Bruins in giving spirit
MONTREAL - The visiting bench at the Bell Centre is one of those planks too snug to accommodate the backup goalie. So instead of joining teammates, the netminder who isn’t playing sits on a stool all by his lonesome in the runway outside the dressing room at the other end of the rink.
Appropriate, then, that Tim Thomas found himself in that lonely spot to watch the third period.
Thomas, who started last night’s game, was left on an island by his teammates for 40 minutes in last night’s 5-1 bludgeoning before a raucous full house of 21,273. His forwards failed to pick up high men in the zone. His defensemen coughed up pucks as if they were radioactive. The Bruins shot 19 pucks wide and had 22 attempts blocked.
So after seeing the Canadiens pour five pucks behind Thomas (18 saves) through two periods, coach Claude Julien showed some mercy, replacing him with Tuukka Rask to start the third.
“We were just terrible all over,’’ said Julien. “I don’t think there’s anybody that really played well tonight. We struggled moving the puck. Decision-making. Every mistake we made ended up in our net. We get a breakaway early in the game. If [Marco Sturm] scores, it’s a 1-0 lead for us. Instead, we blow a five-on-three, two-minute power play, and they come back and score a big goal. Everything wasn’t going well for us tonight. I guess you could say we were the perfect guests for the Montreal Canadiens.’’
Mike Cammalleri scored three goals in the second period, Carey Price stopped 37 shots, and the Montreal fans partied on Saint Catherine Street after enjoying the pregame centennial celebration and watching their boys lay a beating on the Bruins. The Bruins entered having won six of seven games. They had gained at least one point in their last seven outings.
“From top to bottom, one of our worst efforts of the year,’’ said Thomas.
Thomas? Not at his sharpest, especially when Matt Hunwick flubbed a clearing attempt in the second period and threw the puck into the crease. Thomas tried to trap the puck with his glove, but instead pushed it into the slot for Cammalleri to tuck into the net, making it a 3-0 game.
The defense? Careless with the puck, with Hunwick and Derek Morris committing giveaways that turned into goals.
The power play? As bad as it’s been all year.
At 5:34 of the second period, the Canadiens gave the Bruins, only down 1-0, a much-needed present when Jaroslav Spacek and Maxim Lapierre took roughing penalties. But the Bruins threw their five-on-three gift into the St. Lawrence River.
With Zdeno Chara, Dennis Wideman, Marc Savard, Patrice Bergeron, and Mark Recchi on the ice hunting for the game-tying goal, the Bruins did little to bother Price during the two-minute two-man advantage. They settled for blasts from the point. They didn’t look for anything down low. They stood around instead of skating and moving the puck to create seams in Montreal’s triangle. Price stopped four shots during the power play, but none were of the game-breaking variety.
“Our power play definitely let us down,’’ Wideman said. “We moved it around. We got some good looks. We got some shots. I had one where I think I had the whole side. [Recchi] had a great screen and [Price] didn’t even see it. Just hit the shaft of his stick. Stuff like that. Couple passes when we had good scoring opportunities, they went off a foot or they stopped them. We were what, [0 for 7] or something like that? It’s just ridiculous.’’
Fittingly, the Bruins got burned for their shortcomings at the other end. Less than a minute after the Canadiens killed off the five-on-three, they doubled their lead. Tomas Plekanec, sprung for a partial breakaway, steered his shot wide of the net. But the Canadiens gained control of the rebound, and the Bruins failed to pick up Cammalleri, the third man high. Cammalleri got the puck and beat Thomas at 8:10, turning what should have been a 1-1 game into a 2-0 lead for the Canadiens in the second period.
Cammalleri completed the hat trick at 17:29 after Morris coughed up the puck to Matt D’Agostini in the defensive zone. Cammalleri found a seam in the slot, took a pass from Scott Gomez, and winged his third puck behind Thomas.
For all their second-period dominance, the Canadiens encouraged the Bruins to start a third-period rally after Vladimir Sobotka tipped a Hunwick shot past Price at 4:45. First, Lapierre was called for a four-minute high-sticking penalty. Then D’Agostini went off for slashing at 8:37, giving the Bruins a 1:26 two-man advantage. To top it off, when Plekanec high-sticked David Krejci in the mouth, the Bruins had a six-on-three power play for almost a minute during the delayed penalty.
Naturally, they failed to score.
“Tonight,’’ Wideman said, “was not our night.’’