Third-period letdowns becoming ‘concerning’ trend during final stretch for Bruins

Photo by Dave Reginek/NHLI via Getty Images

David Backes had seen this scenario play out before earlier this season. If we want to be a bit more blunt, it was less than a week ago.

Just six days prior to Boston’s disheartening 6-3 loss at the hands of the Red Wings, the Bruins were dealt a hard-luck loss to the top-seeded Lightning on the road — a 5-4 result made all the more frustrating given the fact that the B’s held a two-goal cushion going into the final period of play.

The cellar-dwelling Red Wings are a far cry from the juggernaut that is Tampa Bay, but Detroit didn’t need the likes of Kucherov, Stamkos or Point to dismantle what was a porous defensive effort from the Bruins in the third stanza of Sunday’s matchup.

Once again, Boston entered the final frame with a lead — as a three-goal second both erased a sluggish start and put the B’s back on track toward their efforts of securing home ice in the opening round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

Twenty minutes later, a Red Wings club with a minus-42 goal differential on the season had managed to find twine on just about every Grade-A chance relinquished by Boston, scoring four unanswered goals en route to Boston’s second straight loss to a team outside of the playoff picture.

Even though the Bruins have already secured a playoff berth, they haven’t done much to assuage any pre-postseason jitters felt by their fans and others. 

There are few positives to take away from a weekend of losses: Both Jaroslav Halak and Tuukka Rask stopped just 41 of the 49 shots that came their way. Marcus Johansson has still yet to gel with a forward trio with the playoffs right around the corner. And a defense that still sits third in the league in goals allowed per game (2.58) has now allowed 18 tallies in its last four games — with the six-spot delivered by Detroit coming on just the 12th night in which the Bruins have been able to roll out its six regular starters on the blue line.

And yet, for Backes, the most concerning trend during this late-season slump might be the club’s recent lack of execution during the final stretches of regulation.