The Bruins went into yesterday's matinee against the Philadelphia Flyers with the No. 6 power play in the National Hockey League. On the other hand, the Flyers had the worst penalty-killing percentage. But in this upside-down, inside out, unpredictable 2005-06 season, what you expect isn't always what you get.
Boston was held off the board (0 for 4) on the man-advantage -- with zero shots on its first three opportunities -- and Philadelphia cashed in twice on six chances. That proved to be the difference as the Flyers took a 5-3 decision at the TD Banknorth Garden.
Peter Forsberg had two goals and an assist to lead the Flyers, and linemate Simon Gagne had a goal and two assists.
Goaltender Andrew Raycroft made 22 stops but acknowledged it wasn't enough.
''We played good enough to win," said Raycroft. ''I didn't make a save again. It's just so frustrating. I thought we had a good effort. We had all the momentum going halfway through and they got a couple of power plays and scored on them. It kills us.
''I don't know what to say, it's pretty obvious what's going on out there. I'm just not doing enough, I don't think, and I have to find a way to do that. The bottom line is I have to find a way to win games. That's what I'm here for. I'm the last line, so I have to stop pucks."
Gagne put the Flyers up, 1-0, at 16:11 of the first period when he took a backhand pass from former Bruin Mike Knuble and beat Raycroft from just outside the left post for his league-leading 21st goal of the season (the Rangers' Jaromir Jagr also has 21).
The most bizarre tally of the season came at 4:15 of the second, with the Flyers on the power play. Hal Gill tried to clear the puck from behind the Boston net but it took a wacky bounce off the glass, popped high over the net, hit Raycroft in the back, and dropped behind him. Eric Desjardins was credited with the goal.
''I've never seen it on a highlight or anything," said Raycroft, shaking his head. ''That was pretty unbelievable, but when things are going bad, things like that happen and you've got to fight through it."
Gill was similarly stunned.
''I don't know what to say about that one. I just tried to bump it behind the net and get it in the corner," said Gill. ''I couldn't practice that or ever do that again in my life. Things like that happen. You try to get past it. It was kind of bobbling there and I wanted to get it away from the guy and hopefully get it in the corner, especially with [Raycroft] behind the net. I just whacked it . . . it just went in off the back of [Raycroft]."
It was by no means the end, though. The Bruins battled back to take the lead, scoring three goals in a span of 4 minutes 9 seconds of the second period. Eric Nickulas, elevated to the top line with Joe Thornton and Brad Isbister because of Glen Murray's groin injury, started the rally when he beat Antero Niittymaki at 5:42. Thornton tied it at 8:42, coming off the bench to take a long lead pass from defenseman Milan Jurcina. Jiri Slegr gave Boston its only lead, at 9:51, connecting on a screened shot from the middle of the offensive zone.
But penalties came back to haunt the Bruins. With Travis Green off for holding, Forsberg made a perfect shot from the right circle that beat Raycroft to the top right corner at 11:04.
''I've got to find a way to get my shoulder on it," said Raycroft. ''I've got to have it, bottom line."
Forsberg potted the eventual winner at 13:06 on what turned out to be a comedy of errors for the Bruins. Gagne skated the puck down the left circle and Jurcina made a nice diving play to poke the puck off his stick. However, momentum carried the puck to the net and Raycroft was forced to make a left leg save. Slegr was skating in from the other side but was too deep when the puck squirted out to Forsberg, who banged home the rebound. Shortly afterward, Forsberg was forced from the game because of a right groin strain.
With 1:16 left in regulation, Bruins coach Mike Sullivan pulled Raycroft for an extra attacker with the faceoff in the Philly zone, but Boston couldn't cash in. Patrice Bergeron's shot was blocked by Michal Handzus, who fired all the way down the other end for an empty-net goal with 23.8 seconds remaining.
''The goals they scored on the power play were strange goals," said Sullivan. ''Really, the difference was the special teams. Their power play got two and ours didn't."