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The one that got away

Raycroft plays well but recalls soft goal

Bruins goaltender Andrew Raycroft admitted after last night's 1-1 tie with Tampa Bay that it's the pucks that get by him he remembers the most.


And as the Bruins head into the short holiday break, you can be sure Raycroft will replay the lone goal he surrendered against the Lightning.

Just 16 seconds into the third period and the Bruins clinging to 1-0 lead, Lightning forward Andre Roy fired a hard shot from a difficult angle along the goal line. The 10-footer had some steam on it, and even though Raycroft appeared to have his near post protected, the puck hit his leg and slipped into the goal.

"I didn't really read it well enough and somehow it found a hole and hit my leg or whatever," said Raycroft, who in his sixth straight start made 31 saves.

Raycroft shook off any effects of the unusual goal and played well down the stretch.

Even though the Bruins weren't able to record a victory for a fifth straight game, Raycroft showed signs of continued improvement. He made several key stops in the third period and overtime.

"He has been really solid back there," said Bruins coach Mike Sullivan. "What impresses me the most is the way he rebounds after he gives up a goal that he thought he should have not let in. He stays positive."

Raycroft may appear to stay positive after giving up a softie, but inside, he said, he's furious.

"Most of the time I get mad at myself because you don't want to let your teammates down again," Raycroft said. "I let them down there and I didn't want to let it happen again so I focused more."

Since Felix Potvin was lit up for three quick goals against Washington Dec. 11, Raycroft has started every game. While he hasn't picked up a victory since a 3-2 win at Ottawa 11 days ago, Raycroft seems to be getting comfortable between the pipes.

Raycroft has had little help from his offense lately. The Bruins have scored just five goals in the last five games. The lack of production has created a heavy burden on the rookie. So far he's handled it with the grace of a veteran.

"I made it tough on myself tonight giving up that goal. I can't do that," he said. "But other than that it's been all right. It's a low-scoring league and I understand that. There's not much room for error, especially now for our team."

Things became more difficult for Raycroft and his defensemen when Ian Moran suffered a high ankle injury midway through the first period and didn't return, forcing the Bruins to play with just five defensemen.

"You got to give all five of them a lot of credit, they did an outstanding job, especially [since we played Monday] night on the road," Raycroft said. "I'm sure a lot of their legs were heavy. We did a good job of keeping everything outside and really covering the middle."

Raycroft has been impressed lately by the play of his teammates in front of him. Although the wins have been scarce, he is remaining positive.

"Our work ethic and our defensive zone coverage has improved tenfold in the last two or three games since we were kind of beat up last week [against Calgary]," he said. "I think we are paying a lot more attention to detail and if we continue to do that the pucks are going to start going in sooner or later. I know we say that every day, but it has to happen eventually."

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