Game against Hurricanes goes south
Bruins powerless to stop power surge
The play could have been golden for the Bruins. Daniel Paille carrying the puck on right wing on the penalty kill. Patrice Bergeron serving as Paille’s support in the middle. Zdeno Chara joining the rush, hopeful that a shorthanded goal could give the Bruins the 1-0 lead they deserved.
Instead, Paille blew a tire and coughed up the puck, Bergeron and Chara were caught up ice, and Tim Thomas recognized that things could go sour quickly.
“I could tell right away that it was going to be an outnumbered situation,’’ Thomas said. “I had time to compose myself and think, ‘This needs to be a big save.’ ’’
Joe Corvo shuttled the puck up to Tuomo Ruutu, and Jeff Skinner joined the rush. Ruutu opened up as if to take a shot, but slid the puck under Dennis Seidenberg’s stick to Skinner, who beat Thomas at 19:44 of yesterday’s first period.
Just like that, the Bruins were down, 1-0, yet again. They have allowed the opening goal in 10 of their last 12 games.
“Tuomo Ruutu opened up really well,’’ Thomas said. “I had to respect the shot. Then I saw Seids going down on the ground. I thought that took care of the pass. The majority of the time it would have. But he made a good pass and our backchecker wasn’t able to catch that guy.’’
Skinner’s goal — the impressive rookie’s seventh of the season — blemished a first period that otherwise was all the Bruins had hoped for. But instead of solving Cam Ward with one of their 12 first-period shots, the Bruins saw a 1-0 deficit mushroom into a 3-0 loss before 17,565 at TD Garden in their annual post- Thanksgiving matinee.
“We’ve got to do something to try and get that first goal in,’’ said Milan Lucic. “We came out with a good start and they were able to get that late one in the first. It kind of sucked the life out of us. Even though the chances were there, we’ve got to do a better job of bearing down and getting that lead.’’
In the three previous games (4-3 shootout setback to Los Angeles, 3-1 loss to Tampa Bay, 3-1 win over Florida), the Bruins were lifeless early. Not so yesterday, when they hammered Ward with quality scoring attempts in the first. Probably half of their dozen attempts were quality, in-tight scoring chances.
Yesterday, the problem went the other way — a quick slide south after sharp execution in the first 20 minutes. While the Hurricanes were a perfect 3 for 3 on their power play, the Bruins went 0 for 4, which included a brief five-on-three.
“I don’t think we were down because we were down, 1-0,’’ coach Claude Julien said of his team’s emotion. “I think we realized we had a pretty good period, and that if we played that way through 60, we’d still have a chance to win. There was a lot of time with 40 minutes left. Unfortunately, that’s not what happened. Our execution got very poor over the course of the game. Our special teams really were unacceptable. That’s basically the story of the game.’’
The Hurricanes followed with power-play goals in the second and third periods. In the second, after killing off 1:58 of Andrew Ference’s tripping penalty, the Bruins allowed a goal two seconds before the defenseman stepped out of the box. After heavy cycling in the Boston zone prevented the Bruins from changing personnel, Ian White, acquired from Calgary earlier this month, let a shot fly on goal.
With Eric Staal planted atop the crease, Thomas could barely see the puck leave White’s stick. As Thomas went into the butterfly, Ruutu, stationed in the high slot, tipped the puck into the net at 11:09.
“Eric Staal was doing a very good job screening me,’’ said Thomas (18 saves). “On that second goal, he screened me real good on the point shot that got tipped. I just butterflied into position and wasn’t able to pick it up. It did tick off me, ticked off my shoulder, but he was doing a real good job. He was even making it hard to follow the passes. He’s a very tall guy and he’s good at screening. He moves into the right places at the right time.’’
Staal struck again in the third, this time after Lucic was banished for goaltender interference. As Staal, again positioned above the crease, took a pass from Skinner, he was dumped by Mark Stuart. But while on his rear end, Staal sent a backhand pass to Jussi Jokinen, who snapped a shot past Thomas at 7:52.
“Nice little back pass on that third goal,’’ Julien said. “Second effort from them. Jokinen knew where to put it.’’