B's shut out for fourth time in 10 games, 2-0

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B's shut out for fourth time in 10 games, 2-0

ST. PAUL, MN The Bruins are officially in a rut that they cant find the escape hatch for.

The Bruins dropped their second game in a row and their third in the last four contests with a sleepy 2-0 defeat at the hands of a desperate Minnesota Wild team at the Xcel Energy Center. Its the fourth time that the Bruins have been shut out in the 10 games since Nathan Horton went down with a mild concussion, and serves as a reminder that the Bs are struggling in just about every imaginable area.

After a competent, scoreless first period things started breaking down for the Black and Gold in the second period. The Wild were able to move the puck through the neutral zone with speed, and Chad Rau went to the net unmolested before looking off Tim Thomas and firing a seed short-side for the games first score.

A borderline tripping call on Chris Kelly later on in the period left the Bruins shorthanded, and Bs killer Matt Cullen made them by on his second-effort wrister after fanning on the first shot attempt.

The Bruins poured it on with22 shot attempts in the final period after being spurred on by a long Shawn Thornton bout with Matt Kassian. But Wild goaltender Niklas Backstrom provided the exclamation point when he robbed Milan Lucic at the bottom of the right face-off circle in the final minutes.
GOLD STAR: Shawn Thornton ended with four of his lines nine shots on net and he tangled with 6-foot-5 Matt Kassian in the third period hoping to spark his teammates. He took a couple of big punches early, but got in a few of his damaging shots in the Bs longest bout this season. After the game Thornton was sporting a big red welt on his forehead and was still catching his breath after the exhausting bout, and had emptied the tank trying to inspire his team. Thornton was one of the few Bs players that gave everything they had against the Wild on Sunday.

BLACK EYE: Brad Marchand has three goals, and only eight points, in the 14 games since coming back from a five-game suspension and has been much more tentative with his physical play. Marchand was close to invisible in 19:24 of ice time in a sleepy effort against the Minnesota Wild on Sunday afternoon, and has only one goal in nine games during the month of February. He may have caught some flak for the clipping hit on Alexei Emelin, but playing with the edge is the only way to go for the Bs agitator.

HONORABLE MENTION: Niklas Backstrom made 48 saves and frustrated the Bruins to the point where Milan Lucic twice went on stick-swinging rampages in the third period including smashing his stick to bits on the bench at the end of the third period before throwing it onto the ice as the final buzzer sounded. Backstrom was very good early in shutting down attempts from Daniel Paille and Andrew Ference, and then made 22 saves when it counted in the final period. He didnt look at all like a goalie riding a personal five-game losing streak, so perhaps Tuukka Rask can take heart in the bounce-back effort.

TURNING POINT: The Bruins had a handful of excellent scoring chances early in the contest when it was still up for grabs, but Niklas Backstrom stopped Daniel Paille cold on a couple of quality chances and stopped Andrew Ference on a one-timer during Bostons first period power play. Once the early scoring chances were off the board, the Wild took advantage of the frustrated Bs and rode their two second-period scores to a clean victory.

BY THE NUMBERS: 4 the number of times the Bruins have been shut out in 11 games without Nathan Horton after registering only two shutouts in their first 46 games with the Bs power forward.
QUOTE TO NOTE: Were a better team than we have been when weve been shut out lately. Frustration is something that can drag on for a long time if you let it. Like weve told the guys you can be bitter or better, so lets work on getting better here. Claude Julien on the mindset of the Bs team amid a 17-game stretch of mediocre hockey.

Thomas strains right groin, says he'll 'be fine for Wednesday'

Thomas strains right groin, says he'll 'be fine for Wednesday'

The bumps and bruises continue to pile up for Isaiah Thomas, adding a new one to the group during Boston’s 107-106 loss at Houston. 
 
The 5-foot-9 guard said he strained his right groin in the second quarter, but added that the injury won’t force him to miss any games. 
 
“I’ll be alright,” Thomas told reporters after the loss. “I’ll get treatment. I’ll be fine for Wednesday (against Orlando).”
 
The injury appeared to have happened shortly after Houston’s Trevor Ariza hit a 3-pointer that put the Rockets ahead 55-45.
 
At the time it didn’t seem all that serious as Thomas, who had 20 points on the night, came down and drained a 3-pointer. 
 
But after the game, Thomas acknowledged his groin did bother him during the game in which he played 33-plus minutes. 
 
“A few drives I didn’t have the lift,” said Thomas, who finished with 20 points. “It is what it is. I’ll figure it out.”
 
Thomas, who played in all 82 regular season games last season in addition to each of Boston’s 21 games this season, has dealt with an assortment of injuries including but not limited to, a swollen middle finger injury on his left (shooting) hand. 
 
Thomas, an All-Star last season for the first time, has played at an elite level that should once again position him to be represent the Eastern Conference. 
 
Following Monday’s game, Thomas is averaging a career-high 26.0 points per game which ranks ninth in the NBA along with 6.1 assists. 

Smart: 'Can’t blame the officials for the outcome of the game'

Smart: 'Can’t blame the officials for the outcome of the game'

The fact that the James Harden of the Houston Rockets went to the free throw line 18 times which was more than the entire Celtics roster (12 free throw attempts total) certainly fired up conspiracy theorists among Celtics Nation. 
 
But what seemed to draw the most ire was what appeared to be a 3-pointer by Avery Bradley late in the fourth quarter that was initially called a long two-pointer. 
 
And after it was reviewed by the good folks in Secaucus, N.J., they allowed the ruling to stand because there wasn’t enough proof in the many replay angles for them to overturn the original call. 
 
The missed lay-ups by Al Horford and Isaiah Thomas in the closing seconds stand out, obviously. 
 
But the 3-pointer that wasn’t a 3-pointer was one of the more talked-about topics in the Celtics locker room afterwards. 
 
“From the angle we saw, it was a three,” Boston’s Marcus Smart told reporters after the game. “We definitely thought it was.”
 
Said Jae Crowder: “I thought it was a three. Nothing we can do about it now.”
 
It was that kind of game for the Celtics, one in which plays that could go either way more often than not, went against them. 
 
And while Bradley’s questionable two-pointer certainly was a factor in the game’s outcome, as was the free throw discrepancy and the late-game misses, ultimately the blame for Monday’s loss falls upon the Celtics players who were still in position to win despite all those setbacks.

They simply didn't get it done, when it mattered.
 
Smart, who had 13 points off the Celtics bench, understands that fans like to blame the officials when a game ends like Monday’s loss to Houston. 
 
“Officials, they did their job,” Smart said. “You can’t blame the officials for the outcome of the game. We made some costly plays down the stretch. Give credit to the Rockets. They made plays and executed down the stretch.”