Bruins hit a sour note down in Nashville

mark humphrey/AP

Tuukka Rask (left) did rare relief work after Anton Khudobin (right) was pulled in the second period.

By Globe Staff 

When all you want is everything Boston sports: “Season Ticket”

A few thoughts, observations, and random shots high off the glass following the Bruins’ 5-3 loss to the Predators Monday night in Nashville.

  Give a good team a handful of lollipop chances and, voila, you get nights like the Bruins experienced in Music City. Rookie Charlie McAvoy, though he did score a power-play goal, finished an egregious minus-3. Would have been a minus-4 had it not been for Anton Khudobin’s great stop on Roman Josi in the first period when McAvoy was caught too far up ice on an early attempt to attack the net.


  David Backes picked up his 500th career point, an assist (No. 277) on Zdeno Chara’s third goal of the season.

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“A special thing,” said Backes. “It’s an honor, a testament to a lot of the guys that I’ve played with who’ve made me look good. A win would have been much more sweet, but would like to get 501 and a win on Thursday.”

  Khudobin, who suffered his first regulation loss of the season (7-1-2), was victimized by shoddy defense, yielding four goals on only 14 shots.

“We left him out to dry completely,” said Torey Krug. “He didn’t have a chance on many of those. I know we have to be better for Doby, for sure.”

  Look for Tuukka Rask to get the start Thursday with the Coyotes in town. For a guy not accustomed to the reliever’s role, he was sharp after taking over for Khudobin early in the second period, although he faced only three shots in the second period and eight more in the third.


  A rare off night for Patrice Bergeron in the faceoff circle, where he lost 56 percent of his drops (11 for 25).

  The goal by Chara, off a 57-foot wrister that took a weird hop 3 feet in front of Pekka Rinne, was proof again that a shot on net is always the best option. No telling what can happen — and maybe more bounce shots are in order. It was also Chara’s first goal this year that was not a game-winner.

  The Boston power play is now 3 for 37 over the last 13 games. Some fixin’ is in order. McAvoy ripped home a one-timer off a sweet dish by fellow rookie Danton Heinen. McAvoy’s PP time thus far has been almost exclusively on the No. 2 unit. Perhaps time to bump him up to prime-time duty? When a power play is delivering at 8.1 percent, it’s not about messing with success.

  Kyle Turris, dealt to the Predators from Ottawa as part of the Matt Duchene deal, picked up two helpers. Riding with Craig Smith (two goals) and Kevin Fiala (one goal), he has shaped a line that has gone 13-19—32 in the 12 games since his arrival.

  Lost in the shuffle: The Bruins landed 40 shots on Rinne (to only 25 on the Khudobin-Rask combo). The total was second only to the 42 they put on the Ducks Nov. 15 — another losing effort, by the way.

With Jake DeBrusk likely to return Thursday, after getting his head rattled 10 days ago vs. the Oilers, a roster move is likely in order. Coach Bruce Cassidy acknowledged a potential move Monday, but gave no indication who might be shuffled.


Rookie winger Anders Bjork had a very quiet night — one shot attempt (on net) in 12:14. Only his second game back after getting cranked by Toronto’s Matt Martin on an open-ice hit Nov. 11.

“My welcome-to-the-NHL moment,’’ said Bjork. “I’ve got to be more aware when I’m out there.”

Standard predatory hit in the NHL. Bjork fortunate it was not more devastating.

  The Bruins are now 8-1-2 when Matt Beleskey is not in the lineup and 4-8-2 when he is on the job. He sat out Monday night and has dressed for only one of the last eight games.

  McAvoy led Boston’s TOI list again at 24:16. He’s a horse, but everyone is expecting the kid to feel the toll of NHL life around midseason (approx. Jan. 1), so it might be worth Cassidy squeezing a few more shifts out of his No. 3 D pairing.

  Spin-o-rama alert! Eager to get my first look at dazzling rookie forward Mathew Barzal when the Johnny Boychuk Islanders visit the Garden Saturday night.

NESN analyst Billy Jaffe recently tweeted that the dynamic Barzal reminds him of Denis Savard. Barzal is 6-18—24 through 26 games. The Islanders plucked him at No. 16 in the 2015 draft after the Bruins used picks 13, 14, and 15 on Jakub Zboril, DeBrusk, and Zach Senyshyn.

Long, long, long ago, one grizzled Hub hockey scribe suggested the Bruins consider flipping Ray Bourque for Savard. Roughly the mid ’80s. Luckily no one’s around to remember that one.

  Boychuk, 3-5—8 this season, is now in his fourth season with the Islanders. He will be 34 next month. The Bruins dealt him for two picks, which netted Brandon Carlo and Ryan Lindgren, a left-shot defenseman who is now halfway through his sophomore season at Minnesota.

  Nicknames for lines are rare these days, but how about the Yank Line for Tim Schaller (N.H.), Sean Kuraly (Ohio), and Noel “Rock Island” Acciari (R.I.)? The Bruins dressed 11 players with NCAA experience Monday night.

  The Dads went 1-1-0 on their road trip with their Black-and-Gold sons. They flew back to the Hub on the team charter late Monday night and started making their way home Tuesday morning, no doubt dying for a cup of 5 a.m. instant coffee dispensed from a vending machine next to a windy Zamboni entrance.

Kevin Paul Dupont can be reached at
Follow him on Twitter @GlobeKPD.