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Riley Nash takes fall for overtime penalty: ‘It was pretty selfish of me, you can’t make that play’ 04.18.17 at 4:07 am ET
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Riley Nash took the blame for the penalty that led to Ottawa's game-winning goal. (Bob DeChiara/USA Today Sports)

Bruins forward Riley Nash took the blame for the penalty that led to Ottawa’s game-winning goal in Game 3. (Bob DeChiara/USA Today Sports)

Bruins forward Riley Nash would have had every right to step into his media availability and simply rip the piss-poor officiating that put him in the box for Bobby Ryan’s game-winning overtime goal on Monday.

Instead, the 27-year-old Nash took the fall for the B’s Game 3 loss.

“I think it was pretty selfish of me,” a visibly emotional Nash said following Monday’s game. “You can’t make that play, can’t put the refs in that position regardless of what happened before that, you’ve just got to do it, and it’s pretty tough for the boys.”

Knocked down to the ice and then blatantly elbowed in the head by Ryan, Nash got to his knees and responded with a quick jab to Ryan’s face, complete with a hard sell from the theatrical Ottawa winger.

“I felt like I was down on my knee, and he came and hit me, or elbow or fist, whatever it was. I tried to just push him or punch him off me and caught his face,” Nash continued. “He kind of embellished it, but I don’t know. Still, it just can’t happen.

“You’ve got to take that. It’s playoffs, you’ve got to take it.”

The penalty was universally slammed for being a garbage call (not that you expect anything less from Tim Peel, who is among the worst of the worst at his job), especially for an overtime frame that came with almost everything else let go, and Bruins interim head coach Bruce Cassidy called the penalty a “terrible call” on NESN’s postgame show.

“I think [Peel] looked over and just saw my reaction,” said Nash. “At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter. They see what they see, and there’s only two of them out there, and there’s 10 guys, so you just can’t really put them in that position to make that call.”

The Bruins, who finished the year with the league’s best penalty kill, have the second-worst penalty kill in the playoffs through the first three games of action, with three power-play goals against on 10 times shorthanded.

Bruins need Brad Marchand to battle through scoring frustrations 04.18.17 at 3:03 am ET
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Bruins winger Brad Marchand had just one shot in Game 3's loss. (Bob DeChiara/USA TODAY Sports)

Bruins winger Brad Marchand had just one shot in Game 3’s loss. (Bob DeChiara/USA TODAY Sports)

Bruins winger Brad Marchand’s emergence in the 2011 Stanley Cup Playoffs took just about everybody by surprise. But that was six years and 171 goals ago, and now, Marchand is a marked man.

Teams target him in more ways than one, too.

Not only do they try to keep the 5-foot-9 winger off the scoresheet, but they also attempt to get under his skin, and goad him into the bad penalties he’s wont to take at times. The Senators accomplished both in Monday’s Game 3, as they held No. 63 to just one shot on goal, and frustrated him into a needless penalty

The agitator became the agitated, and that’s something that’s just not going to work for the now-trailing Black and Gold.

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It’s not only reason Bruins lost, but that overtime penalty call was really awful 04.18.17 at 12:00 am ET
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Bobby Ryan scored the game-winning goal after getting away with an obvious elbow. (Greg M. Cooper/USA Today Sports)

Bobby Ryan scored the game-winning goal after getting away with an obvious elbow. (Greg M. Cooper/USA Today Sports)

No one play or call ever singlehandedly decides a game. We know that. In the case of the Bruins’ Game 3 loss to the Senators Monday night, you could point to the Bruins’ brutal first period, which saw them register just three shots on goal and fall behind 2-0. You could also point to injuries that continue to deplete their lineup, especially on defense, or a struggling penalty kill that surrendered two power-play goals.

But let’s not pretend that penalty call against Riley Nash in overtime, which sent the Senators to a power play on which they’d win the game, was anything other than horrendous.

Yes, Nash threw a quick job to Bobby Ryan’s face in retaliation. But somehow the officials missed Ryan’s blatant elbow to Nash’s head a split second before that. At worst, it should’ve been matching penalties, something the refs had already called twice earlier in the game. In fact, one of those previous matchings also included a punch — Marc Methot threw a jab at Tim Schaller during a confrontation, but both players were still sent to the box.

Refs sometimes call only the retaliation in an effort to send the message that they’re not going to put up with it and players aren’t going to get bailed out by matching calls. But on Monday, Tim Peel and Eric Furlatt had already set the tone and made it clear they were perfectly fine making matching calls. Overtime was certainly not the time to go in a different direction.

So, the only other possibility is that they really did somehow miss Ryan’s elbow, which would be pretty astounding considering that’s where the puck was.

