Bruins left stunned after letting 2-goal lead slip away in 1st loss of season


“It’s inexcusable. You can’t be up 3-1, five minutes left, and end up tied going into overtime.”

The tying goal by Anaheim Ducks' Troy Terry, not shown, gets past Boston Bruins' Linus Ullmark (35) during the third period of an NHL hockey game, Thursday, Oct. 26, 2023, in Boston.
The Bruins surrendered two goals over the final two minutes of play on Thursday. (AP Photo/Michael Dwyer)

The Bruins were two minutes away from history on Thursday night at TD Garden.

Another win over the Ducks would have secured Boston’s seventh-straight win to open the 2023-24 season, a feat never achieved in the Original Six franchise’s century-long existence.

And with Boston taking to the ice with a 3-1 lead and just two minutes left on the clock, another two points were well within reach.

But for the first time all season, a normally stingy Bruins squad let said win slip through their grasp — leading to disastrous results.

After relinquishing just seven total goals over their first six games, Boston coughed up two goals to a rebuilding Anaheim team in the span of 1:40 — setting the stage for a crushing collapse that was completed after Mason McTavish lit the lamp at 2:08 in overtime.

Boston was not going to run the table over an 82-game gauntlet, of course. But to lose in a manner like Thursday’s contest on Causeway Street marred what has otherwise been a strong start for Jim Montgomery’s club. 

“Lack of poise with the puck,” Montgomery said postgame after Boston’s 4-3 loss. “We had opportunities, I thought. I thought the game was over twice, we put it in an empty net. Guys whiffing on pucks, guys trying to go for the open net instead of using the walls as an indirect to clear and get off the ice. That was mostly it. … It’s inexcusable. You can’t be up 3-1, five minutes left, and end up tied going into overtime.”

The Bruins were in control for most of Thursday’s game, holding a two-goal advantage going into the second intermission and limiting Anaheim to just 17 shots on goal over the first 40 minutes of action.

But a holding call against Patrick Brown at 16:01 in the third set the stage for disaster. Boston’s stingy D-zone play has been able to snuff out scoring chances and negate opposing power-play opportunities all season long.

But that D-zone fortitude can only remain intact if Boston’s skaters are operating on fresh legs. And after Pavel Zacha and several other Bruins failed on several bids to clear the puck out of their own end, Anaheim’s offensive salvo was all but inevitable.

“Yeah, it’s tough,” Matt Grzelcyk said. “We got to find a way to close that out. A little bit of history on the line there and we knew that going into the game. It’s unfortunate. You just got to find a way to get a clear.”

The Bruins, who fall to 6-0-1 on the season following Thursday’s result, will return to TD Garden on Saturday for a matchup against the 5-2-1 Red Wings.

“Sometimes you have the luck with you and sometimes you don’t,” Linus Ullmark said of Thursday’s loss. “That’s just how it is. Hopefully get a bounce next game. We’ve got a pretty tight schedule up ahead, so be pissed about it right now and let it go for tomorrow.”