Bruins' streak comes to a halt in Winnipeg
WINNIPEG, Manitoba - Hockey is such a fast game that all it takes is one mistake for a historic streak to vanish. Last night at the MTS Centre, the Bruins’ Rich Peverley learned that the hard way against an old teammate.
In the third period, with the score tied at 1-1, Peverley lined up for a neutral-zone faceoff against former Atlanta teammate Bryan Little. Little won the draw and immediately sparked his wheels into motion. Peverley, caught leaning the wrong way toward the Winnipeg net, couldn’t do anything to slow Little down. Joe Corvo, also cheating toward the offensive zone, was too flat-footed to halt Little’s progress.
“He got through on the draw,’’ Peverley said. “It’s completely my fault. I can’t let him get through like that. He’s a pretty fast guy, so he went down and scored.’’
Little, on a two-on-one rush with Andrew Ladd against Andrew Ference, slipped a shot past Tuukka Rask at 4:50 of the third period. It was the deciding goal in Winnipeg’s 2-1 victory.
“Clear two-on-one,’’ Rask said. “He made a little backhand-forehand shot there. Just squeezed in. It hit my pants, and then trickled in somehow. It’s just one of those things. Sometimes it stays out. Sometimes it doesn’t.’’
The sequence halted Boston’s 14-0-1 rocket up the Eastern Conference standings. It was the first regulation loss since Oct. 29. Since that setback to Montreal at the Bell Centre, the Bruins had emerged from 15 straight games with at least one point.
“You get used to winning,’’ said coach Claude Julien. “I know the players in there hated it. So did we as a coaching staff. Hopefully we hate it enough to bounce back the next game and win another one.’’
Last night might have been one of their sharper performances of the 15-game march. The Bruins were coming off a 3-1 win over Pittsburgh the night before and the energy-sapping flight that followed. But they had their legs, their wits, and their energy.
Even with leading offensive performer Tyler Seguin watching the game because of his team-mandated sitdown, the Bruins hammered Ondrej Pavelec with 40 pucks. Only one slipped by Peverley’s ex-teammate.
“He played unbelievable,’’ Peverley said. “He was one of the main reasons why they won. He stole games when I was in Atlanta. He’s a really smart goaltender.’’
Pavelec was at his best in the second period. The Bruins blitzed the Winnipeg net with 17 shots. Pavelec turned them all back. Pavelec was sparkling during a second-period power play, which took place after Tim Stapleton was sent off for tripping. During one bang-bang sequence, Pavelec got a piece of a Zdeno Chara long-distance bomb. Then when David Krejci was sniffing for a goal on the rebound, Pavelec repositioned himself to foil the bid.
Late in the third period, the first line threatened again. Nathan Horton had several point-blank chances that Pavelec snuffed out. Milan Lucic, parked in front of the net, put a tying bid wide of the goal.
Just one of those nights.
“Great opportunities in the second,’’ said Julien. “Even in the third with the open nets. We just couldn’t convert on them. One of those nights where goals are tough to score. You’ve got to turn the page and move on.’’
Winnipeg grabbed the lead late in the first period. Ladd pounced on a loose puck in the neutral zone, then went one-on-one against Corvo. Ladd gained a step on Corvo, then ripped a shot on goal. Ladd’s wrister beat Rask on the short side at 18:21, giving Winnipeg a 1-0 lead. Ladd had a game-high eight shots in 20:59 of ice time.
The Bruins tied the game in the third period. Gregory Campbell triggered the play by stripping Jason Jaffray in the Winnipeg zone. Campbell fed the puck to Daniel Paille in the right corner. At the same time, Shawn Thornton cut to the front of the net. Paille fed Thornton, and the fourth-line right wing beat Pavelec at 3:16 to make it a 1-1 game.
“We generated enough chances to probably win this game,’’ Thornton said. “Last month or so, they’ve been going in. Tonight, they didn’t. We’ll turn the page and focus on [tomorrow]. I thought all in all, we played a pretty good game.’’
After Little scored his go-ahead goal less than two minutes later, the Bruins kept coming. Rask bailed out his boys with a desperation stop on Evander Kane at 6:48 of the third to make his finest stop of the night.
But Pavelec and the Jets stood tall, submitting one of their most intense and thorough efforts to hand the Bruins a rare zero-point night.
“There’s no reason to be disappointed here,’’ Julien said. “I liked the effort. Just a tough night where the bounces didn’t go our way.’’