Generally no one other than fans really wants to blame the refs. Coaches and players can get fined for doing it, so they generally take the high road. Unsurprisingly, Nash did just that after the game, putting the blame on himself instead of the officials.

“I think it was pretty selfish of me,” Nash said. “You can’t make that play, can’t put the refs in that position regardless of what happened before that. … It’s pretty tough for the boys.”

Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy showed his true feelings a little more, agreeing with reporters’ assessments of the call in his press conference and calling it a “terrible call” in his postgame interview with NESN.

“Demoralizing and disappointing. I think you guys summed it up,” Cassidy said in his press conference. “There’s probably a lot more words, but they called it. So once they call it, it’s our job to kill it.”

Media members also tend to avoid being too critical of officiating because they sometimes worry about looking like whiny homers. But there’s really no getting around this one — it was an awful call and it directly contributed to the game-winning goal, which was of course scored by Ryan, that put the Bruins in a 2-1 hole in the series.

Bobby Ryan and Senators steal overtime, 2-1 series lead over Bruins 04.17.17 at 10:13 pm ET
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The Bruins overcame a three-goal deficit in the second period. (Greg M. Cooper/USA Today Sports)

The Bruins overcame a three-goal deficit in the second period, but lost in overtime to fall behind in their series 2-1. (Greg M. Cooper/USA Today Sports)

At its best, playoff hockey is every emotion one can experience bottled up into 60 minutes — sometimes, dare I even say often, more — of chaos. Its chaos has been gone from Boston for far too long, and it’s as if the Bruins and Senators realized that in a Game 3 showdown that saw a rabid TD Garden crowd experience the highest of highs and lowest of lows in a 4-3 overtime final for the Senators.

In a Marathon Monday that started with the Bruins honoring Dic Donohue four years after his role in defining Boston Strong, the energy and anticipation reverberated through the building as a sellout crowd sang along with Rene Rancourt, and everybody seemed ready to go.

Except the Bruins, of course, who fell on their face out of the gate on home ice, like they did too many times to even count during their two-year absence from postseason play.

With the Bruins in hot pursuit of the game’s first goal, Senators defenseman Erik Karlsson channeled his inner quarterback from behind his own net, and completed a one-on-five Hail Mary pass to Mike Hoffman, who blazed in on Tuukka Rask for one of the prettiest breakaway goals you’ll see all year. It got worse for the Bruins just 25 seconds later, too, as an own-zone turnover from John-Michael Liles kept the B’s hemmed in their own zone, while Ottawa’s forwards danced around the front of Rask’s net before Derick Brassard buried their second goal.

 

The listless first period was not complete for the Bruins with a power play stumble, which of course came late in the first period, as the Bruins failed to put a single shot on goal during their gift of a power play, and skated to an 0-2 deficit through one period of play, and with just three shots on Senators goaltender Craig Anderson in the process.

Ottawa extended their edge to 3-0 on their 17th shot of the game, as Hoffman ripped a slapshot through Rask at 3:42 of the second period, and you could not help but feel as if this game was all but lost for the no-showing Bruins.

A three-year wait, for this? Yuck. Can we all just get a redo and come back tomorrow?

But the Garden crowd was brought to their feet with the deflection of Noel Acciari, one of the B’s most sorely missed during the first two games of this series, as he redirected a Liles shot through Anderson to cut Ottawa’s lead to two. 42 seconds later, it was No. 42, David Backes, that took advantage of a whiffed attempt by Bobby Ryan to break in alone and score the B’s second goal.

Rask followed those goals up with a huge save on Mark Stone, which kept this a one-goal game, and showed that he was not broken by the second Hoffman goal, as Stone’s shot was the first puck fired on him since the second Hoffman tally.

OK, maybe pause that redo thing. We had a game cookin’ up at the Garden.

And following a straight-up stupid penalty from Dion Phaneuf, who failed to move Backes out of the crease with his body, instead resorting to cheap tactics with a brutal slash to the hands, it was David Pastrnak that made him pay with a one-time rocket.

In a matter of 7:46 and six shots, the Bruins erased a three-goal hole, and were back even through 40 minutes of action.

And in a game that got better as it went on, the third period did not disappoint.

The Bruins created numerous chances on Anderson, and with the Boston crowd singing his name on each B’s possession in the Ottawa end, and none were better than two looks from David Krejci, playing in his first game of the series.

Down four of their regular seven defensemen, the Bruins by all means moved to a three-man rotation in the third period, too, with Zdeno Chara and Charlie McAvoy logging big minutes, while Kevan Miller stepped up as the third man on the point. Their efforts were not for naught in the final frame, too, as the Bruins held the Sens to just four shots through 17 minutes.

