Ryder gives Bruins the edge in shootout
The longer they go, well, the longer they have to go. The Bruins, who nightly stretch the game clock beyond even a plastic surgeon’s wildest dreams, went to overtime last night, for a fifth time in six games, and ultimately left the Garden with a 4-3 win over the Senators thanks to Michael Ryder’s solo strike in the shootout.
Ryder’s shot, the fourth in the shootout, capped a wild night in which the Bruins fell into an early 2-0 deficit, battled back for a 3-2 lead on the strength of three power-play goals (we’re not making that up . . . three!), then watched in near disbelief, if not horror, as the Senators tied it on a sloppy goal (Milan Michalek’s second of the night) with 19.1 seconds remaining in regulation.
“I cost us the point,’’ lamented Bruins goalie Tim Thomas, frustrated over how he yielded the tying goal, allowing the Senators, a divisional rival, to escape Causeway Street with a point. “I felt terrible. I let the team down, big time. I felt like they deserved the win with the effort . . . they deserved to win outright. So at the time, it’s one of the worst feelings I’ve had in four years here with the Bruins.’’
Worth mentioning, though, is that Michalek won unfettered passage down the left side after the Senators won a faceoff with 25.1 seconds left. They sent in a play, executed it, while everyone in Black and Gold watched. Thomas should have made the stop, sure, but Michalek waltzed down the wing as if the Bruins were clearing the floor for “Dancing with the Stars,’’ the Senators having yanked goalie Brian Elliott for the extra attacker.
Overall, the Bruins finally showed far better speed and attack, especially through the middle of the ice and in and around the crease - areas they have showed little gumption over the first 25 games of the season. Even with the Senators able to build a 2-0 lead in the first eight minutes of the first period, the Bruins kept moving, kept taking shots, and resisted the temptation to stay out of the heavy action. Finally.
David Krejci connected for the first one on the man-advantage at 0:59 of the second, collecting Mark Recchi’s feed off the left side and finishing with a clever backhand lift at the left post. Midway through the period, with Chris Kelly in the penalty box, Ryder fired in his seventh of the season with a pinpoint wrister, moments after trading passes with captain Zdeno Chara.
“We really battled hard to get those two goals back . . . we fell behind the 8-ball right away,’’ said Chara. “For sure we came with a better and more hungry attitude in the second period.’’
By the end of the night, the Bruins fired 58 shots Elliott’s way, 33 making it to the net. The Senators, meanwhile, snapped off 38, with 22 making it to Thomas. Clearly, the Bruins were more intent on moving their feet, maintaining possession, forcing the play . . . making . . . things . . . happen.
It was Dennis Wideman, with only one goal prior to last night, who provided the 3-2 lead with 9:19 gone in the final period. Skating high to the slot with a pass from Chara, he sailed in a 50-foot wrister that was helped immensely by the screen set by Recchi and Ottawa defender Filip Kuba.
“It’s been a long, frustrating time since the last one went in,’’ said Wideman, who had been without a strike since the second game of the season.
The Senators looked as if they would pull away with an easy win with two strikes in the opening eight minutes. Daniel Alfredsson nailed in the 1-0 lead, ripping a 30-foot wrister by Thomas, who was fooled on the first shot he faced in a fortnight at 4:52 of the first. Only 2:30 later, working on a power play, Michalek dropped in the 2-0 lead.
The sellout Garden crowd of 17,565 watched Patrice Bergeron, while attempting to kill the Ottawa power play, fall to the ice in a heap just seconds before Michalek’s shot found the net. He first appeared to lose the edge of his right skate, or maybe roll his ankle, and then got nailed by Kuba’s slapper.
Bergeron needed assistance to get to the dressing room, and needed nearly the remainder of the period to make it back to the bench. He put in a good shift in the final minute of the period and played effectively the rest of the night (24 shifts, 16:01 ice time).
“He didn’t roll the ankle or anything,’’ said Bruins coach Claude Julien. “[The injury] was the result of the shot. He left and came back . . . he feels fine and hopefully that is the end of it.’’
In the shootout, Bergeron, Blake Wheeler, and Krejci failed to score, as did Alexei Kovalev, Jason Spezza, and Alfredsson. After Ryder sniped in his doorstep forehander, Thomas blocked Mike Fisher’s backhander at the left post to preserve the win.
It was Boston’s fifth shootout victory this season, the 11th overtime game in all, and nine of those have gone to the shootout.
“Obviously,’’ said Thomas, “I was just hoping that we would win it in overtime.’’
These days, getting things done short of a shootout would be a short workday.