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Shift leaves him off center

Peverley suffers 1st loss with team

By Barbara Matson
Globe Correspondent / March 6, 2011

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The Bruins lost their fizz in the second period of last night’s game with the Pittsburgh Penguins, and that was an adjustment for Rich Peverley.

Peverley, a veteran forward acquired from the Atlanta Thrashers Feb. 19, was asked to step into Patrice Bergeron’s spot centering Brad Marchand and Mark Recchi, when Bergeron had to travel out of town for personal reasons.

The line change was not such a big adjustment, as Peverley had played center in Atlanta, and last night, he had little trouble making connections with his new linemates.

But the hard-charging Penguins caught a desultory Boston squad slogging its way through the second period and then held off a Bruin rally to claim a 3-2 victory in overtime.

That was a bigger adjustment for Peverley — the first time he lost a game in a Bruins uniform.

After Peverley’s arrival in Boston, the Bruins won five straight, part of a seven-game win streak. Routinely playing on the wing with center Chris Kelly and Michael Ryder, Peverley did just about everything right.

“He brought some speed and he’s a crafty centerman and a crafty player,’’ said Bruins coach Claude Julien, “so he was a logical choice, I think, to be put in [Bergeron’s] spot.’’

Zdeno Chara scored the game’s first goal at 7:26 of the second period, but that’s when the Bruins seemed to run out of steam.

“I think there’s areas where we weren’t the greatest,’’ said Ryder. “They came at us hard and we knew they were going to do that.’’

The Bruins had little response when the Penguins scored twice in a span of 70 seconds to take a 2-1 lead after two, so Julien shifted his players around in the third, hoping to stir up something. Ryder joined Peverley and Marchand, and the combination found speed on its first shift. Ryder had at least three scoring chances in the first 30 seconds of the third, trying to knock a bouncing puck past Marc-Andre Fleury from a series of spots in front of the net. All he got was close.

“We definitely had some chances,’’ said Ryder. “That one shift, we were all over them — I had three or four chances — and then they come back and score. Just the breaks. It’s tough when you lose a tight one like that, especially after tying it up there at the end [of regulation].’’

Chances don’t show up on the score sheet.

“That second period, and the second half of the first, we didn’t seem to have any spark,’’ said Julien. “So you move guys around a little bit, hoping that will give them a jolt. And I thought the guys responded pretty well.’’

Peverley ended up with 19:17 of ice time, tops among the forwards. But it was not until the final minute of the third that the Bruins cashed in a chance.

Now the only adjustments left to make were in the team’s expectations.

“We got a point out of it and that’s a positive thing,’’ Ryder said. “We’ve got a game Tuesday against Montreal. We’ve got to look past tonight and move on.’’

That’s the sort of swift transition the Bruins could have used against the Penguins.

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