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PENGUINS 3, BRUINS 2

Bruins lose grip, fall in OT

Thornton penalty costly in OT defeat

PITTSBURGH -- The coach called it a lack of discipline. The captain called it a flat-out farce.

No matter whose point of view you agree with, the result was the same.

Center Joe Thornton's second roughing penalty of the third period yesterday resulted in the Penguins tying the game at 2-2 at 12:03 and Ryan Malone scored in overtime to lift Pittsburgh to a 3-2 victory over the Bruins at the Igloo.

Boston's road winning streak ended at six games.

Coach Mike Sullivan said Thornton should've remained in control instead of reacting in frustration to the WWE-style hooking, holding, and tackling he was subjected to by the Penguins. Thornton said he's simply had enough with what he feels is bad officiating.

"You can't take 'em," said Sullivan, whose team had a 2-0 lead heading into the third. "Can't take 'em, that's the bottom line. I know he gets mauled out there, he gets hooked, and he gets held and clutched and grabbed, but we've got to find ways to fight through it and that's what discipline is.

"I can understand his frustration. He's a big guy and because he doesn't fall down they don't seem to call the penalties [committed against him]. But at the end of the day, he's got to be more disciplined because that's what's going to help us win." "It's ridiculous," said Thornton. "It's not hockey. They obviously don't want to let the offensive guys play their style, that's for sure. But what can you do? You're not in charge of the officials. I'd change a lot of things."Thornton said he felt no choice but to react. "I've been taking it for 12 games," he said, his voice rising. "When do you say stop? You'd think someone in the league office would kind of wonder what's going on with the officiating. But nobody's throwing any questions up. I've seen enough."

For much of the afternoon, the Bruins were in command. They badly outshot the Penguins in the opening 20 minutes, 14-5. Mike Knuble scored Boston's first goal at 2:53, his sixth of the year. Thornton skated the puck around the net from left to right while wearing Penguins center Mike Eastwood like a heavy overcoat. Eastwood wound up tripping Thornton into the right circle and a delayed penalty was called. Thornton retained control of the puck, dished it to Knuble in the right circle, and he wristed it between the legs of goalie Marc-Andre Fleury.

P.J. Axelsson made it a two-goal advantage at 9:34 of the second. Brian Rolston took advantage of a turnover in the neutral zone by Brian Holzinger and grabbed the puck along the left boards. He flung it down to Axelsson at the blue line and Axelsson wristed a shot from the right circle that beat Fleury to the stick side.

The Bruins appeared to be in control, especially with Penguins star Mario Lemieux out of the lineup after the first period because of a hip flexor injury. But then the momentum shifted, the frustration built, and the collapse came.

Rico Fata scored at 7:15 of the third to start things off and then Fata cashed in again with Thornton in the box.

After the game, Thornton said he was fed up. Ironically, it was Lemieux who loudly complained about obstruction earlier in his career, saying it was driving him out of the game, and yesterday it was his team committing it.

The Boston captain was asked if the obstruction is worse this season than last. "There's no question," Thornton said. "At the start of the year [a season ago], at least they were calling something. This year, it's grab a rope and go to work. It's unfortunate that hockey is going this way."

Thornton said what makes him the most furious is that other players don't get called for riding him like a horse but he is whistled off for his reactions to it. "As far as I'm concerned, I should be able to get away with anything," he said. "I don't think all year I should be called for a penalty. I should get the Lady Byng every year. I don't even know what's a hold in this league anymore. I really don't know."

He said if the trend keeps up, he will consider not fighting to stay on his skates.

"You see the diving penalties," he said. "We're big guys and we don't like to dive but that might be the last resort. "Maybe I've got to start diving, and hopefully they'll call something because it's obvious it's not being called right now. Something has to change."

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