And after they survived six defensive zone faceoffs in the final minute and a half of hockey, it was off to overtime.

It was there where you found your heart your throat as Acciari came up with a big block on Cody Ceci just a minute into the overtime. It was there that your anger boiled when Dominic Moore was hauled down without a penalty called. That turned to a rage when Riley Nash was whistled for roughing Ryan after Ryan elbowed him on the head on his way down.

And it was on that power play that Ryan scored, and sunk the Bruins just 5:33 into the overtime.

This game simply had it all. The energy with each hit that shook the glass and echoed throughout the boards, the anger of some straight-up dreadful officiating, and the reminder that this atmosphere is unlike anything else in sports.

And to see it end the way it end is just a shame.

But the good news? The Bruins and Senators get to do this all over again for Wednesday night’s Game 4.

Noel Acciari cleared to return to Bruins lineup, expected to play in Game 3 04.17.17 at 6:30 pm ET
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Noel Acciari is expected to play tonight against the Sens. (Bob DeChiara/USA TODAY Sports)

Noel Acciari is expected to play tonight against the Sens. (Bob DeChiara/USA TODAY Sports)

The Bruins have had to make do through the first two games of their round one series with the Senators without a good chunk of their NHL regulars. About six of them, to be exact. They’ve probably done about as well as you’d expect, too, as they arrive back in Boston for tonight’s pivotal Game 3 at TD Garden with the series tied at 1-1.

The Bruins are expected to get at least one of those six back in action tonight though in bottom-six energy winger Noel Acciari, who suffered an upper-body injury in the year’s 81st game, and has missed the last three games.

“Noel’s cleared,” Bruins interim head coach Bruce Cassidy said after the morning skate at TD Garden. “If he goes in, he’s gonna start with Dom and Nash. We liked that line before he got injured.”

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Sorting out the ‘puzzle’ the Bruins have on defense 04.17.17 at 1:46 pm ET
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The Bruins will be without at least three of their regular defensemen tonight. (Greg M. Cooper/USA Today Sports)

The Bruins will remain without at least three of their regular defensemen tonight. (Greg M. Cooper/USA Today Sports)

David Krejci may give it a go for tonight’s Game 3 at TD Garden, but the Bruins remain a battered bunch, especially on their backend.

In a straight-up ridiculous week-plus of hockey that’s seen the Bruins lose four defenders in four straight games, with Adam McQuaid being the latest to go down, the club’s point is a confusing mess, even with two more bodies recalled from Providence for today’s morning skate.

With Tommy Cross and Matt Grzelcyk in town — and Brandon Carlo, Torey Krug, and McQuaid still missing from the ice — the Bruins rolled out some of the strangest defensive pairings you’ll see in April.

“Our blue line looks a bit like a puzzle that we’re piecing together,” Bruins interim head coach Bruce Cassidy said after the morning skate.

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Bruins center David Krejci will be a gametime decision for Game 3 04.17.17 at 12:11 pm ET
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David Krejci will be a gametime decision tonight. (Bob DeChiara/USA Today Sports)

Bruins center David Krejci took part in the morning skate and will be a gametime decision tonight. (Bob DeChiara/USA Today Sports)

After three long years away, the Stanley Cup Playoffs are back in Boston. And one of the staples of meaningful springtime hockey in town, Bruins center David Krejci, may join in on the fun as well.

Out of action for the first two games of this series, which comes to TD Garden tied at 1-1, Krejci was a full participant in today’s morning skate and will also take part in the game’s pregame warmup with the hopes that he’s ready to return from his upper-body injury.

“We’ll see how it goes tonight,” Krejci, who took part in Game 1’s pregame skate but was deemed unavailable shortly before puck drop, said when asked if he’s ready to play. “I felt better yesterday, today I felt better than yesterday, so we’ll see how it goes.”

“Krejci will be a gametime decision, he’ll go for warmups,” Bruins interim head coach Bruce Cassidy confirmed. “He obviously skated this morning, [he’s] feeling better.”

The 30-year-old Krejci took the first line rushes between a line with Drew Stafford on the left and David Backes on the right, and after playing in all 82 games during the regular season, Krejci has an itch to get back into action.

“It was really disappointing. Playing all 82 games and then you have to miss the first two games of the playoffs, it was definitely disappointing, frustrating, but what can you do?” Krejci, who scored 23 goals and 54 points (both ranked as the third-most among B’s skaters) this season, said. “You gotta work hard to get back at it, I’ve been doing that, and see how it goes tonight.”

Krejci, who has twice led the postseason in scoring in his NHL career, has 29 goals and 77 points in 93 career postseason tilts.

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