David Krejci sat out his second game of the season Thursday night, the veteran Bruins center still smarting after taking a slash across the arm from Anaheim’s Ryan Getzlaf Monday afternoon at the Garden.
Krejci, 33, yielded his No. 2 center spot to Charlie Coyle, and summer free agent pickup Par Lindholm moved back into the lineup to pivot the third line.
David Backes (pointless in three games), who did not play in either of the two previous home games, sat out again.
“[Krejci] didn’t respond to treatment as well as we’d like,” Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy said before puck drop. “We’ll see how he is tomorrow and make a determination for Saturday — first if he can skate, and travel.”
The Bruins will be in Toronto Saturday night, facing the Maple Leafs for the first time since dismissing them for a second year in a row in Game 7 of the opening playoff round. They host the Leafs on Tuesday.
Krejci has produced but a lone assist in five games, including Monday’s matchup with Anaheim, which he exited early in the second period. He also missed the season opener in Dallas after sustaining a lower-body injury in his one preseason appearance.
Even with Krejci in the lineup, the Bruins have found it difficult to generate meaningful offense beyond their Primo Trio of Brad Marchand-Patrice Bergeron-David Pastrnak.
After Pastrnak delivered a career-high four goals in the 4-2 win over the Ducks, he struck twice on Thursday. His three-point night, and two points each from Bergeron and Marchand, increased that line’s total take this season to 14-17—31 in eight games.
That means the three have accounted for 14 of 19 Bruins goals this season, a stat that concerned Torey Krug, among others.
“As time moves on, guys start doubting themselves a little bit more and more,” Krug said. “We’ve got to find a way to break through. Once we do, I think the floodgates will open. It’s about finding our confidence and touch, and when you think you’re working hard, maybe you’ve got to work a little bit harder.”
Coyle (0-1—1) lined up between Jake DeBrusk (0-1—1) and Brett Ritchie (1-0—1), and Lindholm (0-0—0) centered Danton Heinen (1-0—1) and Karson Kuhlman (0-0—0).
Ex-Quinnipiac defenseman Connor Clifton, a scratch Monday, was placed back on the job, moving into his No. 3 pairing with Matt Grzelcyk. He skated 13:51, lowest among Bruins defensemen.
The move to pull Clifton Monday, Cassidy said at the time, was in part to send a message to the young defenseman, whom he felt might be taking his roster spot for granted.
“When you don’t play, the message isn’t great, right?” said Cassidy. “I felt Cliffy had good moments and average moments. I told him he needs to continue to grow, and I think his practice habits weren’t good enough either, to be honest.
“Some days he was behind, so a little bit of, ‘Are you taking this for granted? If you are, you shouldn’t be.’ And some of it was rewarding Steve [Kampfer] for practicing well and playing well when he’s gone into games. We wanted to keep him sharp.”
Clifton, 24, said it was “good to watch a game” from his spot in the press box.
“The game is really easy from up top, obviously,” he said. “When everyone is going 100 miles an hour on the ice, it’s a little harder.”
It’s early in the season, noted Clifton, and he acknowledged needing “to clean things up.”
“But I expect to be ready to go tonight,” he added. “Can’t take it for granted. You’ve got to bring your best every night. If I haven’t done that, I am going to start tonight.”
Aside from Chris Wagner (eight hits), no Bruin landed more than two smacks. Tampa, with six players doling out three or more, was credited with 31 hits to Boston’s 21. Krug said it was as physical a game as the Bruins have played.
“It wasn’t even actual, you know, hits,” the defenseman said. “It’s more just, they were in your face every time we had the puck. They were fast tonight. They didn’t give us much of a chance to make clean plays, and we didn’t execute them.”
The Bruins’ power-play time (5:57) meant big minutes for Krug (25:50), Marchand (23:36), Pastrnak (21:34) and Bergeron (21:25). None of them approached the heavy lifting done by Victor Hedman (27:10), Tampa’s all-situations stud defenseman . . . The Bruins’ power-play percentage (38.1) ranks behind only Edmonton (45.5) . . . Point wasn’t mad about Marchand’s headlock at the end of overtime. “Really, it’s a great play,” he said. “There’s not much time. He breaks up a potential chance for us and he still gets to shoot in the shootout. There’s no real consequence for that. So really it’s a good play.”