Bruins rewarded for effort
Diminished lineup falls short in shootout
PHILADELPHIA - Life without Milan Lucic and Marc Savard won’t be easy, but the Bruins left here last night with another point tacked up in the standings, their third point in two nights, adding to their growing sense of resiliency in a season that already has tested their depth, patience, and physical well-being.
“You have to stand up and show the coach he can rely on you in these moments,’’ said plucky center Steve Begin, who scored his second goal in as many nights in what turned out to be a 4-3 shootout loss to the Flyers at
Not even halfway to the season’s quarter pole, the Bruins, last year’s regular-season champs in the Eastern Conference, have seen circumstances cast them as survivalists, the NHL’s version of the Spirit of ’76, drummer, fife player, and flag carrier. Their overall effectiveness diminished by the losses of Lucic (broken finger), Savard (broken foot), and Shawn Thornton (injury undisclosed), they nonetheless held the lead briefly here, 2-1 early in the second period, before ultimately succumbing to Claude Giroux’s shootout goal.
Giroux, Philly’s third shooter in the bonus round, connected on Tuukka Rask (third start this year) with a doorstep forehander that slipped inside the right post after Boston shooters Blake Wheeler and Patrice Bergeron failed to put their shots by Ray Emery. Michael Ryder followed Giroux with a chance to extend sudden death, but the club’s top right winger rang a short-range forehander off the left post, snuffing out the Bruins’ bid to win on back-to-back nights.
“Bergy had [Emery] beat on his shot, but he lost the puck off his stick,’’ mused coach Claude Julien, who was pleased to see what he felt were decent efforts in consecutive games for the first time this season. “Ryder’s shot hit the post. I guess this is why hockey purists don’t like shootout . . . sometimes it’s just luck, but it’s what you get in today’s NHL.’’
For the most part, what the Bruins got was a decent, cohesive effort against a Flyer club also still in search of consistency. The Flyers could have run off with it early, if not for some solid stops by Rask, who saw the Flyers roll up a 27-16 shot lead over the first two periods. But even with all those shots, it was deadlocked after two periods, 3-3, and it would remain that way through the third and overtime.
Chris Pronger started the scoring, handing Philly a 1-0 lead at 12:03 of the first when his long-range one-timer deflected by Rask. The Bruins tied it on a Derek Morris one-timer from the left point during a power play, captain Zdeno Chara sending over a blind backhand relay from above the opposite circle.
“Not blind,’’ corrected Morris, who connected for his first goal as a Bruin at 17:26 of the first. “He knew that he had two guys on him over there and they wouldn’t have a guy high in the zone to pick it off. Perfect pass by Z.’’
With only 7:36 gone in the second, Matt Hunwick flipped a long-range wrister toward the net, a safe play that turned into a goal when it threaded through two defenders and teammate Mark Recchi parked in front. But that lead lasted all of 65 seconds, negated when Darroll Powe knocked in a top-of-the-crease forehander after defenseman Mark Stuart was felled by a stick to the mouth that gashed open his upper lip. Stuart was stitched up quickly, returned in the period, but played only intermittently in the third (look for Johnny Boychuk possibly to replace him tomorrow night in Ottawa).
Only 6:54 remained in the second when ex-Canadien Arron Asham gained a half-step on newcomer Brad Marchand and nailed in a slapper from the right faceoff dot. But with 3:34 to go before the break, the hard-charging Begin barreled down the slot and swatted in a rebound left by Emery after stopping Byron Bitz’s bid from the right side.
The Bruins had a prime chance to win it in the third when the Flyers were assessed a minor with 1:37 to go, but that almost backfired tragically when Jeff Carter picked off a Morris pass intended for Chara and marched down the ice for a breakaway attempt on Rask. But Rask, with his 34th and final save in regulation, preserved the point.
“In the shootout, I thought of trying to poke it off his stick,’’ said Rask, noting the Giroux winner, a forehander that beat him to the glove side. “I came close, but, you know, shoulda, woulda, coulda. But I thought our effort was pretty good. We took the bull by the horns, battled hard for two nights, and came away with three points. Not bad.’’
No, not bad at all, amid some fairly bad circumstances.