Bruins give, then take it on chin
Turnovers prove costly in dropped decision to Carolina
If there was one thing the Bruins could be credited with in yesterday's 5-1 loss to the Carolina Hurricanes, it was consistency.
Consistency in turning over the puck, that is.
Officially, they recorded only five giveaways. But especially in a stinker of a second period that saw the Hurricanes score two goals in nine seconds, forcing coach Dave Lewis to pull Tim Thomas from the shelling, the Bruins played the puck as if it were toxic, constantly coughing it up and handing Carolina opportunities.
"I thought he was our best player," Lewis said of Thomas. "He was outstanding. I didn't want to subject him to any more of their attack. We had 19 players who were really off their game. He was the one guy who had his game."
By the third period, when relief netminder Philippe Sauve saw two pucks get behind him, many of the 16,544 fans at TD Banknorth Garden had departed. By game's end, the Black-and-Gold faithful who had toughed out the assault gave the Bruins, on their way to Logan Airport for an afternoon flight to Toronto, a send-off of well-earned boos.
"Bad turnovers," said Marc Savard, who gave away the puck in the second period when Andrew Alberts and Zdeno Chara were heading off the ice, resulting in a two-on-zero rush for the Hurricanes that Thomas turned aside. "It got pretty ugly at times. There's nowhere here to go but up."
The Hurricanes (40 shots), who took a 1-0 lead in the first period after a shot by Eric Staal deflected off the skate of Mark Stuart, toyed with the Bruins in the second period. On their fourth power play, with Staal serving a tripping penalty, the Bruins failed to generate clean entries into the Carolina zone, preventing them from setting up their man-advantage formation.
The best scoring opportunity came at the other end after forward Chad LaRose intercepted a Thomas clear and sailed a shot on goal that the goalie had to dive to stop.
Several minutes later, forward Justin Williams made it 2-0 after an extended shift by Carolina's No. 1 line. With Mark Mowers and Milan Jurcina missing their sticks, the Hurricanes whipped it around the stationary Boston defense for a stretch that seemed to last until next Tuesday, with Williams finally jamming in a close-range shot past Thomas (22 saves).
Earlier in the shift, the Bruins got the puck out to their blue line, only to see the Hurricanes storm back into the offensive zone to complete the goal-scoring swarm.
"At least ice the puck and you have tired players with five sticks. That would be the best thing to do," said Lewis. "I also think that if you're the forward, you might as well come to the bench and get a stick. You then play a five-on-four penalty kill, but at least you're back and you have a stick. Then you could give it to the defenseman or whatever. At that time there was fatigue and chaos because of the lost sticks."
After Williams's goal, Carolina won the faceoff and forward Erik Cole charged toward the net, pushing the puck past Thomas at 10:44 despite getting upended by the Boston defense.
At that point, Lewis had seen enough. With his teammates dogging it at every turn in the second period -- the only Boston highlight a Patrice Bergeron power-play goal at 15:53 -- Thomas needed a respite to give his mind and slightly injured groin less exposure to damage.
"The best luck goes to the person who works the hardest," said Thomas, who is expected to start tonight against the Maple Leafs. "I don't think we brought our A-game today."
Lewis could have gone down his roster and singled out virtually every player for F-game performances. There was Savard (minus-2), who had Thomas to thank for stopping the Scott Walker-to-Williams rush after his second-period turnover. There was Chara (also a minus-2), who didn't record a shot and had two giveaways. There was Brad Boyes, who was taken off the second line in the third period and replaced by Petr Tenkrat, although Lewis didn't consider it a demotion.
"When you play a team that won the Stanley Cup last year, you can't give them opportunities," Lewis said. "You can't turn the puck over. We turned the puck over way too much in the neutral zone, our zone, and the attacking zone. They're an aggressive, attacking team. That's their style. That's exactly what they wanted us to do. We turned the puck over and they capitalized."
Fluto Shinzawa can be reached at FShinzawa@globe.com.