BOSTON - In the end, the return of Tyler Seguin was a momentous one for the Dallas Stars.
Rich Peverley scored the game-winner in the shootout for a 3-2 Dallas win after Patrice Bergeron and Seguin traded goals through the first three shooters at TD Garden. The loss leaves the Bruins as losers in four of their last five games as they continue to search for answers over the last few weeks.
Milan Lucic tipped a Dougie Hamilton point shot past Kari Lehtonen for his team-leading seventh goal of the season, and it looked like the 12th goal scored by the Lucic/David Krejci/Jarome Iginla trio this season would be the game-winner.
But the Stars weren’t done.
Vern Fiddler was awarded a penalty shot for Dallas with under five minutes remaining in the game, and he roofed a backhander past Rask to tie it up.
The Lucic goal was the final result of an extended shift for the Bruins in the Dallas zone where Dennis Seidenberg made a nifty play to hold the blue line, and Jarome Iginla did major work moving around bodies in front of the net.
Seguin finished with a couple of shots on net, and didn’t have much of a bearing in the game positively or negatively aside from getting booed pretty strongly by the home crowd. He was on the ice for the game’s first goal: Jamie Benn rifled a shot over Tuukka Rask just 3:38 into the game.
But 38 seconds later the Bruins had the goal to even things up, and set up the matching goals in the third period.
Reilly Smith found Torey Krug pinching down low close to the net, and dropped perfect pass for him at the doorstep to tap in past Lehtonen. Rask was rock solid after the first goal allowed, and finished with 34 saves in a game that was pretty wide open at points.
GOLD STAR: You have to give it to Tyler Seguin, right? The returning prodigal son weathered the boos and endured the catcalls, and launched a stick side rocket to prolong the shootout that Tuukka Rask didn’t even get a chance to react on. He also won 6-of-9 face-offs after coming into the game as one of the worst draw guys in the league at the center position, and ended up victorious when it was all settled. Seguin is still very much the same player he was in Boston: can go through 65 minutes of hockey without really being noticeable, but becomes a world beater when things move to the shootout. You can see why Seguin and Jamie Benn will make a pretty good combo in Dallas.
HONORABLE MENTION: Torey Krug hasn’t been one of the problem areas for the Bruins, and once again made a play in the first period on a backdoor rush that finished with his fifth goal of the season. Krug managed a plus-1 in 17:14 of ice time, and generated six shots on net in an active game. It may be time for Krug to start getting fed more ice time given the energetic way he’s played over the first month, and the tired way other B’s defensemen have appeared through the team’s first 14 games. Krug has been one of the highlights for a team that’s now treading water a bit through the first month.
BLACK EYE: Zdeno Chara finished as a minus-1 with zero shots on net, and left the ice for a sloppy change that set up Vern Fiddler’s rush to the net that promoted a penalty shot call. Chara is now a minus-1 on the season after 14 games played, and really looks like he’s starting to slow down at 36 years old. To put in perspective, the B’s captain was a plus-80 over the last three seasons. Chara was pushed to 29:16 of ice time in the shootout defeat, and is making more physical and mental mistakes in games as fatigue creeps into his game. There’s a price to paid for all the minutes he played last season, and it looks that balance is still due.
TURNING POINT: The Bruins had control of the game through the first 10 minutes of the first period, and seemed to be rolling after Torey Krug tied things up at the 4:16 mark of the game. But the effort slackened in the second half of the first period, and the Bruins dropped a dud getting outshot 13-4 in the middle period. That allowed the Stars to hang around for a competitive third period, and push for the shootout where guys like Seguin and Rich Peverley become dangerous weapons.
BY THE NUMBERS: 0-3-8 – the franchise record for the Bruins in overtime/shootout games against the Dallas/Minnesota franchise, the only NHL team that Boston hasn’t beaten in the extra session.
QUOTE TO NOTE: “You play against your old team and you get a chance to score, you will score. That’s hockey. That’s how I see it. It would have been awesome to stop them and chirp them after. Now the tables have turned, and they’re going to do that to me.” –Tuukka Rask, on Tyler Seguin and Rich Peverley both beating him in the shootout.