Talking Points from the Bruins 6-3 loss to the Lightning

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Here are Joe Haggerty's Talking Points from the Bruins' 6-3 loss to the Lightning in their regular season finale. 

GOLD STAR: Nikita Kucherov scored the game-winning goal on a backhanded strike in the third period, and finished with two points in the win for the Lightning. Not only that but those two points also pushed Kucherov to 128 points for the season, a total that eclipsed Alexander Mogilny for the most points in an NHL season by a Russian-born player. It wasn’t a dominant game by Kucherov by any means and he seemed to genuinely be getting annoyed by Connor Clifton giving him the business in the latter moments of the second period. But Kucherov decided he wanted to step up and win the game in the third, and he turned it on in the final 20 minutes as a reminder of just how good he’s going to be should the two teams meet up in the postseason.

BLACK EYE: They weren’t all the fault of Tuukka Rask, but he allowed five goals on 21 shots before he exited the game for an empty net situation in the third period. The game-winning backhanded shot from Nikita Kucherov was one that Rask would probably have liked to stop, but the real difficult one was the 40-plus footer from inside the blue line that Braydon Coburn beat him with to the glove hand. At that point it was pretty clear that it wasn’t going to be Rask’s night and it was just as clear afterward that Rask wasn’t super into playing in Game No. 82 with nothing on the line ahead of the Stanley Cup playoffs next week. Either way it’s not really a very big confidence-booster headed into the postseason for the No. 1 goalie.  

TURNING POINT: The Bruins looked good after the first period when they opened up a 2-0 lead and looked pretty solid out of the gate. But it all started falling apart in the second period when the Lightning outshot the Bruins by an 11-6 margin and scored three unanswered goals to really seize control of the game. Then they allowed a goal to Nikita Kucherov just 53 seconds into the third period and that really killed any chances of the Bruins mounting something of a comeback, or at least giving it a go with a lineup that was missing some of their best with Patrice Bergeron, Brad Marchand, Torey Krug and Brandon Carlo among others not playing. It all fell apart quickly for the Black and Gold, and that seems to happen quite a bit against Tampa.

HONORABLE MENTION: A pretty good game from Danton Heinen, who scored his 11th goal of the season and played like he wants to be a difference-maker in the postseason. The goal-scoring play was Heinen potting the score from the high slot to the corner with traffic in front of the net, but also credit to Steve Kampfer for stepping up into the play and disrupting Ryan Callahan at the blue line to keep the puck in the offensive zone as well. Heinen finished with the goal, three shots on net and three hits in 16:38 of ice time, and was a player that you noticed at certain spots as he’s fine-tuning his game for the B’s postseason run. That’s a good sign for him.

BY THE NUMBERS: 20 – the number of goals scored for David Krejci after his first period strike, which gives him the fourth 20-goal season of his career and marks the first time since 2013-14 that the Bruins had five 20-goal scorers on their roster.  

QUOTE TO NOTE: “It is an area of concern because Toronto’s going to have players that can bury it [shorthanded], so we’re going to have to tighten up in that area. But it’s not as simple as saying hey guys let’s [tighten up]...you just have to be harder on the pucks. Understand which teams push hard to score goals when you’re on the power play.” –Bruce Cassidy, on concerns about it after giving an NHL leading 15th shorthanded goal in the loss to Tampa Bay. 

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