(Photo Credit: Bob DeChiara/USA TODAY Sports)

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

Bruins fans were itching for hockey following a ten-day hiatus due to the 2023-24 NHL All-Star Game. They may have been ready to go for Tuesday night’s tilt against the Calgary Flames, but their team was not. Here’s how it happened:

Slow Start

The Flames started quickly, scoring two goals within 15 minutes of the first period. Andrei Kuzamenko, who Calgary acquired in the recently executed Elias Lindholm trade, started scoring on the powerplay following a shorthanded Charlie Coyle opportunity.

“I just didn’t think we were good,” head coach Jim Montgomery said following the loss. “Our effort was poor. We thought, you always think as a coach that your preparation was good, but obviously it wasn’t good enough.”

The Flames added to their lead in the first on yet another transition goal. Connor Zary took a pass from old friend Nazem Kadri and cut through the blue paint in front of Jeremy Swayman, burying a backhand to make the lead 2-0.

“We just weren’t good in any area,” said captain Brad Marchand. “Their compete level was a lot hight than ours. You know, we figured it would be a little bit rusty, but we just didn’t have the effort, unfortunately.”

Bruins Fight Back

Following Calgary’s two-goal outburst in the first, the game settled down for almost a period and a half before the Bruins cut the lead to one. Pavel Zacha drew a hooking penalty at 2:48 of the third, and then Brad Marchand drew a four-minute high-sticking penalty, giving Boston a five-on-three. The team wasted no time converting on the golden opportunity when Pavel Zacha buried a one-timer to make it a 2-1 game.

There was a noticeable shift in the energy at TD Garden following the goal. A largely quiet and noiseless crowd came to life as Boston halved the deficit and still had three minutes of powerplay time. But the comeback wasn’t meant to be as the team’s power play unit took a too many men on the ice penalty, negating the man advantage and forcing them to skate four-on-four. Calgary put the nail in the coffin when Jonathan Huberdeau took a puck off of Charlie McAvoy’s stick and wired a shot over the shoulder of Jeremy Swayman.

“The power play units got a little bit mixed up because of a late change,” said Montgomery of the untimely penalty. He went on to take the blame for the mental mistake, saying, “It’s just myself not communicating well enough to the players who had the wrong changes.”

Noah Hanifin added a power-play goal near the ten-minute mark to put the game out of reach and effectively shut down any hopes of a comeback.

Physicality Ramps Up

Boston’s first tilt after the all-star break yielded an impressive 45 penalty minutes between the two teams. Both squads were assessed game misconducts, with Calgary’s coming in the first period when Brad Marchand took an after-the-whistle cheap shot from Martin Pospisil. The second came near the end of the game when Charlie McAvoy joined a scrum in front of Calgary’s net. Despite the lack of fisticuffs or any real fireworks, McAvoy was assessed a misconduct and thrown out of the game.

“They were extremely physical after the whistle all night,” said McAvoy. “And I don’t think we tried to match that enough.”

Boston will look to bounce back Thursday night when they take the NHL-leading Vancouver Canucks

Game Notes

  • With a goal last night, Pavel Zacha now has four points in his previous five games.
  • It’d been a while since Nazem Kadri had seen TD Garden ice, but he was quick to remind Bruins fans how much of a thorn in their side he can be. Kadri had three assists and has 26 points in 39 career games against Boston.
  • Andrei Kuzamenko was a force in his first game with the Flames. The former Canuck scored the opening goal and made his presence known across the ice. That trade is looking increasingly like a win for Calgary.