scorecardresearch Skip to main content

How the Bruins allowed the season-ending goal to Ottawa

Clarke MacArthur scored in OT of Game 6 to eliminate the Bruins from the playoffs.Michael Dwyer/AP

Even before Clarke MacArthur winged the Bruins’ season-finishing puck past Tuukka Rask, the end was already beginning.

As Derick Brassard controlled the puck at the left circle, Rask had to consider four threats, too many for any penalty-killing goalie to monitor.

Rask had to respect Brassard’s shot. Rask had to watch Bobby Ryan, who had been his responsibility, as the left goal-line option. Mike Hoffman was lurking as the backdoor threat. Rask had to keep tabs on MacArthur, the net-front presence, for a tip.

It explains why, when Ryan received Brassard’s pass, Rask was caught in no-man’s land: out and at the edge of the blue paint instead of sealing off the strong-side post. He was trying to do too much. By then, even though Rask got a piece of Ryan’s attempted cross-crease pass, he made things easier for the Senators by deflecting the puck to MacArthur’s stick.


“I kind of lost Bobby there,” Rask said. “He came behind the net, I think, and got in that dead area. I just got caught outside the post and I got the puck. I cut off the pass, but it went right to their guy.”

Naturally, Erik Karlsson initiated the breakdown on multiple fronts.

While Karlsson had the puck at the point, he drew the attention of Bruins penalty killers Riley Nash and Dominic Moore. Nash, who was marking Karlsson, played the defenseman for a shot. Moore closed off Karlsson’s passing lane to Hoffman. This allowed Karlsson to pass across his body to Brassard. Kevan Miller had to release to challenge Brassard. Miller could not recover in time to get a strong piece of MacArthur’s stick.

It was the second time on the winning power play Karlsson made the Bruins pay.

During the regular season, the Bruins killed 85.7 percent of their penalties, the highest mark in the league. Part of their success was because of how they started kills. They wanted to accomplish three things: Win the opening defensive-zone draw. Clear the puck down the ice. Impede the opponent’s preferred method of entry.


Patrice Bergeron won 56.8 percent of his defensive-zone faceoffs. Moore won 49.7 percent of his. Nash posted a 45.4 percent winning percentage.

‘Any time Karlsson has the puck, he’s obviously dangerous,’ Riley Nash said of Erik Karlsson. Jana Chytilova/Getty Images

After David Pastrnak’s mugging of MacArthur, Nash beat Brassard on the draw, allowing Miller to wing the puck down the ice. Job 1 was done. Job 2 awaited.

“It starts up ice,” coach Bruce Cassidy said before the first round of the playoffs. “We want to make it difficult for them to attack our blue line with speed. Generally, every power play, certain guys have more success carrying it in.”

Craig Anderson settled Miller’s clear behind the net. Of course, Anderson left the puck for Karlsson. The defenseman is among the best at helping his team gain entrance to the offensive zone on the power play, either with his passing or skating.

Before the winning goal, Karlsson used the former. He snapped a tape-to-tape pass for Ryan, who was posted up at the blue line. The pass allowed the Senators to bypass Nash, the first forechecker. The Senators gained not just a clean entry but one with speed, as Hoffman and MacArthur sprinted into the offensive zone, followed by Brassard and Karlsson.

By then, the Bruins could do nothing but chase. In retrospect, Nash or Moore should have taken away Karlsson’s pass to Ryan and made him consider secondary options. Easier said than done.


“Any time Karlsson has the puck, he’s obviously dangerous,” Nash said before the series. “You obviously want to get it out of his hands as much as possible. But I think they have some other good players who can lug the puck up the ice pretty well. Hoffman’s a good player. [Kyle] Turris is a good player. It’s just getting that pressure down ice, killing as much time 200 feet away from our net. If we can cause some confusion, that takes an extra 20 seconds, 30 seconds off the clock. That’s huge.”

The Bruins did this well earlier when they were turning Game 6 into Fan Appreciation Day by flipping pucks into the seats. The Senators totaled zero shots in six minutes of one-up time in the first period.

Thirty seconds of Sean Kuraly’s game-opening delay of game had expired before Karlsson got his first crack at a clean breakout. That’s because Bergeron won the first faceoff and Zdeno Chara cleared the puck. Down the ice, Brad Marchand’s pressure kept Anderson from handing it off to Karlsson. Moments later, Marchand regrouped in the neutral zone to send the puck down the ice again.

Finally, halfway through the penalty, the Senators entered the offensive zone cleanly. After the puck rimmed around the wall and up to Karlsson, the Senators went into their set. Karlsson gave the puck to Hoffman at the right circle. Chara blocked Hoffman’s shot, but Nash couldn’t clear the zone. Hoffman, who kept the puck from crossing the blue line, walked it down the right wall in search of a down-low option.


