The Boston Bruins appeared poised to continue their winning ways on Monday before seeing a three-goal lead vanish.
The Bruins will bid to rebound from a demoralizing, 6-5 shootout loss to the Philadelphia Flyers when they conclude their three-game road trip against the Columbus Blue Jackets on Tuesday.
David Krejci scored his second goal of the contest to give Boston a 5-2 advantage at 7:21 of the second period on Monday before the Flyers responded with three unanswered tallies in regulation. The Bruins then fell to 0-7 in shootouts following a bizarre finish, as Brad Marchand overskated the puck at center ice in the fifth round to end the game.
Boston coach Bruce Cassidy pulled no punches during an interview with NESN after the game.
"We really had no will to keep the puck out of the net for the last three goals, and that's been a staple of our team for years," Cassidy said. "So, let's hope it's a one-off, because it was unprofessional the way we performed in front of our net. ... We just need to be better."
The Bruins have dropped four of their past seven outings (3-1-3), with a 2-1 overtime setback to Columbus on Jan. 2 included in the mix.
Blue Jackets rookie Elvis Merzlikins made 25 saves in that contest and turned aside all 27 shots he faced to record his first career shutout on Saturday in Columbus' 3-0 victory over the Vegas Golden Knights.
The scintillating performance in Sin City was not lost on the 25-year-old before he left the building.
"When I power-napped, I (dreamed it) would be fun to make first shutout of career, here in Vegas," said Merzlikins, a 25-year-old Latvian who is indeed named after the iconic singer. "It was just a dream. It feels good. But still now, I have to enjoy it then just move on."
Merzlikins has started each of the last seven games, producing a 5-2-0 record with a 1.88 goals-against average and a .943 save percentage.
"Goaltenders can have talent, they can be athletic and all that, but I think he has a mindset of he is strong there mentally," Columbus coach John Tortorella said. "He's a piece of work as far as his personality, which I really like, but I think he's strong that way."
Blue Jackets forward Pierre-Luc Dubois recorded his 15th goal on Saturday to pull even with defenseman Zach Werenski for the team lead.
The 21-year-old Dubois, who scored 52 seconds in overtime against Boston, has 16 points (five goals, 11 assists) over his past 15 games.
Fellow forward Sonny Milano has returned with a flourish from injury, collecting five points (two goals, three assists) in six games.
Boston's David Pastrnak scored in the previous encounter with the Blue Jackets and added his NHL-best 36th goal at 33 seconds of the second period on Monday.
Tuukka Rask likely will get the nod in goal for the Bruins on Tuesday after Jaroslav Halak made 34 saves versus the Flyers. Rask fell to 9-4-3 in 17 career appearances versus the Blue Jackets despite turning aside 31 of 33 shots on Jan. 2.
--Field Level Media