ST. PAUL, MN While the Bruins couldnt have been happy about the results after losing their sixth game in nine tries during the month of February, there was one group of players that had nothing to hang their heads about.
The Bs fourth line totaled nine shots in the game and generated a handful of prime scoring chances in the first period when the game was still very much in question. Their play quickly proved Bruins coach Claude Julien correct for reuniting Daniel Paille, Shawn Thornton and Gregory Campbell after breaking them up during Friday nights loss to the Winnipeg Jets.
The best shot in the first period was Pailles breakaway midway through the first period when he split a pair of Minnesota defenders, but fired his shot straight into Niklas Backstroms chest in the 2-0 loss at the Xcel Energy Center.
The missed chances early by Bostons Merlot Line had their members kicking themselves after it was all over.
Weve got to put a couple of those in and maybe its a different game, said Thornton. I always say its never a lack of effort with us, but sometimes maybe its a lack of execution. I dont want to put too much pressure on us, but I think creating energy and keeping the puck out of the net is our job. Then again look at the opportunities were getting . . . we should be able to chip a few of those in.
Paille wasnt the only that couldnt get his shot to fall with Backstrom making 48 saves in the shutout against the Black and Gold, improving the Wild to 10-1-1 in their history against the Bruins. Theyve also outscored the Bs by a 35-16 margin during that time period, so the Bs knew theyd have to come up with something special.
Thornton attempted that in the third period when he challenged 6-foot-5 Minnesota brawler Matt Kassian to a fight designed to get his stagnant bench back into the game. Thornton and Kassian battled to a draw after the Wild enforcer had landed a couple of heavy punches early in the bout, and Thornton screamed a challenge at the Bruins bench as he skated off to the penalty box.
I thought it was a good plan to get the bench going with a lot of time left on the clock, said Thornton. That was the plan.
Unfortunately the emotion didnt carry over into the scoreboard, and instead Thorntons long heavyweight bout turned into one of the few Bs highlights in their fourth shutout defeat in the last 11 games. Julien appreciated the effort from his fourth line and it served as one of the few gleaming positives in a game that ended with Milan Lucic splintering his stick in a series of angry swings at the boards while heading to the bench.
There was some energy from that line. You can always count on those guys to play with that. They were good and Paille had that breakaway. They spent a fair amount of time in the offensive zone and some shots, said Julien. Theyre certainly doing their job, but they also see what were going through and want to contribute to what were doing in the offensive end."