By Cary Betagole, Daily Free Press Staff
After resigning their young star left winger Milan Lucic, sustaining a weekend blowout of Carolina and taking an authoritative, 1-0, first period lead over Anaheim, the Boston Bruins were riding momentum on all fronts.
But in the span of 82 seconds, Teemu Selanne undid what felt like all of it.
First, defenseman Matt Hunwick was carted off for interference at the 1:14 mark. Fifty-two seconds later, right winger Marco Sturm followed suit, this time for hooking. Selanne took advantage and changed the mood of the short season, sparking a 6-1 win for the Anaheim Ducks Thursday night at the TD Garden
With a 5-3 man-advantage, the leading active career goal scorer netted his signature slap shot off a kick-out from defenseman Scott Niedermayer, who ranked third in assists among NHL defenseman last year. Then with the 5-on-4 advantage, Selanne saw a broken play come back to him for his second goal of the game.
From there, the game snowballed through a series of solo Anaheim breakaways.
“We’re making it way too easy for teams,” Bruins (1-2-0) coach Claude Julienne said. “We lost faces, we lost battles. They got lucky bounces but when you work hard you get those lucky bounces.”
The Ducks, who entered the game 0-1-1, weathered a 30-17 first and second period shot disadvantage to keep themselves in it, but caught their break early in the second. The Bruins controlled most of the first period and a half, keeping the puck in the offensive end for repeated shots on goal.
At the 16:33 mark, left winger Marco Sturm gave the Bruins a 1-0 lead after outracing three Anaheim defenders to an open spot on the right circle. With no one near the net to rebound, Sturm rifled a blistering slap shot that beat goaltender Jonas Hiller fivehole.
“We had good control of the whole first period,” left wing Steve Begin said.
After Selanne’s strikes, that control had vanished, and right wing Corey Perry padded his stats in wake of its absence.
With 6:58 left in the second, Perry moved left to right through the Ducks’ zone. Perry set his sights on positioning himself for a straight shot, deking around Bruins defenders as he went. And when he did, there was nothing but ice in front him—he buried the shot.
“We need to go back basics,” center Patrice Bergeron said. “We didn’t show up and I don’t think our fans deserve this.”
Giving up six goals is uncharacteristic for a Bruins defense that was the only unit in the league to allow less than 200 goals last season. But the late onslaught may have had more to do with an offense that sold out its defense in an attempt to crawl back with a few big offensive rushes.
“When guys do a little too much to make things happen, it’s necessarily the best way to go about it but it shows guys care,” Bruins forward Shawn Thornton said. “We were taking some chances, when you’re down by a couple and don’t bury those chances those go the other way.”
Ducks right winger Evgeny Artyukhin also got in on the action. After blowing past the defensive zone, he took a trail of three Bruins to the net to witness Anaheim’s fourth goal.
“That’s not our team,” veteran center Marc Savard said. “Everyone knows our team. When we get down, we keep fighting.”
After right winger Bobby Ryan redirected Niedermayer’s drive for the fifth goal, Corey Perry skated through everyone for the sixth, an attempt that served as a microcosm for the night.
Perry’s first chance was turned away. But the rebound glanced off his helmet and went it.
“We’ve got grit and leaders. Nobody wants to lose, everybody wants to win,” Wheeler said. “But we just didn’t do it today.”
By Jake Seiner, Daily Free Press Staff
At the end of the first period of Thursday’s game against the Anaheim Ducks, it looked like the Boston Bruins might ease their way into a second-consecutive blowout win. In the process, they were likely to bury any lingering worries about a lackluster 4-1 loss in the season opener a week ago against the Washington Capitals.
On the heels of a 7-2 trouncing of the Carolina Hurricanes Saturday night, the Bruins outshot the Ducks, 19-11, in the first period Thursday. Boston drove to the net seemingly at will, leaving only Anaheim goaltender Joseph Hiller and a handful of misplayed opportunities around the net to keep the Bruins from blowing yet another game wide open.
Instead, the Bruins granted the Ducks one key opportunity, and similar to a week ago, the team came unraveled.
The Ducks didn’t waste the opportunity, as veteran Teemu Selanne knotted two goals in a 1:23 span when defenseman Matt Hunwick and winger Marco Sturm were each stuck in the sin bin just 52 seconds apart.
Four Anaheim goals and two periods of uninspired hockey later, the Bruins, coming off an Eastern Conference best 53-19-10 (116 points) season, were left humbled and in need of long look in the mirror.
“I think it’s something that needs to be addressed –– no doubt about that,” Bruins coach Claude Julien said about the team’s inconsistent play through three games. “Both games [against Washington and Anaheim] have been a result of not being able to handle a little bit of adversity well.”