Hoffman backhanded the puck off the boards to the middle of the ice, where he had two possibilities: Ryan in the slot or Brassard at the left circle. Hoffman’s pass didn’t connect with either player. Nash and Moore had done their jobs.

“You’re not in a vacuum there,” Moore said. “Every player’s related to every other player. You have to read and react together. That’s the thing. You’re not only reading what the other team is doing, you’re reading what your own team is doing. And it’s always changing. That’s part of where experience and preparation come in.”

Nash, as the strong-side forward, forced Hoffman down the wall toward Chara. Moore, the weak-side forward, was in position to eliminate both options by sticking the pass away. The Harvard graduate had defended the T-intersection, as the Bruins call it, perfectly.

“He’s got a tough job,” Cassidy said. “The forward away from the puck has to have some pretty good anticipation of where the puck’s going. The forward on the puck side, what we try to do is push down to try and push him away, get him a little uncomfortable, down toward our strong-side defenseman. Some teams play a little more passive. The last thing we try and do is try to cut off the middle of the ice. Make that pass difficult from the half-wall to the top. That should travel through our sticks or feet, depending on our position. We shouldn’t allow them to just get it up there.”


The penalty killers did their jobs in the first period of Game 6. They slipped ever so slightly in overtime. That’s all it took for Ottawa to end the Bruins’ season.


Canadiens’ Price great equalizer

Carey Price is so good that he can erase mistakes, of his teammates and his GM.Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

The 2025-26 season is not atop anybody’s list of concerns. This includes Marc Bergevin.

The season in question will be the 14th and final year of Shea Weber’s $110 million contract. By then, Weber will be 40 years old.

If Bergevin remains under Montreal’s employment by then, he would be in his 13th season as GM. Such job security does not accompany Bergevin’s position. Six executives (Pierre Gauthier, Bob Gainey, Andre Savard, Rejean Houle, Serge Savard, and Irving Grundman) have gone in and out the door since the last GM lasted 13 or more seasons on Montreal’s payroll.

From 1964 to 1978, Sam Pollock watched over the franchise. The Canadiens won nine Stanley Cups during Pollock’s stewardship. Bergevin, on the job since 2012, has yet to win one.

This is to say that the noxious last season of Weber’s contract (assuming he has not been moved, bought out, or shunted into retirement) is unlikely to be Bergevin’s problem. It’s why Bergevin, on June 29, 2016, traded an in-his-prime P.K. Subban to Nashville to acquire a more limited band of Weber’s efficiency.

And it’s why, perhaps as early as the window opens on July 1, Bergevin will sign Carey Price to an extension that could carry the ace goalie to the end of his career. That Price will be 38 by the end of his next contract and destined to be in decline won’t keep Bergevin up at night. Bergevin will sign Price to an eight-year extension north of the $8.5 million that the Rangers’ Henrik Lundqvist draws annually. Price will still be Price for the first half of the contract, which gives Bergevin a higher likelihood of staying employed.

Price, after all, is the great equalizer. He’s so good that he can erase mistakes, of his teammates and his GM.

Bergevin has two of those assets in Price and Claude Julien. Both goalie and coach are good enough to make shortcomings seem less troublesome than they are. They are good fits for each other — a superstar goalie and a coach who demands defensive accountability.

The Canadiens’ airtight goaltending and defensive thoroughness, however, may not carry them through other trouble spots. Montreal is short at center on its top two lines. Although Max Pacioretty led Montreal in postseason scoring chances, the left wing turned none of those sniffs into goals. Alex Galchenyuk, the most skilled player on its roster, was a fourth-line ghost in the playoffs. The Canadiens have no choice but to hope the 23-year-old, restricted as of July 1, learns how to play center in accordance with the raise he will get.

“Hopefully he took a step back this year to take two forward next year. That’s what we hope,” Bergevin said at a news conference on Monday. “We think Alex is open to play whatever he wants, where he sees he can help the team the most and where Claude, as the head coach, decides where he could help. It’s not where he wants to play. It’s where he could be the best fit for the team to be successful.”

On July 5, Alex Radulov will turn 31. By then, the power forward will have a new deal, one that will make him very rich. Long-term megabucks contracts are risky to give players of Radulov’s age and style. The Habs have no choice but to meet Radulov’s price. Bergevin’s roster deficiencies elsewhere make proven scorers such as Radulov a must-sign. That’s not a good position for any GM to occupy.


Alzner’s profile raises red flags

Karl Alzner missed the start of the second round of the playoffs because of an upper-body injury. The left-side Capitals defenseman was not available for four games against Toronto because of the same ailment.

Alzner’s absence may further convince GMs to practice caution with the defensive defenseman when he reaches unrestricted free agency on July 1.

