Bruins pass up chance
Savard miscue leads to a loss to Wild
Marc Savard, like the other four Black-and-Gold skaters on the ice at the time, was tired. The Wild had hemmed the Bruins in their zone for an extended cycle. So when the puck arrived on Savard’s stick, the center tried to flip it out and head to the bench.
Instead, Savard misfired and sent a tape-to-tape pass to Cal Clutterbuck. The Minnesota forward stepped into his shot and beat Tuukka Rask over the glove at 2:22 of the third period.
It was the deciding goal in the Wild’s 3-1 win over the Bruins last night before 17,565 at TD Garden. It was also a misplay that cost Savard playing time.
After the turnover, Savard skated only two shifts — once at 6:02, then again at 18:50 to replace Rask as the extra skater.
“I think when you make a mistake like that, everybody’s got to be accountable,’’ said coach Claude Julien. “It’s one of those things that happens throughout a game. From the first player to the last player, you want to make sure that everybody understands that it was a mistake that you don’t expect a guy like that to make. It doesn’t mean that you lose confidence in him, because you’re going to go right back with him the next game. You hope they bounce back. That’s what coaches do. They coach. And that’s what I did.’’
It was the second time in the last five games that Savard was benched for part of the third period. During the Bruins’ 4-3 win over Lightning Dec. 28, Julien cut his bench to three lines. In that game, like last night, Savard was one of the odd men out.
“He put me right back out there, which was good,’’ Savard said. “He gave me a chance. Then he sat me down for a while. That’s part of the game. You have to ask him. It’s frustrating. I feel like I get better, then something like that hap pens and I get sat down. Confidence is swaying up and down. It’s tough. But I’ve been through a lot worse. So I’m going to hang in there. Whatever happens as we move on here, I’m going to try and get better.’’
Savard, Gregory Campbell, and Shawn Thornton were the forwards who sat last night while Julien went with three lines. But they weren’t the only ones whose games weren’t up to their standards. Milan Lucic and Nathan Horton had only two shots apiece. The line of Blake Wheeler, David Krejci, and Michael Ryder didn’t find their best legs until the third. The power play was so inefficient that by the third, Julien tried a different unit.
After Clutterbuck’s goal, Julien rolled through just about every line combination possible. Patrice Bergeron, who started the night on right wing, moved back to center between Brad Marchand and Mark Recchi. Tyler Seguin replaced Savard as the top-line pivot between Lucic and Horton. Late in the third, with the Wild leading by one goal and Rask still between the pipes, Julien sent out four forwards — Bergeron, Seguin, Lucic, and Recchi — with Zdeno Chara in hopes of nabbing the tying goal.
Instead, with Rask off and the net empty, Recchi broke his stick at the wrong time. As Recchi scurried back to the bench for a fresh stick, Minnesota gained control, broke into the offensive zone, and Mikko Koivu scored an empty-netter with 42.2 seconds remaining.
Like that, Rask (31 saves) was once again the hard-luck loser. Rask, who started the last three games, will most likely be Tim Thomas’s backup tomorrow against Montreal at the Bell Centre.
“This is a goaltender tonight who was outstanding for us,’’ Julien said. “He deserved a better fate. He gave us a chance to win. I feel bad for him because he deserves to be in the win column tonight, not the loss column.’’
The Wild scored first after a questionable second-period hooking call on Thornton. The tough guy touched Brent Burns with his stick on the forecheck. A moment later, Burns lost an edge and tumbled to the ice. Referee Dean Morton sent an irate Thornton to the box at 4:41. Four seconds later, Martin Havlat flipped a backhander between Chara’s legs and past Rask.
“It wasn’t a penalty,’’ said Julien. “Bad call.’’
The Bruins tied the game later in the second. Bergeron applied forechecking heat on Nick Schultz, then stole the puck deep in the zone. Jose Theodore kicked out Bergeron’s shot, but defenseman Steven Kampfer jumped up and tapped home the rebound at 10:50.
“It’s one of those things now where you know time is setting in,’’ Kampfer said. “I feel I can jump more because I’m starting to rely on my speed and knowing that if I do get caught, I can catch the guy coming back.’’
It was a gut-punching loss given the 3-0-2 road trip the Bruins just concluded.
But they don’t have time to ponder the defeat. They’re right back on the road against Montreal and Pittsburgh. Not exactly cream puffs.