The inability of the Bruins to respond to Selanne’s second-period goals was reminiscent to the lack of an answer to Brooks Laich’s first-period goal in last Thursday’s loss to the Capitals.
“Until Washington scored, we played well,” Julien said. “[Tonight,] we’re up one-nothing and they score a couple goals on a couple power plays, and instead of getting back and working on getting the next goal, we lost track of what we had to do out there, and they just kind of took the game over at that point.”
Much of the inconsistency, according to Julien, comes directly from a lack of effort.
“I thought we could have brought our game up another notch, and that’s what we needed to do in the second period,” Julien said. “But it’s hard to bring that when, again, the effort just wasn’t good enough tonight from most of our guys.”
One of the backbones of the Bruins during their 53-win campaign in 2008-09 was their physicality and hustle along the boards. Through three games, that same intensity has yet to come through on a consistent basis.
“They out-skated us and out-worked us,” captain Zdeno Chara said. “For sure we need to find out our niche and consistency and our 60-minute game. We can’t just be focused on our first 20 [minutes].”
“You’ve got to play for each other,” Julien said. “You can’t play for yourself. That means short shifts, that means good effort and that means doing what we did the other night against Carolina. You stick up for each other, you play for each other and you get the results.”
By Scott McLaughlin, DFP Staff
Entering the 2009-2010 season with greater expectations than they’ve had in years, the Boston Bruins responded with an exceptionally lackluster performance in a 4-1 loss to the Washington Capitals on opening night.
The Bruins controlled the flow of the game for the first half of the first period, but that’s where the list of positives comes to an end. For the next 50 minutes, the Capitals dominated both even-strength and special-teams play. Washington outshot Boston, 34-20, and went 2-for-4 on the power play while shutting down all five of the Bruins’ man-up chances.
“I think maybe the first 10 minutes or so, we played decent hockey,” defenseman Andrew Ference said. “But our emotional level was far below where it should be, obviously. It was disappointing. It was an overwhelmingly flat feeling, which isn’t what it should be on opening night.”
That flat feeling culminated with a too many men on the ice penalty at the 17-minute mark of the first that led to a Brooks Laich (2 goals, 1 assist) power-play goal just 15 seconds later. Boston was trying to get a tired line off the ice after an icing when defenseman Dennis Wideman slid a pass toward his own bench. Mark Recchi came off the bench and corralled the pass, but the player he was replacing had yet to come off.
Just seconds after the ensuing faceoff, megastar Alexander Ovechkin (2 goals, 1 assist) teed up a shot from the right circle. The shot actually misfired, but ended up on Laich’s blade just to the left of the crease, where he promptly deposited it past a sprawling Tim Thomas (30 saves).
“When you play teams like Washington, they’re a very good team and they take advantage of those kinds of little mistakes,” Bruins coach Claude Julien said of the too many men penalty. “Those things come back to haunt you. Right there and then, that kind of changed the momentum a little bit. We started playing on our heels.”
Ovechkin upped the lead to 2-0 9:31 into the second frame when he came off the bench unmarked, took a pass at the Boston blue line, moved in still unmarked and fired a snap shot between Thomas’ pads. The Capitals put the game out of reach when Laich and Ovechkin added their second goals of the game within the first two minutes of the third.
“If you look at the two Ovechkin goals, we gave him so much room entering the zone,” Ference said. “That’s gonna be lethal.”
Meanwhile, the Bruins had the power-play chances to keep the game close, but failed to do anything more than get set up and make some short passes along the wall. When they did throw pucks toward the net, they rarely got through as Washington blocked 13 shots on the night.
“They had some good blocks,” forward Patrice Bergeron said. “Their forwards, even their D, block a lot of shots. We have to make sure we get those through. If the puck doesn’t get to the net, it’s gonna be hard to score. Obviously, we have to make sure we have more traffic, but also get the shots on net.”
Already trailing 4-0, Bergeron was finally able to give the Boston faithful something to cheer about when he broke up Jose Theodore’s (19 saves) shutout bid at the 7:56 mark of the final stanza. After a Capital defender misplayed a puck at the Boston blue line, Bergeron found himself with nothing but open ice in front of him from center ice on.
He stormed down the left wing before putting on the brakes at the top of the crease and sliding a backhander past Theodore’s right skate. But like a log thrown on a dying fire, that goal did nothing more than create a small spark that quickly vanished into the air.
“This will not be the team you’re gonna see night after night this year,” Julien said. “That much I can guarantee you.”