. In another way, their inability to finish opponents left them unhappy.

“It’s a good trip, but it definitely doesn’t feel like you got five out of eight,” said Pastrnak. “Every game was overtime if I’m not mistaken, right? So, tough one. We could have ended it. We could have gone the other way. We could have gotten the win. Unfortunately, we didn’t. Five points, it’s good for the standings. But it would be much sweeter with the win.”

(Photo of David Pastrnak celebrating his first-period goal with Jake DeBrusk: Steph Chambers/Getty Images)





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