TORONTO -- If you had told the Bruins prior to last night's game that they would outshoot the Maple Leafs, 53-32, and be given 10 power plays to just four for the opposition, you'd think they'd feel pretty confident of coming out with a victory.
However, the Bruins came up empty on the man advantage -- giving up one shorthanded goal instead -- and lost in their first shootout of the season, 5-4, at the
Bruins captain Joe Thornton, who had two assists, said the difference was Toronto goalie Ed Belfour, who made 49 saves as well as stopping all three Boston shootout attempts by Thornton, Glen Murray, and Patrice Bergeron.
''He kind of stole the show in the third," said Thornton, whose team had five power plays in that period. ''Eddie just really stoned us in the third period. We had a couple of great chances on the power play and he denied the shots, and the second period, he kind of let a couple of floaters in and really got his confidence in the third and that was the difference."
In the shootout, Eric Lindros beat Boston goalie Andrew Raycroft on a crafty backhander after Murray's failed bid. Thornton's try hit the right post, and after former Bruins captain Jason Allison missed on a backhander for the Leafs, Belfour turned back Bergeron.
In the end, it was the power play -- so effective against the Penguins Saturday -- that left them short.
''I don't know if we didn't have it set up or we didn't have it in the right place," said Murray. ''We just didn't execute, plain and simple. Their [defense] was stepping in front of our shots and they made a bunch of blocks.
''Give them credit, too. As well as they played on the [penalty killing], we didn't have our best power play, but they outplayed us on special teams."
The Bruins got off to a weak start, giving up a pair of goals in the first period. The first came as the result of a give-and-go between Lindros and winger Tie Domi. Domi, in the left circle, threw the puck across the slot to Lindros, who fired it right back on the stick of Domi and he directed it past Raycroft at 12:20.
The second goal came on the man advantage at 13:06, set up well by Allison. With Dave Scatchard off for hooking, center Jeff O'Neill had the puck at the left point. He dished it down to Allison, below the left circle, and Alllison found defenseman Bryan McCabe cutting to the net and fed him in the slot for the 2-0 lead.
Boston rallied to tie the contest on goals just 35 seconds apart in the middle period and added a third to take the lead. Winger Pat Leahy, who has been a consistent contributor this year, potted his third of the season at 3:05. Defenseman Ian Moran pulled things even at 3:40. And at 11:04, Boston went ahead, 3-2, when Thornton's pass from the right point went to Murray in the left circle, and Murray's low shot hit off Belfour's glove and trickled into the net.
Toronto got its second power-play goal at 16:12. Thornton was outdueled in the right circle by center Kyle Wellwood and the puck went up to defenseman Alexander Khavanov. His slapper from the right point blew past Raycroft and it was 3-3.
Center Brad Boyes gave Boston the lead again at 3:05 of the third period, taking advantage of a nightmarish miscue by Belfour. After Lindros dumped the puck into the left corner, Belfour went out to play it. Instead, he lost control and Boyes jumped on it. His first shot hit the left post but he got the rebound and buried it.
However, the Leafs pulled even on a shorthanded goal at 15:23 to make it 4-4. Matt Stajan's shot went up over the top of Raycroft and Alexei Ponikarovsky tapped it in to finish off a two-on-one.
Boston had a five-on-three late in the contest but failed to score. It also had a power play that extended into OT but came up empty again, triggering the shootout.
The Bruins are trying to stay positive with regard to their schedule against the division, but they don't want to look back in March or April at these games and see that they're the difference between making the playoffs and not.
''These are points that we can't give away," said Murray. ''We have to get these points. They're crucial in our division and our conference. We haven't played great hockey, but we've played all right here and there. We have to work on our special teams, that's it."