Bruins score a goal, then lose shootout
In some ways, it was a banner game. Last night, before 17,565 at TD Garden, the Bruins scored a goal. They only allowed one goal in 65 minutes of play. They recorded 1 point.
Around here, those qualify as bold-faced achievements.
The Bruins were staring down a 1-0 loss to the Canadiens. It would have been their third straight shutout loss, a dubious occurrence that has taken place in club history only once (1929). With 51.7 seconds remaining in regulation, Patrice Bergeron snapped a 192:06 scoreless string by beating Carey Price and tying the game.
But the bottom line is that the Bruins lost in the shootout, 2-1. Mike Cammalleri, Montreal’s first gunner, fired a fast-moving snap shot past Tim Thomas. At the other end, Blake Wheeler, Bergeron, and Mark Recchi were foiled by Price.
“We look around and we see a lot of guys who can score goals,’’ Wheeler said. “All of a sudden, we’re going on nine periods with no goals.
“We’ve got to take that to heart. We’ve got to take that personally and look in the mirror. There are only so many times you can get stopped by a goalie before you can just put the puck in the net.
“There’s no two ways about it. I think it was great getting that goal there and pushing it to overtime and getting a point out of the game. It’s a great step in the right direction.’’
Last night, they dumped 43 pucks on Price, including 17 in the second period. They limited the Canadiens to 26 shots, with Thomas having to make only a handful of Grade-A stops.
But again, two ailments came back to bite the Bruins: their ab sent power play and their lack of finish around the net.
Three times, the Bruins went on the power play. Three times, they were turned aside. They haven’t scored a power-play goal in six games. And when your offense can’t hold down any kind of rhythm during even-strength action, having the league’s worst power play isn’t going to help you win hockey games.
“It’s confidence,’’ said coach Claude Julien. “The power play doesn’t have any more confidence than the five-on-five scoring goals right now. They’re squeezing the sticks. We’re trying to make them relax.’’
The only time the Bruins were able to solve Price came with Thomas pulled and an extra attacker on the ice in the final minute. Bergeron won an offensive-zone against Tomas Plekanec, Recchi gained control of the puck, and sent a pass out to point man Derek Morris. As Morris reached back to fire, Zdeno Chara went to the front of the crease to set a screen on Price. Bergeron drifted off to the edge of the left circle.
Somehow, all the disjointed elements that hadn’t been clicking finally came together. Chara cut down Price’s sightlines and drew several defenders. Morris’s shot landed on goal and bounced out to Bergeron. All that was left was for Bergeron to ram the puck home at 19:08 for the tying goal.
“Great play,’’ said Bergeron. “Finally won that faceoff there on the second try. Great play by Rex to get it to the point, good shot by Mo, Z was taking three guys in front. I was just on the side of the net to get that easy rebound. I’ll take it.’’
It actually was the second time Bergeron found the back of the net. In the second period, after Price failed to cover a puck, Bergeron raced past Jaroslav Spacek and poked the puck out of Price’s glove and into the net at 17:35. But video replay showed that Marco Sturm, who was battling with Roman Hamrlik, had jostled the net loose and lifted it just high enough for Bergeron’s shot to roll in.
“I thought it went in because I went around the net and the puck was behind the net,’’ said Bergeron (seven shots in 22:21 of ice time). “That’s why there’s instant replay, and I guess the call was right.’’
The replay wiped out what would have been the tying goal. In the first period, ex-Bruin Glen Metropolit gave the Canadiens a 1-0 lead.
In the neutral zone, Dennis Wideman collided with Matt Hunwick, allowing Andrei Kostitsyn to drive to the net and whirl around the cage. Metropolit was stationed in front, took Kostitsyn’s pass, and beat Thomas at 17:32.
The Canadiens almost doubled their lead during a five-on-three power play in the second (Sturm off for holding the stick, Chara for cross-checking). Brian Gionta, who had set up at the far post, tried to sweep the puck into the net. But Thomas recovered just in time to flash his stick in front of Gionta’s shot and bat it aside.
Thomas (25 saves) has let in only four goals in his last three starts. He’s been rewarded with three losses.
“When you talk about our game defensively, our penalty kill, five-on-five, five-on-four, we’ve been so much better in the last couple weeks,’’ Julien said. “You can just imagine, if we can get the other part of our game going, we should be a pretty good hockey club.’’