Bruins' penalty kill lets them down against Habs

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Bruins' penalty kill lets them down against Habs

By Danny Picard
CSNNE.com

BOSTON -- The Bruins entered Thursday night's game against the Montreal Canadiens with the best penalty kill in the NHL. The Habs came into the TD Garden with the worst power play in the league.

If the Bruins were going to lose to the Northeast Division's first-place team, it certainly wasn't going to be by way of special teams, was it?

But indeed, that's the way Thursday's 3-1 loss to Montreal went down in Boston. Who would have thought?

The Canadiens' first two goals of the game came on the power play, and were enough to secure the win and keep the Habs ahead of the B's in the standings. They came off the sticks of P.K. Subban, 5:19 into the first period, and Brian Gionta, 29 seconds into the third.

"That's what happens, you know," said Bruins captain Zdeno Chara after the loss. "You can't go a whole year without shutting teams down."

That much is true. The B's went from a league-leading 90.9 penalty-kill percentage to a fifth-best 87.8 percentage, while allowing two power-play goals in five penalty-kill attempts on Thursday night.

Subban gave Montreal a 1-0 lead after he received a perfect cross-ice pass from Andrei Markov and fired a one-timer slapshot past Tuukka Rask from the top of the left circle just 18 seconds after Bruins rookie Tyler Seguin was called for tripping.

Chara tied the game at 1-1 late in the first, but the Canadiens were able to take the lead once again on Gionta's power-play goal in the third.

Gionta took a nice saucer pass from Michael Cammalleri that sailed over a sprawling Dennis Seidenberg and one-timed it past Rask for the 2-1 lead.

"Their power play was, I think it was pretty good," said Seidenberg. "I mean, I tried to take away the shooting lane and passing lane, and Cammalleri made a real nice pass to Gionta, and kind of almost batted it out of the air. So it was a real nice play he made, and I think if you make plays like that, you get goals."

"I would kind of give them credit for doing a good job, too," said coach Claude Julien. "Not to say that our penalty kill should be excluded from that, but, you know, it wasn't a good night overall, and I think, again, sometimes fatigue and maybe decisions weren't the best at times, and it cost us a few goals."

It cost them the game.

What has been one of the Bruins' biggest strengths this season let them down on Thursday night in an important divisional game.

"We kept it simple," said Gionta about his team's power play. "When we got away from that, we weren't getting it in the zone there a couple times.

"On the power play and the penalty kill, we just took a shot," he added. "Got set up, got in position, and just took a shot. Same thing kind of with the other power-play goal. We won the battle down low, in off the dump, kind of supported each other, kicked it back out, and then some plays kind of opened up from there."

"Special teams was the difference in the hockey game," said Canadiens coach Jacques Martin.

It can't be put any better than that.

Danny Picard is on Twitter at http:twitter.comdannypicard

Monday, Jan. 15: Matthews jersey sells for big money

Monday, Jan. 15: Matthews jersey sells for big money

Here are all the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading while wondering what Claude Julien would do if one of the Bruins players was running Facebook Live during his postgame comments.
 
*Auston Matthews is obviously making a huge impression in Toronto as his Centennial Classic jersey sold for over $11,000 at a charity auction.
 
*Clark Booth knows it’s time to talk about the NFL, but instead he wants to talk about Milt Schmidt. I agree with Clark.

*Sabres goalie Robin Lehner says that his Buffalo teammates need to start doing their job as the season circles down the drain.

*Pierre McGuire talks with TSN sports radio about the Ottawa Senators, and the tough road trip coming up for them.
 
*PHT writer Cam Tucker has more bad news for the Tampa Bay Lightning as Ryan Callahan is going to be out for another four weeks with a lower body injury.
 
*As the Detroit Red Wings continue to round up the bottom in the Atlantic Division, Thomas Vanek may become trade bait.
 
*Peter Budaj is giving the Kings the saves that they need with Jonathan Quick out long term with injury.
 
*For something completely different: Tom E. Curran points out some togetherness issues with the Pittsburgh Steelers based on Antonio Brown’s Facebook post.
 

B's determined to 'keep it going' during good offensive run

B's determined to 'keep it going' during good offensive run

BRIGHTON, Mass. -- The Bruins are going through a nice, little bountiful stretch of offense right now after a half-season of struggle.

The Bruins are averaging more than three goals per game in their last 12 contests, and have scored a whopping 22 goals in their last six games including dropping six scores on the Flyers Saturday afternoon at TD Garden. Combine that with the 7-for-25 performance on the power play during the month of January, and things are finally starting to catch up with a Bruins team that was all shoot/no score for months of frustrating hockey this season.

“If you want sustained success then you have to be good defensively, but you also have to score some goals. That’s definitely part of it and we have to keep it going,” said Patrice Bergeron, who has four goals and eight points in his last nine games after struggling out of the starting gate. “You’re not going to get rewarded every night like we did [against the Flyers], but you have to find that consistency where you’re close to having that every night.”

One thing nobody should expect out of the B’s, however, is to get outside of what they do well now that they’ve started slapping some numbers up on the board. Instead the Bruins are intent on their bedrock of disciplined defense and sensational goaltending with the added offense just making it much tougher to beat them these days.

“I don’t know if we can stand here and say we’re going to sustain that we’re scoring lots of goals. I think what we need to sustain here is winning more games than we lose,” said Claude Julien. “That’s what we’ve got to sustain. Whether it’s a 1-0 or 2-1 game, or it’s a 5-2 or 5-3 game it doesn’t really matter. It’s about winning hockey games much more than it’s about how much you scored, and how much you don’t score.

“Overall when I look at the scoring chances we’re giving up per game, that doesn’t seem to have changed. Goals allowed may have changed a little bit lately, but overall I think we’ve been very steady in that area [of defense].”

So now the Bruins will again be looking for that ideal balance of offense/defense when they take the ice against the Islanders on Monday afternoon for their second straight matinee at TD Garden.