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Stars are not shining

Top line needs to pick up game

The Bruins get together to celebrate Benoit Pouliot’s tying goal in the third period. The Bruins get together to celebrate Benoit Pouliot’s tying goal in the third period. (John Tlumacki/Globe Staff)
By Fluto Shinzawa
Globe Staff / April 15, 2012
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The pane of glass that tumbled onto David Krejci after Game 1 of the first-round series against the Capitals didn’t keep him out of Saturday’s lineup. But Krejci didn’t contribute as much as he’d hoped.

For the second game in a row, the Bruins’ most offensive-minded center had little presence in the offensive zone. In 27 minutes 57 seconds of ice time, Krejci had three shots, as he and linemates Milan Lucic and Rich Peverley combined for eight of Boston’s 44.

That’s just not enough.

“I just don’t think we’ve been playing our game, especially my line,’’ Krejci said after the 2-1 double-overtime loss. “I don’t know what it is. But we have to find a way to help each other out there. It sometimes seems like one guy’s working and the other two are just waiting and hoping for the puck to have a good scoring chance. But it doesn’t work like that. We’ve got to help each other out there and go do that. We have good players and good size, too. We should be able to get some scoring chances.’’

For most of Game 2, Washington coach Dale Hunter rolled out defensemen Karl Alzner and John Carlson against Krejci’s line. Alzner and Carlson have served as this year’s version of Hal Gill and P.K. Subban, the Montreal duo that helped to keep Krejci’s line from exploding in last season’s first round.

Lucic had just two shots in 26:34 of ice time. Peverley landed three shots in 26:40.

Bruins coach Claude Julien didn’t single out any of his misfiring forwards. He didn’t have to.

“We’ve got guys we expect to be better in the battles,’’ Julien said. “Right now, they’re not good enough.’’

The line’s best chance came in overtime. Krejci swerved around Alzner and sliced through the slot unmarked. As Krejci tried to snap off a shot, the puck bobbled off his stick. By the time Krejci recovered, his preferred shooting angle was gone. Krejci sent his shot just wide of Braden Holtby at 4:19.

“Two goals over two games,’’ Krejci said. “It’s not good enough.’’

Line gets it straight

For the last two years, a core characteristic of the Bruins’ identity has been the overpowering nature of their fourth line.

The most regular iteration - Daniel Paille, Gregory Campbell, and Shawn Thornton - has almost always outmatched its fourth-line counterparts. They have speed, skill, and grit. They are responsible defensively. They can create instant energy and give their team an instant advantage.

That’s why it was surprising that for stretches of Game 1, the best fourth line on the TD Garden ice wasn’t wearing Black and Gold. For more shifts than the Bruins would prefer, the stronger fourth-liners were Washington’s Keith Aucoin, Mathieu Perreault, and Joel Ward.

“At the end of the day, you want to be the better line,’’ said Julien. “Their fourth line was pretty good for them, too. An area we’d like to see them get better at is maybe being a little more dominant.’’

The Bruins’ fourth-liners responded with a better effort in Game 2. Thornton led the team with five shots in only 8:02 of ice time. Paille put one shot on goal and dished out three hits. Campbell recorded two shots and two hits.

“They’re putting pucks at the net and they’re going to the net,’’ Julien said of both the fourth line and the No. 3 unit of Benoit Pouliot, Chris Kelly, and Brian Rolston. “Some of the other lines are trying to be a little too cute. It ends up with nothing. Nothing to show for it.’’

Room enough

Washington scored its first goal at 17:57 of the second period, even after Tim Thomas looked like he’d get his glove over the puck. Thomas explained, however, that he couldn’t get his paddle down behind the puck because defenseman Greg Zanon, who had hit the deck, was in the way.

As Thomas waited for Zanon to move, Troy Brouwer backhanded the puck into the net to give Washington a 1-0 lead.

“I didn’t even know that Brouwer was over there,’’ said Thomas. “I didn’t even see the stick.’’

Rask improving

Tuukka Rask remained out of uniform for the second straight game, as Anton Khudobin again was Thomas’s backup.

Rask, however, continues to recover from his lower abdomen/groin strain. He is likely to join the team on the trip to Washington.

“Tuukka’s coming along real well,’’ Julien said. “Right now, he’s at the point where it’s more about strength and conditioning than his injury. He feels good. But having been out of it for a while, as a goaltender, you’ve got to do some conditioning and some strengthening. He’s been going hard for the last little while. [Saturday] was actually his day off to recover and rest, then he’s going to go hard at it again. I can’t tell you exactly when he’s going to be in, but everything’s going in the right direction. It’s those two elements I talked about that are stopping him from getting back in our lineup.’’

McQuaid remains out

Adam McQuaid (eye/head) again sat out, and there is no determination on when he might practice. “Things are looking better for him,’’ said Julien. “We’re going to hope that continues. That’s basically all there is right now. There’s nothing negative about his situation. We’re hoping he continues to be day-to-day. All of a sudden, if he feels extremely well and he can see well and everything else, then he can get it going.’’. . . Mike Mottau and Jordan Caron were the healthy scratches. Given the lack of chemistry between Lucic, Krejci, and Peverley, the Bruins might have to consider dressing Caron for Game 3. Caron has not looked out of place alongside Krejci and Lucic . . . Dennis Seidenberg led all players with 33:44 of ice time.

Fluto Shinzawa can be reached at fshinzawa@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @GlobeFluto.

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