LEAFS 6, BRUINS 0
Leafs zero in on listless Bruins
So far this season, the Bruins have proven to be one of the worst penalty-killing teams in the NHL. Coach Mike Sullivan has addressed it with his players and worked on it in practice. Now, if the coaching staff ever needs to show video examples of what not to do when the other team has the man advantage, last night was as telling as it gets.
In the battle for first place in the Northeast Division, the Bruins came up woefully short against the surging Toronto Maple Leafs, losing by the biggest margin of the year, 6-0, at the FleetCenter.
Boston surrendered three power-play goals on five shorthanded situations, one in each period. So much for any confidence the team might have built in beating the Southeast Division-leading Atlanta Thrashers a night earlier.
"Once again, our penalty killing cost us," said Sullivan. "We've got to be better and find a way to kill the critical penalties off that allow our team to stay in the hockey game."
From the get-go, it seemed as if the home team, which had traveled back from Atlanta Wednesday night, simply had no legs. The Maple Leafs beat them to the punch, were physical, and had far more jump. Sullivan said he sensed that mismatch early on.
"I thought we had probably three or four players going that had sufficient energy to be effective," said the coach. "We tried to throw some different line combinations to spark the team, but once again, I think it boiled down to our special teams. They win and lose games for you, and tonight it lost it for us."
The last time a Maple Leafs team shut out the Bruins in Boston was Jan. 10, 1994, when Felix Potvin was in Toronto. This time, Potvin was on the losing end of the score. It was the 67th career shutout for Ed Belfour and clearly was one of his least challenging.
The Maple Leafs got on the board with their first power-play goal when Joe Nieuwendyk scored at 16:23 of the opening period. Tie Domi made it 2-0 at 12:19 of the second and Nieuwendyk's second of the night - at 7:25 of the third - effectively put the game away. But Toronto wasn't done. The visitors added three even-strength goals in the period, with the Bruins having abandoned any semblance of defensive-zone coverage. Defenseman Bryan McCabe potted one at 8:13 and Darcy Tucker netted two more less than a minute apart at 13:33 and 14:01.
The second game of the season - at Tampa Bay - was a horror show as the Bruins were run over by a 5-1 score. That was a terrible performance, but this one was even worse and it was a tough pill to swallow for everyone in the dressing room.
"It was a real bad game," said defenseman Nick Boynton. "I don't know what else to say. I'm at a loss for words. Nothing seemed to go very well for us, but that's our fault. We've got to work to make our chances and work to score goals and we weren't doing it."
Boynton refused to use fatigue as a factor.
"That's just a bad excuse," he said. "We're professional athletes, supposedly, so we should be all right to play two in two. In the minors, we used to play three in three and it wasn't really a problem, so this is definitely not an excuse."
Potvin was subdued afterward.
"They outplayed us bad tonight," said the netminder. "We've just got to bounce back. You've got to find your legs. You can't use it as an excuse. A lot of teams play back-to-back games, but they were clicking tonight."
With Philadelphia coming in tomorrow night, the coach said they have to learn from it and move on.
"It's real disappointing," said Sullivan. "It's a big game. It's for first place in our division against a team that is going pretty well right now. You play those type of teams and it gives you a chance to see where you're at and we're not there right now."
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