DETROIT — The fallout from Monday night’s slugfest against Columbus left the Bruins without leading scorer David Pastrnak and third-line winger Trent Frederic Tuesday night.
Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy had planned on tinkering with some of the lines, but the injuries forced him to patch things together against the Red Wings.
The patch job only lasted so long. After jumping out to a 2-0 lead, the Bruins fell, 5-3, to the Red Wings at Little Caesars Arena, snapping their three-game winning streak.
To make matters worse, defenseman Hampus Lindholm suffered a lower-body injury with 4:06 remaining in the second period and did not return for the third. He played 13:52 for the night.
Cassidy saw the game as an opportunity for players trying to carve out spots for themselves — particularly on a fourth line that featured Anton Blidh, Jack Studnicka, and Marc McLaughlin. But the outcome left more to be desired.
“To me the guys that got a chance to play a little more, if you want to stay in the lineup now — we got some healthy competition — then you got to bring it on the ice,” Cassidy said. “That’s your best opportunity. No, we’re not going to judge everyone on one game, but we are moving along here, right, so there is opportunity that presents itself and you want to take advantage of it.”
Jakub Vrana had a goal and an assist for the Red Wings, who ended a six-game skid. Bruins goalie Jeremy Swayman gave up four goals, the seventh time he’s allowed as many this season.
The Bruins fired 50 shots at Red Wings goalie Alex Nedeljkovic and he turned back all but three.
“He played well, made some great saves,” said Patrice Bergeron, who cut the deficit to 4-3 at the 17:24 mark in the third period with his 19th goal of the season. “I think there were some really good looks. I think there’s some plays that we’d like to have back or to see them again. And I think there’s a few that we didn’t get the shot that we wanted, but give him credit.”
With Pastrnak missing from the second line, Taylor Hall and Erik Haula picked up the slack early. Haula gave the Bruins a 1-0 lead at 4:43 of the first period, trailing behind a two-on-two rush, waiting on a pass from Hall, and whipping a wrist shot by Nedeljkovic.
Haula came in with a 7-11—18 line and a plus-minus rating of plus-14 in his last 19 games.
The Bruins stretched the lead at the 14:17 mark, with Brandon Carlo getting his shot through a crowd of four red jerseys and past Nedeljkovic.
The Red Wings were on a power play when a turnover in their own offensive zone allowed the Bruins to break the other way and get off three shorthanded attempts. The puck found Carlo and with Moritz Seider, Tyler Bertuzzi, Lukas Raymond, and Dylan Larkin in front of him, Nedeljkovic could barely see Carlo fire the shot that gave the Bruins a 2-0 lead.
But the Bruins didn’t go into the break with a two-goal lead. Instead, another last-minute goal cut it in half.
The Bruins killed a late Red Wings power play, then allowed Dylan Larkin to score his 30th goal of the season with 40 seconds left in the first, taking a feed from Seider at the left circle and firing a shot off the far post to make it 2-1.
“I thought we were ready to play today, to be honest,” Cassidy said. “Back-to-back, we were OK. We were in the game. We just made some mistakes we couldn’t overcome.”
The Bruins have allowed 24 goals in the final minute of a period this season. The trend hasn’t been significantly consequential (the Bruins are 17-4-1 over their last 22 games), but it’s become more alarming.
“It shouldn’t affect the whole outcome of the game, obviously,” Cassidy said. “We’ve been through it so much, and it’s a problem and you guys need to stop on the puck ... I think it gives them life. I think they would have been better in the second no matter what, they’re at home, they would have had a push. We fueled their push a little bit so it mattered.”
The Bruins were in a battle on the back end of a back-to-back once Michael Rasmussen punched in Adam Erne’s deflection attempt to tie it at 2 at 5:46 of the second.
The Red Wings made it three straight goals when Jakub Vrana found room between three Bruins on the left side and whipped a pass across to Filip Zadina, who finished with a wrist shot from the dot for his ninth goal of the season.
The Bruins had trailed going into the third just four times in the previous 16 games.
Vrana made it four straight at 4:08 of the third, taking advantage of a Bruins line change and beating Swayman stick-side to make it 4-2.
The Bruins split back-to-back games for the fifth time this season. They are 4-5-0 in the second of consecutive games.
The Bruins have two days to regroup before visiting Tampa Bay for a high-stakes matchup Frisday night.
“There’ll be more opportunity, right,” Cassidy said. “Listen, you want them to step up. We’ve got a good character in the room, so hopefully they put their best foot forward Friday night. It’s a big challenge for us. It should be no issue getting up for that game.”
Julian Benbow can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.