By MyFM's Jake Archer - If you had asked me if it was possible for the Boston Bruins to lose two straight games, I probably would've said no. The team lost both contests over the weekend and have a losing streak for the first time since mid-December. Is it time to panic? No, not even close so please sit down and relax.
On Saturday, the B's were in Toronto to take on the Maple Leafs (Maple Leaves?). Toronto would be without their star Auston Matthews, as he had sustained a shoulder injury a few nights before in a win over the Islanders. Missing Matthews didn't stop the Leafs from keeping up with Boston every step of the way. After Brad Marchand opened the scoring in the first, Toronto's Mitch Marner answered almost immediatley. Then, about three minutes later, Nazem Kadri put the Leafs ahead with a power play goal. The wild first period was coming to a close, but Marchand found the back of the net again for his second goal of the game and 23rd of the season. The teams would head into the first intermission knotted at 2.
Things would slow down a bit in the second, but each team would still grab another goal. Boston took the lead on a shot from Jake DeBrusk early in the period and Toronto drew even at the opposite end of the frame when Kadri added another power play goal. It was his second of the game and 23rd of the season, matching Marchand.
We went to the third period all even again and the score stayed that way until late when finally, Toronto broke through. Ron Hainsey smashed the game winner by Tuukka Rask on a one-timer from William Nylander with 1:23 left in regulation. The Leafs matched a franchise record of nine straight home wins and moved a point ahead of Boston for second in the Atlantic Division. It was a hard fought game between two of the league's best teams and Toronto stepped up and made plays when they needed to. The Bruins would need to forget this 4-3 loss and turn around quickly for a game the next day.
Boston woke up Sunday morning to great news as the front office had gone out and acquired Rangers star Rick Nash to signal that the team was pushing for a run at the Stanley Cup this year. The Bruins sent Ryan Spooner, Matt Beleskey, Ryan Lindgren, a first round pick and a seventh round pick to New York in the deal. A few hours later, they signed NHL veteran Brian Gionta to a one-year contract at a pro-rated $700K. The team was wheeling and dealing and so much had happened before the puck was even set to drop between the B's and Sabres.
I don't know whether it was the tough loss the night before or all of the movement on the roster creating a distraction, but when Boston did take the ice, things were looking off. For some reason, the Bruins have trouble with the Eastern Conference's worst team, the Sabres. Buffalo didn't even have Evander Kane in the lineup as he sat for the second straight game to avoid injury in case he is traded before the deadline. It didn't matter and the B's couldn't even be buoyed by the fact that Nash was already in uniform and making his debut.
Benoit Pouliot got the Sabres on the board in the first and Kyle Okposo added to the lead on a power play score just two minutes later. That right there would have been good enough, as Boston never mustered much in the way of putting the puck in the net. What they did get, was a goal from the young-gun Charlie McAvoy on a delayed penalty early in the second period. The hope for Boston was quickly snuffed out however as Buffalo's Evan Rodrigues put his team back up by two a few minutes later.
In the third, the Bruins were still failing to cash in. The Sabres really put the game away quite early in the period as Marco Scandella scored his fourth goal of the season. Rick Nash put the most shots on goal for his new team and looked pretty good especially having sat in the last two games for New York. Buffalo's Chad Johnson stopped 34 shots and picked up the win against a flat Boston squad. Luckily, they aren't making any excuses and Patrice Bergeron noted that the only new player out there was Nash while the rest of the team needed to be held accountable for just not executing. Hopefully that type of no-nonsense approach will continue to serve them well and not allow them to spiral into a longer losing skid.
The B's will head back home and host Carolina on Tuesday night as they look to bounce back.