Kevan Miller

5 Things We Learned: Bruins lose early lead in Atlantic Division showdown, fall to Tampa 4-1

Ken Laird
February 28, 2016 - 4:13 pm

The Bruins got a rare goal from defenseman Kevan Miller — a point-shot wrister off a clean faceoff win by Joonas Kemppainen — and took a 1-0 lead over Tampa Bay just over six minutes into Sunday night's Atlantic Division, second-place showdown at TD Garden. However, the Bruins decidedly lost the special-teams battle on the night and it cost Boston both the lead and the game as the Lightning scored the next four goals en route to a 4-1 victory. Tampa Bay now has extended a two-point lead over Boston in the Atlantic standings while also pulling two points behind division-leading Florida, who lost in Minnesota on Sunday. With the Boston loss, idle Detroit now also has a game-in-hand on the B's as the Red Wings trail the Bruins by just one point for third place. Here are four more things we learned Sunday: CHECK RINALDO'S HEAD, RINALDO CHECKS HEAD Fourth-line forward Zac Rinaldo was placed on waivers by the Bruins on Sunday to create possible salary cap flexibility in advance of Monday's NHL trade deadline. If Rinaldo passes through waivers unclaimed — the process completes in 24 hours, in this case by noon Monday — Boston can free up Rinaldo's $850,000 cap hit by loaning him to the American Hockey League. However, perhaps the prospect of changing teams had Rinaldo on tilt as his first period check to the head of Tampa's Cedric Paquette sent Rinaldo to the penalty box and Paquette down the tunnel to be examined. The Lightning scored on the ensuing power play to erase Boston's 1-0 lead, as Alex Killorn's twisted wrister beat Tuukka Rask over his glove on the rush, tying the contest 1-1 with 8:41 remaining in the period. WELL, ISN'T THAT SPECIAL Entering action Sunday the Bruins had the NHL's fourth-best power play, clicking at 22.2% on the year, and the league's 10th best penalty killing unit, operating at 82.6% efficiency. However, those numbers have been in serious decline of late. Tampa Bay went two-for-three on their man advantage on Sunday — with Ryan Callahan's second-period tip of a point shot giving the Lightning a 3-1 lead — as the Bruins have now allowed power play goals in nine of their past 16 contests. The B's have killed off just 37 of 51 penalties (73%) in those 16 games. On their own power play, Boston went 0-for-6 Sunday to drop their rate to just 6-of-66 (9%) in the past 21 games. The B's racked up ten shots on the six power play chances, but could not beat Tampa goalie Ben Bishop. Forward Jimmy Hayes had a great opportunity to tie the game at 2-2 in the second period as Brad Marchand's pass from the half-wall found his tape right in front, but Hayes could not make good contact and his shot trickled wide. SHOT OF PENALTY On top of the Bruins' PK woes Sunday, Tampa's Steven Stamkos was awarded a penalty shot midway through the second period as Marchand made contact with Stamkos' head while backtracking to try and prevent a breakaway. Stamkos buried the the opportunity, freezing Tuukka Rask on a forehand fake before going wide and sliding it past Rask's extended leg pad to extend Tampa's lead to 4-1. It was the league's 52nd penalty shot attempt of the season, with 17 of those now having been converted. The Columbus Blue Jackets also netted a penalty shot goal against Boston this season, as on February 16 Alexander Wennberg beat Rask. Boston has scored on all three of their PS attempts this year, with Brad Marchand beating Calgary's Karri Ramo on December 4th and Buffalo's Robin Lehner on February 6th, in addition to David Pastrnak's goal against Pittsburgh's Marc-Andre Fleury last week on February 24. TRADE-DEADLINE OUTLOOK The Bruins now have 19 games left on the season, with six Atlantic Division games remaining (two against Florida, one each against Tampa, Detroit, Ottawa, and Toronto). The NHL's Trade Deadline looms at 3pm on Monday. Ten of Boston's next 12 games are against teams currently slotted to make the NHL playoffs. Sunday began a stretch of eight games in 14 days for Boston with six of those eight being home games. After that span, the Bruins will hit the road for eight of the next nine. Boston's home record fell to 13-16-3, with their road record remaining an NHL-best 21-7-3.