CALGARY, Alberta - Early in the afternoon, following the Bruins' workout at the Saddledome, coach Claude Julien warned his team about being satisfied with the first two stops on the trip.
"Four points are good," said Julien, referring to 1-0 wins in Edmonton and Vancouver. "But at the same time, we don't want to win just two out of three. We want to be greedy."
Gordon Gekko said much the same in "Wall Street" during America's financial heyday, but the Bruins proved hopelessly short in the greed department last night, falling to the powerful Flames, 3-2, after falling into a deep, content slumber in the second period (outshot, 20-9, in the 20 minutes).
"We lost every race, we lost every battle," said Julien, enumerating his team's second-period sins. "Usually, those things are our strong suit, but we let them get the best of us."
After opening with confidence and a bit of a shooting flurry, the Bruins connected in the first period when Patrice Bergeron stripped goaltender Miikka Kiprusoff of the puck behind the net and curled a forehander into an empty net upon reaching the left post. The Bruins were ahead on the scoreboard, 1-0, and they also held a 5-0 shot advantage. Talk about greedy. The sellout crowd of 19,289, known here as the "C of Red," sat in stunned silence.
"I wasn't surprised to see him back there," said Bergeron, noting Kiprusoff's costly flight of fancy out of the crease. "I guess he was looking to make a quick move with it. But I got it and at first I was looking to make a pass. But then I figured, I'll just take it to the net."
In very short order, perhaps falsely believing one goal will win all games, the Bruins dropped their competitive level (downshift, activate cruise control) and ended up gifting the Flames the 2 points in the standings. Dion Phaneuf ended Tim Thomas's shutout streak at 145 minutes 47 seonds on the trip (154:43 overall) when he rushed to the top of the crease and tipped Jarome Iginla's centering pass off the right wing at 2:29. Tied, 1-1, on the power play.
"I thought he was going to make a pass to the back door, and I was guarding against that," said Thomas. "I kind of got caught in the middle on that one."
With 1:23 left in the middle period, the Bruins yet to stir from their slumber, Mike Cammalleri was one of many Flames crowding the slot when Phaneuf fired again on a power play. Cammalleri made the tip and the Bruins trailed for the first time since leaving Boston for their Western Canada sojourn.
"I saw the shot go off, and it was headed for my head," said Thomas. "Then it banged on Bergy's glove and went by me. I saw the first part of that, but the rest of that information I'm giving you off the replay."
Boston woke up in the third, after a briefing by a peeved coaching staff between periods.
"We got an earful," said veteran defenseman Aaron Ward. "Our effort in the second period, in terms of things like battling for pucks, just wasn't there. Man for man, everyone in here feels we should have finished this trip with 6 points. But it's our own fault."
Early in the third period, Dustin Boyd bumped the Calgary lead to 3-1, racing down the right side and connecting with a wrister from close to the faceoff dot. Blake Wheeler then closed it to 3-2 at 12:16 when Milan Lucic slipped a crisp backhand pass out of the slot to the left side for the rookie to convert with a quick snap. Wheeler initially sent a pass into the middle, but Lucic sent it back tic-tac-toe style for Wheeler to one-time.
"Talk about a tap-in," said Wheeler, now with three goals. "[Lucic] really made a nice play there. My pass to him was off, right in his feet, and he sent it right back to me."
It was one of 14 shots the Bruins mustered in the final period, proof they had it in them all along, but lost their focus, lost their edge, and lost their chance to run their winning streak to four games.
"You get in penalty trouble like we did in the second and you can't get any rhythm to your game," said Marc Savard. "Their first goal, they got a little lucky on that, because I got a stick on it and Timmy went to poke it . . . but you know, we really only played one period tonight, that's the bottom line. That's not enough in this league."
Greed may be good. But last night, the Flames were better.