Bruins see winning streak end in 3-2 shootout loss
In retrospect, the Bruins didn’t deserve a 2-1 shootout win over Columbus Nov. 17. On Monday, Tim Thomas submitted a brilliant 33-save performance to give his club a 1-0 win over Montreal that should have been a loss.
Then there are days like yesterday.
Before 17,565 at TD Garden, the Bruins played the puck-possession game that Detroit usually masters. They had better scoring chances on Jimmy Howard than the Red Wings had on Tuukka Rask.
For all that, the Bruins were on the wrong end of a 3-2 shootout loss, one that halted their winning streak at 10 games. It was the conclusion of the fourth-longest winning streak in team history.
“I don’t see it as a setback,’’ Patrice Bergeron said. “We played a good team. You want the win. You don’t want to go out there and be satisfied with one point. That being said, I thought we did some good things. We showed some character to come back in the game. We missed some chances, but still we kept going. In the shootout there, I guess that happens.’’
In the shootout, Howard turned back Tyler Seguin and Rich Peverley, the team’s first two gunners.
At the other end, Pavel Datsyuk, Detroit’s first shooter, snapped a wrist shot past Rask. The Boston goalie then stopped Jiri Hudler, setting up Nathan Horton for a do-or-die attempt. Horton didn’t disappoint, as he snapped a riser over Howard’s glove.
But Todd Bertuzzi ended the winning streak with a low-speed approach that he finished with a close-range tap past Rask (29 saves).
“I don’t think it’s the end of the world that it ended,’’ Bruins coach Claude Julien said. “I think that’s what you’ve got to take out of it. Nothing wrong with the game we played. I thought we were the better team out there. It’s unfortunate. Sometimes those games get decided by individuals. That’s what happened.
“Having said that, we won some games lately that maybe we didn’t necessarily deserve that we found a way to win. That’s what they did [today]. They found a way to win. For us, we got a point out of this game. We move on. [Tonight’s] an important tilt again against a team [Winnipeg] in our conference. You really have to turn the page. Hopefully our guys didn’t get too high on it that it deflates them.’’
Yesterday, the Bruins repeated many of the things they did during their 10-game elevator ride up the Eastern Conference standings. They made life rough on Howard. They got much-needed energy and offensive pressure from their third and fourth lines.
But they couldn’t do much to slow down Detroit’s counterattack.
In the first period, the Bruins outshot the Wings, 13-6. But it was Detroit that took a 1-0 lead into the first intermission.
After gaining control of the puck in the defensive zone, the Wings sprinted the other way with numbers. Once they crossed the blue line, Valtteri Filppula and Henrik Zetterberg played give-and-go. With Rask leaning the wrong way, Filppula tapped the puck over the goal line at 12:43.
Daniel Paille tied the game at 4:05 of the second. But the Wings pulled ahead after another bang-bang play. This time, after Bertuzzi took a cross-ice pass from Johan Franzen, the broad-shouldered wing dished a soft pass to a streaking Datsyuk. The Detroit center kicked the puck to his stick, slashed into the slot, and tucked the puck between Rask’s wickets at 4:40 of the second.
“Pretty skilled player. Probably the highest-skilled player in the league when you look at Datsyuk,’’ Julien said. “We didn’t handle it well. We didn’t have the layers. We let him walk in alone.’’
The Bruins played the heavier game, and it paid off in the third on the tying goal. Seguin started the play by applying heavy forechecking heat on Jonathan Ericsson deep in the Detroit zone. Ericsson got rid of the puck, but he rushed his pass to Zetterberg.
Bergeron, who read how hard Seguin had forechecked on Ericsson, anticipated that he might be able to strip Zetterberg of the puck. Once Bergeron picked Zetterberg’s pocket, he wasted little time firing the puck over Howard (41 saves) at 7:52 to make it 2-2.
“I was trying to read the play there just to surprise him,’’ Bergeron said. “It worked. As soon as I got the puck, I was in the slot. So I had to take the shot.’’
The Bruins’ winning streak may be over. But now, they’re reaping the rewards of the work they submitted during the run. The former last-place team in the East is now comfortably among the conference’s top eight. They’re playing with more confidence. They remain one of the league’s sharpest teams, which nobody could say just a month ago.
“They’ve got good depth and they’ve got good depth in goal, so you can play Rask in this game and not force you to wear out Thomas,’’ Red Wings coach Mike Babcock said. “I like how they play. Claude’s a good coach, obviously. You don’t win the Stanley Cup by accident. They’re a good team.’’