The theory goes that if you have five skaters on the ice to an opponent's three, feature a playmaker like Marc Savard on the power play, are gunning at a rookie goalie, and boast a boomer of a slap shot like Zdeno Chara at the point, you should get at least one goal.
If not two.
Instead, the Bruins, who had a five-on-three power play for 1 minute 58 seconds in the third period against the Canadiens, put only two shots on 20-year-old goalie Carey Price during the two-man advantage.
Or one more than the Canadiens sent on Tim Thomas during the same penalties.
Price (28 saves) kicked out both shots - a Savard slapper with little traffic and a Chara one-timer from a bad angle - to keep the Bruins off the scoreboard and help Montreal score a 2-1 victory before 15,183 at TD Banknorth Garden last night. The Bruins are winless in their last four games and have scored a total of five goals in the losses, all against Northeast Division rivals.
"We've got to start looking for solutions instead of excuses," said coach Claude Julien. "We're the only ones that can get ourselves out of it. The sooner we do that, the better it will be for our hockey club."
Down, 2-1, in the third period, the Bruins went on their fourth power play when defenseman Mike Komisarek was nabbed for high-sticking. Two seconds later, after the Canadiens won a faceoff in their zone, defenseman Francis Bouillon lofted the puck into the stands for a delay of game penalty.
So for nearly two minutes, the Bruins sent out Chara, Savard, Dennis Wideman, Marco Sturm, and Glen Murray in hopes of tying the score.
But all they managed to do was watch penalty-killing pluggers Mathieu Dandenault and Steve Begin spring loose for a two-on-one break, the best scoring opportunity during the stretch. With Wideman the lone Bruin back, Dandenault winged a shot that Tim Thomas (30 saves), who made his seventh straight start, saved with his left pad.
"When you get a five-on-three for that long, you have to score," said Wideman, the left point man on the No. 1 unit. "Or at least get better chances than we did."
From his perch behind the bench, Julien spotted the sin of any power-play unit: players standing around. Instead of rotating and forcing the Montreal defense to adjust and open seams, the Bruins remained stationary, sending limp passes when they should have been crisp. The Bruins couldn't open up Chara for one-timers or create traffic in front of the net to cut down Price's vision and put themselves in position for rebounds.
"We didn't seem to move the puck as well as we had in the past," said Julien. "When those guys have confidence, they can move the puck well and make the right decisions. Right now, even our best playmakers aren't making those easy plays."
At 15:09, Komisarek flew out of the box. Two seconds later, after the Bruins had changed point men, Bouillon charged out and appeared to throw an elbow at the head of an unsuspecting Aaron Ward.
The Boston defenseman fell to the ice and was prone for several moments. Several Bruins waved for a stretcher, but after approximately five minutes, Ward got to his skates and was helped off the ice by Wideman and Andrew Alberts. Ward did not return. After the game, the Bruins were looking for a replay of Bouillon's hit.
"It appeared like an elbow to the head on that play," said Julien, who didn't have an update on Ward, who was treated at the Garden.
For the first half of the game, the Bruins didn't have an answer for Montreal's No. 2 line of Andrei Kostitsyn, Tomas Plekanec, and Alexei Kovalev, which clicked for both goals. In the first period, Plekanec beat Thomas with a close-range wrist shot that dribbled through his pads. The puck rolled toward the line and was batted home by Kovalev at 17:05.
In the second period, the Montreal forwards attacked the Boston defenders with speed once again. This time it was Kostitsyn dishing a quick pass to Plekanec, who deked Thomas with a backhand and tucked a forehand shot past his right pad at 8:47. The goal came 11 seconds after the Bruins had killed off an offensive-zone holding penalty on Savard.
The Bruins cut Montreal's lead at 14:12 of the second period when Sturm, grinding away in the front-of-the-net danger area alongside Chuck Kobasew, backhanded the rebound of a Phil Kessel shot past Price.
"Guys are going in there," Julien said of the rink's tough zones. "But we might need to stay there and grab a position you want to hold in that area in order to jump on those loose pucks. Going in there and leaving is not what we're looking for. You've got to pay a price to score goals."