Power outage costs Bruins in loss at Philly

Matt Kalman
January 16, 2019 - 10:58 pm

Ryan Donato sacrificed his face for nothing.

The Bruins wing went headfirst into the glass after a vicious check from behind by Philadelphia forward Jori Lehtera with 3:12 left in the second period Wednesday.

Lehtera was assessed a five-minute major and ejected from the game. Donato departed with a busted nose and didn’t return until the start of the third period.

Neither player missed much because the Bruins sleepwalked through the ensuing five-minute power play, and then they wasted another power play they earned less than two minutes after the expiration of the Lehtera violation.

The Bruins went 1-for-4 on the power play, but 0-for-3 in the third period and too much Carter Hart (39 saves on 42 shots) and Sean Couturier (first NHL hat trick) sent Boston to a 4-3 defeat, the Bruins’ second straight loss.

A team in desperate need of secondary scoring got a bit of a lift from rookie Peter Cehlarik (two goals, one during a 6-on-5) but typically the Bruins’ idea of secondary scoring is their power play. Ranked second in the NHL entering the game, the Bruins should have had their way with the 28th-ranked Philadelphia penalty kill.

Instead the Bruins struggled to make clean zone entries, and when they gained the zone they let the Flyers outnumber them in wall battles and their few shot attempts were often blocked. Just three Bruins shots reached Hart during the aforementioned five-minute power play. The Flyers blocked 30 shots total on the night, and that’s how a team that loses the shot-attempt battle 84-34 wins a game.

*The Bruins power play has been a strength all year, so there’s no need to panic. But it was appropriate that the Bruins got another up-close look at Flyers power forward Wayne Simmonds, who’s an unrestricted free agent after this season. Simmonds will be one of numerous rental forwards available between now and the Feb. 25 NHL trade deadline. He could plug in nicely on a second or third line and be a net-front presence on the first power-play unit for the Bruins. Since 2015-16, Simmonds is third with 44 power-play goals behind Alex Ovechkin and Jamie Benn.

The addition of Cehlarik to the lineup should just be the first step toward the Bruins making moves to solidify their team for the stretch run and playoffs – that is if Cehlarik isn’t part of a trade package for a Simmonds or Micheal Ferland from Carolina. In that case, it was fortuitous that Cehlarik scored two goals in his season debut.

*The calendar year 2019 has not been kind of Jaroslav Halak. His only win in three starts was a 6-4 victory against Calgary, when he made 33 saves. He has stopped just 66 of 77 shots since the new year and one has to wonder if he’s not quite adjusting to playing less. Against the Flyers he was way off his game and two of the four goals against were very stoppable.

*The Bruins are now 6-2-1 without David Backes. The difference between his other absences and Wednesday was that the previous ones were injury-related. He was a healthy scratch against the Flyers and despite his struggles keeping up with the pace of the game his voice was probably missed on the bench when the Bruins were squandering their early 2-0 lead.

One would expect Backes will get back in against St. Louis on Thursday. The Sean Kuraly-Noel Acciari-Chris Wagner line has cooled off the past two games and Backes could easily sub in for Acciari or Wagner on that line.

Related: Kalman: Time running out for Bruins’ young forwards to prevent a trade