(Photo Credit: Winslow Townson/USA Today Sports)

By: Tom Calautti | Follow me on Twitter @TCalauttis and Linktree

For the second straight game, the Boston Bruins had the lead going into the third period, and for the second straight game, they came away with an overtime loss. Despite leading 2-1 at the start of the third, Boston surrendered two goals in the final frame before forcing overtime and eventually faltering to Minnesota 4-3 at TD Garden.

“It’s a terrible loss,” said David Pastrnak, the man responsible for Boston’s first two goals. “We should have won this game, especially with them on a back-to-back. We were the better team; credit to them; they stuck with it and got the win.”

Former Bruin Marcus Johansson opened the scoring at 7:44 of the first period on the powerplay. Frederick Gaudreau redirected a puck from the high slot on Linus Ullmark, and Johansson was there to bury the rebound. After that goal, the game got interesting.

Jakub Lauko stepped on the ice for the very next shift following Minnesota’s opening goal, and he decided to take matters into his own hands. He dropped the gloves with Minnesota’s Connor Dewar, landing five punches before eventually tumbling him to the ground.

“This was the first week I got the green light to fight, so I went into this game, and I could actually do my thing and play my game,” said Lauko after the game. “It was the first game I could play the way I wanted to (since returning from injury).”

Lauko’s fight galvanized the Bruins, and they knotted up the score less than five minutes later. Rookie center Johnny Beecher picked up a puck in stride at his own blueline and beat his defender through sheer strength and will. He then entered the zone on a two-on-one and found David Pastrnak for the tying goal.

“I thought it was the fourth line’s best game in a long time,” said Jim Montgomery following last night’s loss. “I thought Beecher had a couple of huge hits, made the great using skating ability and athleticism to set up Pasta on the first goal…they had a big impact for us.”

Pavel Zacha made his return to the lineup after exiting the team’s December 9th matinee against Arizona, and he made his presence felt quickly…and dramatically. With time ticking down in the first period, Zacha fought off a defender in the corner, cut to the front of the net, and found Pastrnak for a goal with less than one second left.

“It was great to have Pavel back,” said Montgomery. “He made some high-end plays, same thing with Charlie (McAvoy)…it was good to have those guys back. You can tell we’re a much-improved hockey club with them in it.”

“We communicate a lot together,” said Pastrnak when asked about his chemistry with Zacha. “Obviously, it makes it a lot easier that we’re from the same country and we’ve been with each other for a while. I love playing with Pav. Obviously, we’re trying to get better every day, but just like I said, ‘communicate’…that’s the number one thing.”

Boston controlled the majority of the second period and had a chance to capitalize on a powerplay early in the third, but Marc-Andre Fleury had other ideas. The Wild netminder finished the game with 40 saves (eight of which came on the powerplay) and at least four or five saves that I can confidently say were either pure robbery or unlikely to be saved by another goaltender.

“I could certainly see that he was playing at the top of his game,” said Linus Ullmark of Fleury. “That’s why he’s been in the league for a long time and is probably going to go out as one of the greatest of all time.”

Boston went on to surrender two third-period goals to Ryan Hartman and Kirill Kaprizov less than two minutes apart. With under two minutes remaining and the goalie pulled, Captain Brad Marchand came to the rescue, scoring a powerplay goal and forcing overtime.

Unfortunately, Boston’s elation was short-lived as Kaprizov buried the overtime winner on a three-on-one rush. The goal came on an unfortunate sequence as Jake Debrusk and Charlie Coyle entered the Wild’s zone on a two-on-two. Debrusk opted for a top-of-the-circle wrist shot that went high and wide, springing Minnesota on an odd-man rush.

“(Debrusk) has got to get that on the net; I don’t like the shot selection,” said Montgomery. “And I don’t like both guys going to the net, going all the way to the goal line. That’s what gives up the three-on-one the other way.”

The Bruins will have two days to lick their metaphorical wounds before they head to the West Coast for a short two-game road trip ahead of Christmas. Their next will be Friday, December 23rd, in Winnipeg.

Game Notes

  • Jakub Lauko was all over the ice and came mere inches from a highlight reel goal. The Czech winger attempted the ‘Michigan’ in the first period and just barely missed.
  • Patrick Maroon made a questionable hit from behind on Charlie Mcavoy. Jim Montgomery said postgame, “No comment. I don’t win with making comments on that hit.”
  • Morgan Geekie now has five points in his last five games.
  • Despite Montgomery’s praise of the fourth line, they played under six minutes combined in the third period.
  • I don’t want to end this article without talking about Linus Ullmark in this game. He was phenomenal and made several open-net/out-of-this-world saves of his own.