TAMPA — As the Bruins jetted to South Florida following Monday night’s 5-4 overtime loss to the Lightning, there were some silver linings in the clouds.
“Well, Dad’s here, right? So, that helps,” said a clearly frustrated Charlie McAvoy. “He’s always going to tell you you did a good job.”
Charlie Sr. won’t be the only father lending a shoulder and dishing out words of encouragement. He’ll no doubt be joined by the rest of the dads on this Thanksgiving week getaway that wraps up Wednesday in Sunrise with a match with Panthers.
Brandon Hagel’s overtime strike capped a wild last 20-plus minutes of hockey that saw the Bruins lose a pair of one-goal leads and fall to 13-1-3 on the season.
Salvaging a point when they seemingly had 2 in their pocket was of little consolation on a night when the penalty kill was again sterling, squashing 5 of 6 opportunities.
“You can’t be happy with just one part of your game and expect to move on. We hold ourselves to a pretty high level and giving up two points like that, it’s unacceptable in our dressing room,” said Charlie Coyle, whose bar-down goal gave the Bruins a 4-3 lead with just under three minutes left. “We’ve got to close games out, so we’re not cracking smiles right now. We want to play well. We want to make sure we close those games out and get those points and when we don’t get to, we’re coming back the next day. We’re working hard and that affects us, but we use it as fuel, we use it as motivation and we’ll keep learning from it, but we know we’ve got to get better.”
Trailing, 2-1, entering the final period, Boston took its first lead when David Pastrnak (rising wrister from just inside the blue line) and Johnny Beecher (quick wrister from the slot) scored 1:21 apart.
They couldn’t hold it, however, as Austin Watson evened it less than a minute after Beecher’s goal.
Coyle’s goal (off a nifty behind-the-net pass from James van Riemsdyk) felt like a winner, but a high-sticking penalty on Beecher with 2:20 left created a six-on-four that sapped the Bruins’ energy.
They survived it, but with goalie Jonas Johansson still pulled, Steven Stamkos nailed home the equalizer with just five seconds left in regulation, sneaking one just under Jeremy Swayman’s blocker.
“Stammer willed that one into the net,” said Lightning coach Jon Cooper.
Tampa (9-6-4) dominated the extra session. Hagel, who was a thorn in the Bruins’ side all night, fielded a feathery Victor Hedman pass and split McAvoy and Pavel Zacha before beating Swayman between the pads.
Jim Montgomery took a glass half full attitude after the loss, noting that his club also overcame two one-goal deficits and killed five penalties.
“I think we need to develop a little more poise and understanding of the time and score and how to close out games,” said the coach. “I mean, obviously we give up two leads in a third. We never want to do that, but I loved how resilient we were. We just kept coming back. The belief on the bench was always that we were going to be able to win that game.”
The Lightning took their first lead when Tanner Jeannot buried a rebound of Tyler Motte’s doorstep shot. As Motte charged down the slot with McAvoy holding on for dear life, the two landed in Swayman’s blue paint. The goalie stopped Motte’s dribbler, but Jeannot buried the rebound.
Swayman said he thought Motte might have been guilty of interference on the goal.
The Bruins tied it minutes later. Marchand dug a puck out of the corner and centered it to Pastrnak in tight. As Johansson followed him across the paint, Pastrnak slipped a forehand pass to Zacha, who zipped it to the top shelf.
The Lightning regained the lead with just 30 seconds left in the second with Pastrnak in the box for roughing up Hagel.
Nick Paul redirected Mikhail Sergachev’s blue-line snapper past Swayman (41 saves), setting the stage for the wacky third, in which Boston scored three times on just four shots. They were unable to land any in overtime.
“We weren’t really connected in the offensive zone, and we were unfortunately not hanging on the pucks as much as we would like and that led to a lot of transition by them,” said Montgomery.