B's have problem to kill heading into playoffs

B's have problem to kill heading into playoffs
April 18, 2013, 9:00 am
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BOSTON -- A story about the Bruins' penalty kill isn't necessarily on the top of the priority list after an emotional night like Wednesday night at the TD Garden. There were clearly more important things to take care of. For one, regaining hope in a city that was starving to get together and show support for one another.

So while the Bruins lost 3-2 to the Buffalo Sabres in a shootout, it certainly wasn't the end of the world. The B's did picked up a point, which was enough to clinch a playoff berth.

But when the playoffs roll around in a few weeks, the Bruins will have to make sure that their penalty kill doesn't look the way it's looked the past two games. And it hasn't looked good.

The B's allowed two more power-play goals on Wednesday. That marks four power-play goals allowed in the last two games. Both losses. It's no coincidence. 

If the Bruins are only going to have the 23rd-best power play in the NHL, then they'll have to continue to be the one of the best penalty-killing teams in the league if they want to make a serious run at a Stanley Cup.

The Bruins entered Wednesday's game with the NHL's best penalty kill. But both of Buffalo's goal in regulation on Wednesday came as the B's were on the man advantage. On Saturday night, the Bruins allowed two power-play goals to the Hurricanes in Carolina.

Both led to losses. So is it a concern?

"It's something that's been good all year," said Patrice Bergeron after Wednesday's loss. "So we just need to tighten up, but not panic.

"The past two games, yeah, we've got to be better. But it's about looking at video and just making sure we're back at it."

Thomas Vanek scored Buffalo's first goal on Wednesday tied the game at 1-1 in the first period on a shot from the middle-point that beat Anton Khudobin high. In fairness to the Bruins, it was Zdeno Chara in the penalty box, which certainly doesn't help their ability to kill it off.

The Sabres' second goal came with 26.6 seconds left in regulation, on a Cody Hodgson goal that hit off his right leg and beat Khudobin, tying the game at 2-2. Andrew Ference was in the box for that one, as he was called for "delay of game" with 48 seconds remaining, after inadvertently flipping the puck over the glass in his own zone.

NHL rules state, however, that -- regardless of intent -- a delay-of-game penalty will be assessed whenever a player shoots the puck out of play

"It sucks," said Ference. "Even the ref came over, he's like, 'I hate that call.' [The puck] was bouncing around, and literally, I don't know if it hit the top or if it hopped up my stick or whatever, but it literally just went straight up. You're trying to move it over behind the net to your partner.

"I mean, that's the call. He has to make it. It sucks. It's not a bad call, just a tough circumstance with that kind of a rule. That's the way it is."

When the Bruins look at the tape, they'll find that they can't have their best penalty killers in the box. They'll also find that, as of right now, it isn't the end of the world.

"We just need to clear the puck when we have the chance," said Bergeron. "Just be a little tighter. We've been great all year [on the penalty kill], so I don't think we really can start panicking right now. It's about realizing that we do have the guys to do the job. Just tighten up a bit, and make sure the puck stays out of the zone or the net."