On Thursday evening, the Winnipeg Jets ran into a red hot Boston Bruins team. Despite a strong start, the Jets crashed and burned, ultimately falling 3-2 by way of three-unanswered tallies from a home team that essentially never loses at TD Garden.
Josh Morrissey extended his point-scoring streak to 11 games, while Kyle Connor had his streak snapped in the process. Connor Hellebuyck made 34 saves, but it wasn’t enough, as the Jets fell 3-2 to the Bruins in a game that certainly slipped right out of their grasp.
“That’s the best team in the league right now and we battled them right until the end,” Jets head coach Rick Bowness said post-game. “Our guys worked very hard tonight, they did, they battled hard. That’s all you can ask.”
Much like that of Tuesday’s home win over the Ottawa Senators, the Jets struck first, and did so 1:58 into the contest. This time it was Mark Scheifele, who picked up his 20th of season off a nice strip play by linemate Cole Perfetti. Finding himself along in the slot, the Jets’ goal scoring leader turned and fired it past Jeremy Swayman, quickly putting his mates up 1-0 in a difficult building to play in.
Things got even tougher for the home team as Winnipeg found its second goal on just its fourth shot of the game. This time, it was none other than Josh Morrissey – who extended his career-high 11-game point scoring streak on the play – whose point shot was deflected by Jansen Harkins at the top of the crease. Harkins’ third of the year gave Winnipeg the final goal of the frame.
Neither team was able to capitalize on their respective man advantages, despite some strong opportunities. The Jets outshot the Bruins 13-10 in the opening 20.
Entering the game 8-2-0 in his last 10 appearances and coming off five days of rest, Connor Hellebuyck seemed to be up for the test on Thursday – at least through the first period of play.
The middle stanza, however, was a completely different story. Despite starting off strong, the Jets fall apart as the second period wore on. Tripling the Jets 18-6 on the shot chart in the frame, Boston applied some heavy pressure off the get-go. After a number of miraculous stops from Hellebuyck, the Bruins finally found a way to score – by way of cheap shot.
A centre-ice dump-in hit a stanchion along the end boards and skittered off net and out to the slot. With Hellebuyck still behind the net in an attempt to corral the disc, it slid right to David Pastrnak, who extended his 10-game point scoring streak by hammering his 22nd of the year into the wide open net, as Hellebuyck aimlessly sprawled around the post.
“All six of us, including Helly, are looking at each other, like, draw that play up 100 times and maybe it happens once,” defenceman Brenden Dillon said of the goal that sparked the Bruins’ comeback. “Obviously that sucks. We understood we have to keep playing; there was still half a hockey game left when that happens.”
That seemed to break the dam, as Boston found another just 2:52 later. With Mark Scheifele in the penalty box following an interesting tripping call, it took the Bruins just 39 seconds to bulge the twine for a second time. Once again, Pastrnak was involved in the play. It has his shot that Jake DeBrusk tipped, which eluded Hellebuyck, knotting the game up at twos with exactly five minutes left in the period. Winnipeg trailed 28-16 in shots through 40 minutes of play following a second period completely dominated by the home team.
In needing a strong period of play to pull ahead, the Jets came out flat footed for the second-straight period after cruising to the early 2-0 lead.
Putting up just 13 shots in the third, Winnipeg watched as Boston got the only goal of the frame, completing its comeback with its third-straight marker.
Scoring with 8:52 to go, Nick Foligno finished off a Charlie Coyle cycle play, beating Hellebuyck low, glove-side from the mid slot. A momentary defensive zone breakdown cost Winnipeg the lead in the third period, but it was the second period that cost the Jets the game.
“They are very fortunate to be healthy right now,” Dillon added of the Bruins. “We looked even more about this had to be a good test for us, kind of (show) our resiliency through the lineup. I thought we played well, it’s frustrating to not get a point.”
The shots ended up 37-29 in favour of the Bruins, who took both points and improved their home record to 18-0-2 on the year. Hellebuyck fell to 16-8-1 on the year, while his team will look to re-discover its winning ways as they travel to Washington DC for a battle against the Capitals at 6:00 PM central on Friday.