There is no denying that the Bruins have greatly struggled to find production on offense at even strength this season and that was quite evident in a poor showing against the Pittsburgh Penguins on Thursday night at TD Garden.
Boston simply could not get any sort of momentum throughout the game after only managing to tally two shots on goal in the opening period. After a scoreless first period, Zach Aston-Reese opened the scoring for the Penguins and Mike Matheson would double the lead for the visitors later on in the second period.
Brad Marchand would finally put Boston on the board with a goal midway through the third period. However, the Bruins comeback bid would quickly be put to rest as the Penguins responded with a goal from Jason Zucker to reclaim a two goal lead. An empty netter late in the third would clinch the victory for the Penguins.
Third string goaltender Daniel Vladar started in goal for the Bruins. Vladar had a solid game but it was not enough due to the poor performance from the rest of the team. From the opening face off, Pittsburgh tested Vladar and the Bruins net minder was up to the task making some impressive saves. Casey DeSmith was the starter between the pipes at the other of the ice and had an exceptional performance himself. The former UNH goaltender had 30 saves on 31 shots.
The loss was made even worse for Boston as defenseman Brandon Carlo was forced to leave the game after the opening period with an upper-body injury. Carlo had recently returned after recovering from a concussion he suffered on March 5 against the Washington Capitals. It is unknown as to whether or not the injury suffered on Thursday night is related to the concussion he suffered about a month ago.
In a stacked East division, the Bruins are starting to slip behind the three teams ahead of them in the standings. After the loss on Thursday night, the Bruins are now 18-10-5 with 41 points. The Penguins, on a five game winning streak, have improved to 24-11-2 with 50 points. Pittsburgh are tied on points with the Washington Capitals and New York Islanders atop the division. The Bruins on the other hand currently sit in 4th place, only three points clear of the Philadelphia Flyers.
Although the Bruins do have at least a couple games in hand on the teams ahead of them and right behind them in the East Division, they will need some type of wake up call sooner rather than later with only about six weeks remaining in the regular season.
If not, Boston could be in real danger of missing out on the playoffs for the first time since 2016. The Bruins will seek revenge against the Penguins in a rematch on Saturday afternoon at 1 pm.