RALEIGH, NC – The Bruins had their chances with plenty to play for in Carolina, but once again they came up just a little bit short.
With a chance to retake first place in the Northeast Division and an opportunity to clinch a playoff berth with just a single point, a Joe Corvo power play goal in the third period proved the difference-maker in a 4-2 loss to the Canes at PNC Arena.
It was even through a couple of periods as the two clubs exchanged goals, and traded plenty of punches along the way.
The game opened up in favor of Boston as a Matt Bartkowski blast ricocheted off Milan Lucic’s skate while the big power forward was camped in front of the net, and snapped a nine game goal-scoring drought for No. 17. Otherwise Carolina dominated the first period and tied it up on the power play with a Jeff Skinner shot off a rebound that floated in behind Tuukka Rask’s pads.
Amid all of the scoring action were three different fights in the first period: the first time anybody in a Bruins uniform had dropped the gloves since March 27. Shawn Thornton, Zdeno Chara and Gregory Campbell all scrapped for the Black and Gold in a healthy show of some angry emotion.
The Hurricanes jumped ahead in the second period on a pretty Eric Staal-to-Jiri Tlusty play, but the Bruins tied it up again when Andrew Ference stripped Alex Semin and fed Tyler Seguin on a partial breakaway.
Seguin snapped it over Peters, and both teams headed into the third period all tied up. Jiri Tlusty wrapped it up in the final minute with an empty net goal when the Bruins experienced major difficulties getting the puck out of their own end.
GOLD STAR: Jaromir Jagr finished with an assist on Milan Lucic’s first period goal, and generated 13 shot attempts in his 21:51 of ice time skating with Gregory Campbell and Lucic. Jagr also had a point blank shot denied when Justin Peters somehow made a glove save on him on the PP after David Krejci had found him with a pass on the backdoor. The ice time, the offense generated and the way he makes things look so much more fluid and easy on the power play are game-changing skills for the Black and Gold. Unfortunately it didn’t result in an extra goal to send it to overtime and help Boston clinch a playoff berth tonight. Only Andrew Ference and Zdeno Chara finished with more ice time than Jagr in Saturday night’s loss. That’s pretty good for a 41-year-old.
BLACK EYE: Nathan Horton had one shot, zero hits and a minus-2 in 15:44 of ice time and really didn’t provide much of anything for the Bruins. The normally affable right winger has bristled at criticism when he hasn’t played well this season, but he was incredibly invisible again in a game where the Bruins could have claimed first place in the Northeast Division and clinched a playoff spot. Horton needs to be better if the Bruins are going to reach their potential, and that goes double when they’re missing players like Brad Marchand and Patrice Bergeron in the lineup. He wasn’t the only player struggling, but it was noticeable in that you didn’t notice him at all.
TURNING POINT: The Bruins had a 2:45 second stretch of continuous power play time in the second period and generated a handful of chances, but couldn’t get anything past Justin Peters. Jaromir Jagr was setting up both Jordan Caron and Rich Peverley with offensive chances through his creativity on the PP, but both players are a far cry from Mario Lemieux and Mark Recchi among some of the other great finishers Jagr has played with through his career. When Jagr couldn’t bury a perfect backdoor pass from David Krejci because Peters made a one-in-a-million glove save it seemed like it wasn’t going to be Boston’s night.
HONORABLE MENTION: Jiri Tlusty had six shots on net and a pair of goals including a key strike in the second period that kept Carolina with the upper hand on the Bruins – and was a constant threat skating around with Eric Staal throughout the game. As it often does when a guy is really putting out top drawer effort, the puck found him in the final minute of the third period when he buried an empty net goal to finish off the Black and Gold for good. Tlusty has 19 goals on the season and has quietly put together an incredible campaign for Carolina as one of the key forward cogs along with the Staal Brothers.
BY THE NUMBERS: 9 – the number of shots produced by the Bruins power play in three power play possessions, though they weren’t able to hit pay dirt.
QUOTE TO NOTE: “It was just one of those nights, eh? I felt like every time we were out on the ice our line had a scoring chance. Sometimes it was just out of place. Just a good save on that five-on-three…I shot it high too.” – Jaromir Jagr, feeling a little frustration after the Bruins only managed two goals against one of the league’s worst defensive teams.