Bruins crumble late, Montreal wins in OT
MONTREAL — With the Bruins holding a 2-0 lead in last night’s third period, Michael Ryder committed a critical error. As James Wisniewski carried the puck in the neutral zone, Ryder tripped the Montreal defenseman.
Naturally, the Canadiens scored on the following power play.
Then, only 10 seconds into overtime, Blake Wheeler took a lazy offensive-zone hooking penalty on Wisniewski. The Bruins killed off the four-on-three power play, but Max Pacioretty netted the deciding strike at 3:43 to give the Canadiens a 3-2 comeback win before 21,273 at the Bell Centre.
Such unnecessary penalties often result in unfortunate outcomes.
“I thought we played a really good game until we took that bad penalty in the third,’’ said coach Claude Julien. “We gave up a bad goal, and from there on in, we took another bad penalty in overtime. We shot ourselves in the foot.
“Those are individual mistakes and things that end up costing you. This is where we’ve got to get better. It’s not acceptable that you play so well all night, then those kinds of things come back to cost you a hockey game.’’
The two mistakes were the focal points of a kick-in-the-teeth loss — the Canadiens poured in three unanswered goals in the third period and overtime — that stained 40 minutes of the airtight hockey Julien prefers. The Bruins limited the Canadiens to 19 shots through two periods. Hardly any were the lethal kind.
At the other end, Patrice Bergeron beat Carey Price twice in the second period to give the Bruins a two-goal pad headed into the final 20 minutes — a stretch the Bruins usually own.
But the Canadiens, intent on attacking Tim Thomas with more pressure in the third, controlled the puck in the Boston zone. Instead of getting pucks deep and sustaining offensive pressure, the Bruins sagged too much.
“The one thing we were saying on the bench was to grab control of the situation, make some good outlet passes, and go in the other end,’’ Julien said. “Sometimes momentum changes throughout a game. They’d picked up the momentum at that time. You want to settle things down. You’re still up, 2-0, at that point. You have control of the game. But penalties, neutral-zone penalties and ones in the offensive zone are penalties that, especially late in the game and overtime, you can’t take. They found a way to win. We found a way to give it to them.’’
The Canadiens got a break when Ryder was sent off at 16:32. Just over a minute later, the Canadiens got another fortunate bounce.
Scott Gomez, working the left-side wall, flung a puck toward the net. It appeared to graze off Andrew Ference. As the puck approached the middle of the defensive zone, Thomas still thought it didn’t pose any risks. Even after the puck deflected once more, this time off Zdeno Chara, Thomas believed it wasn’t a dangerous play. Then, according to Thomas, the puck changed direction yet again. This time in a bad way.
Before Thomas had even gone down into the butterfly, the puck was behind him at 17:38.
“My mind couldn’t catch up to it,’’ explained Thomas (39 saves). “It was two little mini-deflections. Then it bounced on the net. After it hit Z’s skate, it hit something. I don’t know if it was a guy’s stick or skate or something. It was going to miss the net. Then it hit Z’s skate and it was still going to miss the net. Or maybe it was going to be right on my stick. About halfway between me and Z, the puck was sideways. It hit something and it just bounced a bit. I should be butterflied and playing it safe. And I didn’t.’’
The Bruins, up 2-1, were inches away from sealing the win. With 1:06 remaining and Price off for an extra skater, Chara’s rink-long clearing attempt skidded just wide right of the empty net. That near-goal, however, was an icing instead. After Jacques Martin used his timeout, the Montreal coach sent Gomez to take the offensive-zone draw against Gregory Campbell and fourth-line mates Daniel Paille and Shawn Thornton, who were on the ice during Chara’s clear.
After the Canadiens won the faceoff, Wisniewski hammered a point shot that Thomas kicked out. But the puck glanced off Brian Gionta’s left skate and beat Thomas at 19:12. The play was reviewed, but Gionta didn’t make a distinct kicking motion.
During the overtime power play, Bergeron, Chara, and Dennis Seidenberg kept a tight PK triangle to prevent the Canadiens from getting backdoor or in-close looks. But on the winning goal, Pacioretty winged the puck through a crowd. Thomas didn’t get a bead on the shot until it was too late — when it was just closing in on his glove.
“We played a solid game,’’ said Ference. “Goofy first goal. Then the second, they’re crashing the net, off the goalie’s pad, off [Gionta’s] foot and in. It’s not like there were huge breakdowns or anything like that. It’s disappointing. But there’s not a whole lot you can change. There’s goals where you want to do things differently.
“There’s goals where . . . that’s what they are. Really. I don’t think any of us on the ice would change a thing we did.’’