Bruins caught in act
Canadiens’ flops contribute to win
MONTREAL - At 18:51 of the second period, Milan Lucic hacked the back of P.K. Subban’s leg and the Montreal defenseman crumpled, sending Lucic off for slashing.
“They easily could have called a dive on that one,’’ said Brad Marchand. “I’ve never seen a guy go down so quick with a little love tap.’’
It was just one of the handful of times Subban and the Canadiens made the Bruins blow their tops. At 10:25 of the second, Andrew Ference was sent off for roughing after he popped Subban in the face. With Ference in the box, David Desharnais scored what turned out to be the winning goal in Montreal’s 4-2 victory.
The worst time a Bruin blew his top came at 3:38 of the third on a Boston power play. Nathan Horton, upset at several cross-checks he absorbed from Hal Gill, went into the corner with the Montreal defenseman and went back at him. Horton was sent off for cross-checking, wiping out the power play. It was the turning point in the loss, the Bruins’ seventh of a season that is quickly slipping away.
At the time of Horton’s penalty, the Bruins were trailing, 3-1, and were pushing on the power play.
“There were some tough calls out there,’’ coach Claude Julien said of the work by referees Dave Jackson and Justin St-Pierre. “We all know you always get called for retaliating. They did a good job of initiating. We got caught retaliating. It ended up being some tough calls against us. It cost us some goals. I thought it was a tough night as far as some of the calls were concerned. That’s my opinion. But overall, you don’t blame that. You look at yourselves. We have that reputation. We have to be careful, because they’re looking at us to do those things - retaliating then penalizing us. We’ve got to be smarter in that area.’’
If nothing, the Bruins have proven to be consistent in their poor start. Last night, like in many of the previous losses, the Bruins struck iron early (hitting two posts). They got frustrated, committed uncharacteristic defensive mistakes, and then lost control.
Playing with bite is part of the franchise’s DNA. It served a major role in the Bruins’ Stanley Cup run last year. The Bruins are at their best when they’re skating and hitting hard, driving pucks deep, and wearing down opponents with physical play. When the Bruins were angry last year, they were also good.
This year, they’re acting tough in all the wrong ways. They know, better than most teams, that Subban thrives on agitating and that he’s not afraid to embellish contact to draw calls.
Last night, Subban suckered the Bruins twice - two times too many.
“We had No. 63 last year getting under everybody’s skin,’’ said Julien. “We thought he did a great job at that - at goading people into taking penalties and frustrating them. I don’t discredit him for doing his job if we’re not smart enough to take that responsibility not to get goaded in. That’s our problem.’’
For the sixth time in seven games, the Bruins allowed their opponent to score first. At 15:26, Tomas Plekanec hammered a power-play shot from the point. The puck deflected off Brian Gionta and beat a helpless Tuukka Rask (23 saves). At 16:42, Lars Eller went one-on-one with Adam McQuaid and snapped a shot over Rask’s glove to give the Canadiens a 2-0 lead.
Meanwhile, Rich Peverley had struck a post early in the first. Later in the period, Marchand whistled a wrister off the left post.
“It would be a different game if those would go in,’’ Zdeno Chara said. “That’s just the way it is. Sometimes you have to have better luck on your side. Right now, we don’t have it. We can’t get frustrated. We’ve got to keep trying.’’
At 1:05 of the third, Eller was nabbed for tripping, giving the Bruins their first power play. At 2:09, Gionta was also called for tripping, giving the Bruins a 56-second two-man advantage and a crack at trimming the two-goal deficit.
During the five-on-three, David Krejci took a cross-crease pass from Lucic and gunned a one-timer off the left post. The Canadiens killed Eller’s penalty, but still had 30 seconds remaining before Gionta could leave the box.
But then Horton lost his head for the second time this season. On Oct. 18, Horton killed a rally when he was called for a roughing double minor against Carolina’s Tim Gleason. Last night was a similarly ill-advised penalty against Gill.
“I don’t think guys want to take bad penalties,’’ Chara said. “It’s just the way it’s happening. There are a lot of emotions involved in these games. Guys sometimes do things that are just automatic. I’m sure if you asked them, they would take those mistakes back. It’s OK to play with emotions. But you have to be smart about it.’’
Tyler Seguin scored a six-on-five goal at 19:05. But Plekanec scored an empty-netter - Julien had swapped Rask with Tim Thomas to gain a few seconds for his skaters to recover - at 19:48.
And now the Bruins are left looking for answers.
“I have no doubt,’’ Chara said. “I believe in this team. I know what we have. I know we’re in a deep hole. But if anybody can get out of it, it’s this team.’’