Kampfer hold hands victory to Predators
NASHVILLE — Steven Kampfer, in the penalty box during Shea Weber’s overtime winner last night at Bridgestone Arena, had little explanation for why he dragged down Mike Fisher less than two minutes earlier.
“Bad penalty,’’ Kampfer said after the Bruins’ 4-3 loss to the Predators.
“I’ll be the first one to admit it. Bad penalty on my part. I cost the team the game. It’s my fault. There’s nothing more to say.’’
The only explanation, figured coach Claude Julien, was a mental mistake. When Fisher entered the corner more than halfway through overtime, there was no need for Kampfer to take a penalty. The Bruins had men back and positioned well to stave off any attack the Predators might have constructed. Instead, Kampfer wrapped his arms around Fisher, hauled him down, and made an agonizing skate to the box at 2:59.
With 1:23 remaining, Weber, who has one of the hardest shots in the league, took a pass from Ryan Suter. When Weber launched a shot with traffic in front, Tuukka Rask had no chance at the thundering slapper.
“Real bad penalty there in overtime,’’ said Julien. “We’ve seen that lately. A lot of bad penalties. That’s more mental than physical. Because I thought our team battled hard tonight. This is a desperate team, a very good team. They play hard. I thought we played hard for two periods. I thought we came out really well in the third period and played like we were going to win this hockey game. Then you give them that tying goal and a bad penalty at the end. We have to get sharper with our decision-making. Right now, it’s becoming too costly for us.’’
Julien wasn’t sending any roses toward Kampfer for a third-period play, either. The Bruins held a 3-2 lead after Patrice Bergeron busted a tie at 1:42. At 8:46, the Bruins went on the power play when Martin Erat high-sticked Bergeron. The Bruins could have buried the Predators with a power-play goal.
Didn’t happen. The Bruins failed to score on the power play, which was just the first of their mistakes. Upon conclusion of the power play, Zdeno Chara tried to get off the ice. When Chara went for the bench, that opening allowed Erat to get a breakaway on Rask. Erat cut across the crease, hoping to create an opening. Rask stayed with Erat and got in front of the forward’s shot.
A backchecking Kampfer allowed Sergei Kostitsyn to find the rebound and wing a shot on goal. Rask didn’t see Kostitsyn, but still stuffed the forward with his left pad. Instead of pulling up in the crease, Kampfer slid into the net on his stomach, preventing Rask from sliding back into position. With no backcheckers in sight, David Legwand put the third and final shot into the net at 10:56. A disgusted Rask sent his stick sailing into the corner.
“Tuukka bails us out,’’ said Julien. “Then our D, which is Kampfer on the backcheck, ends up flat on his stomach in the crease. All he had to do was stop in the slot. The first save’s made. The puck’s in the corner. But you end up flat on your stomach for no reason. There’s nobody there and it’s a goal.’’
The Bruins believed Bergeron had scored the winner. Mark Recchi had pulled the puck off the right wall and hit Bergeron in the high slot. Bergeron, using Jonathon Blum as a screen, whistled a shot through the defenseman that Pekka Rinne couldn’t stop. It was Bergeron’s first goal since Feb. 26. He had gone a season-high seven straight games without a point.
“Hopefully that’s a lot of weight off his shoulders, scoring a goal and getting back on the scoresheet,’’ Julien said. “Hopefully we can build on that kind of stuff moving forward.’’
Had the Bruins busted through on the power play, it might have been a different outcome. The Bruins were 0 for 3, including a five-minute advantage late in the first and early in the second. At 17:30 of the first, Patric Hornqvist leveled Tyler Seguin with an elbow to the head. Seguin needed stitches to sew his left earlobe together.
Hornqvist was tagged with a five-minute elbowing major and a game misconduct. The best chance came when Milan Lucic whistled a shot off the crossbar early during the power play. But the Bruins couldn’t break through, which left the game tied at 1-1.
Halfway through the second period, Colin Wilson beat Rask short side with a long-distance softie. Rask said the puck was curving but that it went in clean. Johnny Boychuk was defending Wilson on the shot.
“Besides the second goal, which I’m sure he’d like to have back, I thought [Rask] made some big saves,’’ Julien said. “He was good and solid for us tonight. To me, this bodes well moving forward. When you’ve got two good goaltenders, you feel a lot more comfortable.’’
Fluto Shinzawa can be reached at email@example.com.