Canadiens 3, Bruins 2

The bad habits persist

Bruins blow a lead; Canadiens roar back

By Fluto Shinzawa
Globe Staff / February 5, 2010

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For the second straight game, the Bruins hammered more than 40 pucks on the enemy goalie. For the second straight game, the Bruins limited their opponent to 25 shots. For the second straight game, the Bruins looked at their fingers and toes to total up the number of Grade A scoring chances they had.

But for the second straight game, the Bruins failed to win.

Last night before 17,565 at TD Garden, the Bruins - after owning a 2-0 second-period lead - allowed two goals in 39 seconds and dropped a 3-2 shootout

decision to the Canadiens. Brian Gionta was the only player to score in the shootout, lifting a backhand top-shelfer over Tuukka Rask.

The Bruins haven’t won in nine straight games, the franchise’s longest streak without a victory since an 11-match string of futility from Dec. 3, 1924, to Jan. 5, 1925.

“We have to stay positive,’’ said coach Claude Julien. “You have to, because you don’t have a choice. You don’t get out of this by just quitting and saying that we don’t have answers. We have to keep working at getting those answers. Part of those answers is finding a way to finish.’’

Two nights after ex-Hab Jose Theodore slammed the door on the Bruins 41 times in Washington’s 4-1 victory, Jaroslav Halak became the latest goalie to look like the next Patrick Roy against the Black and Gold. Halak turned aside 40 shots in regulation, stopped five more in overtime, and plopped the maraschino cherry on the sundae by foiling David Krejci, Michael Ryder, and Marc Savard in the shootout.

The Bruins, however, have made it a habit to make every goalie resemble a brick wall.

“I don’t know whether to cry or laugh here,’’ said Rask (23 saves). “I think we pretty much dominated the whole game. We get good chances, but their goalie plays an unbelievable game. We go to the shootout, and I wanted to win so bad and make that save. But it happened to beat me there and we took the loss. At least we got a point.’’

The Bruins got their goals via the power play in the first period and five-on-five in the second. With Andrei Markov in the penalty box for lifting the puck into the stands, the No. 2 power-play unit got the Bruins on the scoreboard. As Dennis Wideman and Derek Morris played give-and-go at the point, Mark Recchi broke for the low slot and set up in front of Halak.

Once Wideman took Morris’s pass and stepped into a one-timer, Recchi placed his blade in the shooting lane and tipped the defenseman’s blast past Halak at 15:48.

In the second, Krejci stickhandled through the neutral zone with speed, forcing the Canadiens to sag. Krejci carried the puck wide and flung a bad-angle shot on Halak. The goalie stopped the shot, but Blake Wheeler jumped on the rebound and fired a shot home at 5:25 to give the Bruins a 2-0 lead.

It wasn’t enough.

“Too bad we couldn’t have made it 3- or 4-0,’’ Wheeler said. “Once again, we had a number of good chances to do that. You make it 3-0, then it becomes a little more manageable. Even if you have a couple slip-ups, you still have the game under control.’’

Three minutes after Wheeler’s goal, the Bruins could have made it a 3-0 game when Morris fired a long-distance pass up ice to take advantage of a sloppy Montreal line change. Wheeler had a partial breakaway, but Halak kicked out the wing’s bid with his right pad. Then when Ryder followed up on the rebound, Halak was there to turn his shot aside as well.

Later in the second, Patrice Bergeron eluded several Montreal checkers to spring Wheeler for an in-front chance. Again, Halak stood tall to stone Wheeler.

But after Matt Hunwick was sent off for hooking at 16:08 of the second, Montreal kicked off its comeback. First, after Rask kicked out two Scott Gomez shots, Glen Metropolit scooped up the rebound and scored his 11th goal at 17:06.

Thirty-nine seconds later, with Mathieu Darche setting a screen on Rask, Roman Hamrlik flung a shot from the left point. Rask, peeking around Darche and leaning to his right, saw Hamrlik’s release. But Rask lost the puck momentarily, only to see it hit the back of his net at 17:45.

The Bruins didn’t cave after the two-goal rally. In the third, Marco Sturm fired two short-range shots, including one shorthanded attempt, on goal that Halak turned away. Later in the third, Halak had to scurry to turn back slot shots by Recchi and Bergeron.

Then at 1:19 of overtime, the Bruins went on a four-on-three power play when Hamrlik was whistled for tripping Krejci. But the Bruins managed only one power-play shot.

“It’s there. We’re right there,’’ Recchi said of his team’s effort. “If we keep playing like this, then it could happen. We can get on a big run, and all of a sudden, guys get confident. The puck starts going in for you.

“Those ones that are tipped wide or going wide, all of a sudden they start finding the net. Then all of a sudden, you win 14 out of 15, 14 out of 16, you get on a big roll, and you go into the playoffs feeling pretty good about yourselves.

“That’s hopefully what we can accomplish. We can take a lot of tremendous positives from tonight and last game.’’

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