KANATA, Ontario -- The Bruins flirted with fortune for 40 minutes last night, but flirt turned into fright in a hurry in the third period, when they lost hold of a 2-0 lead and stumbled out of Scotiabank Place as 5-2 losers to the quick-strike Ottawa Senators.
Only five days removed from their horrific 10-2 thumping at the hands of the Maple Leafs, the Bruins lost for the fourth time in five games, the Senators clicking off three goals (Mike Comrie, Dany Heatley, Daniel Alfredsson) in a span of 10:03, and later adding a pair (Patrick Eaves and Patrick Schaefer) within 60 seconds of each other.
"I think I've seen a few of those third periods this year when the momentum turns like that," said Bruins netminder Tim Thomas, who buckled under an onslaught of 19 third-period shots, after the Senators mounted only 17 in the first 40 minutes. "I think we got bit by some things that had been happening all game."
Specifically, the Bruins ended up paying for the losses of top blue liners Zdeno Chara (out with injury) and Brad Stuart (attending his son's birth) and the added loss of Jason York (wrenched MCL) after only his fifth shift. The backline decimated, the Bruins nursed goals by Marco Sturm (penalty shot) and Paul Mara through two periods, leaving Thomas in shape to record his second shutout.
Then came the third period.
Short of late word from the North American Geological Society, there was not an earthquake in this end of Ontario. As for the Boston end of the ice in the third period, it had faults to rival the Bay area and beyond. Like too many nights this season, and especially last Thursday, the Bruins all but forgot to play offense in the third, stood around like a collection of Black-and-Gold traffic cones, and ultimately disappeared in the abyss created by their lack of effort.
"They put a good press on in the third period," said Bruins coach Dave Lewis, who called a timeout when Heatley hammered home the tying goal with 5:43 gone in the third, a futile attempt to break the Senators' momentum. "And we'd lost Jason York early on.
"I thought for the most part we held up quite well, but in the end we couldn't get it done."
York, though a veteran, is not called upon to do anywhere near the work usually turned in by the likes of Chara (possibly to return tomorrow against the Islanders) and Stuart (back for sure tomorrow night). But this was a night the Bruins really needed him, and his loss only put more burden on rookies Matt Lashoff and Jonathan Sigalet, the latter of whom made his NHL debut.
The Senators, after moping around for two periods, scored at will with their attack turned up in the final 20 minutes. Comrie struck first at 2:22, set up by Schaefer. Heatley was back only 3:21 later, nailing in a 20-foot wrister after some devilishly clever stick work, waltzing in from the neutral zone.
The backbreaker went to captain Alfredsson, who swept in the winner after the astute Heatley plucked the puck away from a charging Andrew Alberts in the neutral zone and carried down the left side. Alberts caught up, hectored Heatley from behind, but then helped to steer the puck into the slot as he attempted to make the strip. Alfredsson was there for the easy collect.
"Not sure what happened there," said a disconsolate Alberts, who saw his valiant effort to carry the puck up ice turn into a U-turn to disaster. "I'm not sure if it was off my stick or [Heatley's] stick, but it was a bad bounce, and it went right to their guy."
Earlier, when things were going Boston's way, Sturm potted his penalty shot at 2:40 of the first period after Andrej Meszaros hauled him down from behind on a shorthanded break-in. Sturm, on the free attempt, skated to the top of the crease and put a doorstep forehander by Ray Emery (17-10-1) on the stick side.
Later in the first, Mara hammered home a long one-time slap, after Mark Mowers delivered a short feed inside the blue line.
The Bruins had ample chances in the second period to make it 3-0, but were thwarted on three power plays, rarely generating controlled possession in the offensive end, never mind delivering shots.
"We held, we held, we held," said Lewis, reviewing the night's work gone for naught. "Finally, it broke down. They capitalized on some little plays; they're pretty opportunistic.
"What disappointed me was our power play. We could have made it 3-0, and we had a lot of veterans out there, but didn't bury it."