In some ways, Alzner would be a good candidate for any team seeking left-side assistance, including the Bruins. Before his injury, the 28-year-old had dressed for 599 straight regular-season and playoff games. Alzner, the No. 5 pick in 2007, has been a stable stay-at-home presence, mostly paired with John Carlson. For the last four seasons, Alzner has served Washington well for a $2.8 million annual fee.

But Alzner is due for a raise when he’s entering a tricky time for shot-blocking, penalty-killing grinders. During the regular season, Alzner posted a 47.36 Corsi For rating in five-on-five situations. This is not a good number on a team that was the NHL’s fourth-best possession club behind LA, Boston, and Montreal. Matt Niskanen, Washington’s best all-around defenseman, averaged 48.73 shot attempts against per 60 minutes of five-on-five play, according to Against Alzner, opponents averaged 56.97 per-60 attempts.

Alzner ticks off a lot of checkmarks: veteran, good teammate, durable player, eager to block shots. Teams like all those qualities. But they prefer them at both a younger age and a cheaper price than Alzner will be looking to earn. Unless the term is right, teams interested in Alzner would be best served with a conservative pitch.

Ivy partnership likely to end

Riley Nash and Dominic Moore combined for 42 points this season.Alan Diaz/AP

The Bruins have Riley Nash under contract for one more season. Dominic Moore will be unrestricted on July 1. So it’s likely that the Cornell-Harvard tandem has seen its last days. The debate over whether Nash or Moore can contend for Will Shortz’s puzzle job at the New York Times will have to continue in separate dressing rooms. “His crossword puzzle skills, I don’t know — he still needs me to come in and close it down for him,” Moore cracked. Nash, meanwhile, defended his title as puzzle king. “He’s probably learned a lot from me, like how to crossword,” Nash said of Moore. When informed that Moore considered himself to own the better crossword skills, Nash had a crack at the ready: “Some guys lie every once in a while, right?”

Drury not ready

Chris Drury has deep Buffalo ties, having starred for the Sabres for three seasons. Aside from that, it is puzzling why the Sabres, according to Sportsnet, asked the Rangers for permission to interview the ex-Boston University forward to fill their GM position. Drury is a promising executive. He was part of the team that convinced Jimmy Vesey to sign with the Rangers. But Drury has not even completed his first full season as Jeff Gorton’s assistant. It would benefit neither Drury nor the Sabres to accelerate his management development so rapidly. Drury will be a future GM, like former Colorado teammate Rob Blake. But not quite yet.

Ottawa analytics conference

Game 5 of Senators-Rangers, if necessary, will be on May 6 in Ottawa. On the same day, the city will host the Ottawa Hockey Analytics Conference at Carleton University. The conference will study protected lists assembled via a numbers-based approach. Co-organizer Michael Schuckers will also review his statistics-based entry draft model, published in last year’s Globe, which had Charlie McAvoy being the No. 3 pick last year. McAvoy lasted until the 14th pick. Registration is $35 Canadian ($25 for students). Click here for more information.

Loose pucks

Steve Yzerman will try to re-up Tyler Johnson, Ondrej Palat, and Jonathan Drouin.Chris O'Meara/AP

According to, Tampa Bay GM Steve Yzerman prevented a $1.19 million overage penalty from being tagged to his 2017-18 payroll by trading Ben Bishop, Valtteri Filppula, and Brian Boyle. It must have been agonizing for Yzerman to deal off three critical pieces from the roster that advanced to the Stanley Cup Final in 2015. But every free penny is important to Yzerman as he tries to re-up Tyler Johnson, Ondrej Palat, and Jonathan Drouin . . . The Bruins are likely to use the 7-3-1 format for the expansion draft. Projected protected players: Patrice Bergeron, Brad Marchand, David Krejci, David Backes, David Pastrnak, Riley Nash, and Ryan Spooner (forwards); Zdeno Chara, Torey Krug, and Kevan Miller (defensemen); and Tuukka Rask (goalie) . . . Rotten break for Joe Thornton to shred his knee heading into unrestricted free agency. The graybeard was rumbling along at his usual clip before his injury, which did not keep him from dressing for four postseason games against the Oilers. Given the severity of the injury, it would not be prudent for any team, including the Sharks, to sign Thornton to a multiyear contract . . . The Islanders were satisfied enough with Dennis Seidenberg to bring back the ex-Bruin on a one-year, $1.25 million deal. The veteran averaged 19:25 of ice time this past season as a depth defenseman. This could be Seidenberg’s last NHL contract. He will turn 36 on July 18.

Invite only

While the Red Wings, to much publicity, had their postseason streak end at a remarkable 25 seasons, the Oilers were happy to end their streak on the other side of the spectrum, having gone 10 consecutive seasons without making the playoffs until this spring. Here’s a look at the new leaders in both categories.

Compiled by Sean Smith

Fluto Shinzawa can be reached at Follow him on Twitter @GlobeFluto. Material from interviews, wire services, other beat writers, and league and team sources was used in this report.