Prior to Tuesday’s game, many wondered how the Bruins would bounce back from the loss of Marc Savard — not only in terms of how they would fare without their leading playmaker, but also in terms of how they would rebound after watching their emotional leader get carted off the ice on a stretcher just two days earlier.
They came away with a point, but after taking the lead three times, the Bruins once again couldn’t hold on, dropping a 4-3 overtime contest against Toronto, the owner of the second-worst record in the league.
Mark Recchi led off the scoring at 2:47, but early in the second, Wayne Primeau tied things up, and the scoring went back and forth for the remainder of the game. Marco Sturm put Boston on top 2-1 less than three minutes after Primeau’s goal, but after a turnover in the neutral zone, a Carl Gunnarsson shot hit David Krejci‘s leg and deflected right through Tim Thomas‘ legs, tying the game at two with 1:22 left in the second. Early in the third, Patrice Bergeron lit the lamp, but Luca Caputi‘s backhander just over seven minutes into the third once again knotted the score.
Nikolai Kulemin took a perfect dish from Mikhail Grabovski with 50 seconds left in overtime for the game-winner.
Recchi finished with three points for Boston, registering two assists in addition to his goal.
Thomas, making his fourth straight start for Boston, finished with 26 saves on 30 shots, while Toronto’s Jonas Gustavsson stopped 26 of 29 shots.
Headliner: Mikhail Grabovski orchestrated the game-winning goal, gaining control of the puck in the neutral zone and taking it up the left side before dishing cross-ice to Nikolai Kulemin, who caught Tim Thomas out of position and scored with 50 seconds remaining in overtime. While every Maple Leafs goal scorer deserves credit for continuing to pressure the B’s after falling behind three times, it is Kulemin and Grabovski who deserve the most for finally putting Boston away.
Marco Sturm sealed his seventh career 20-goal season when he scored on a power play with about six minutes left in the second period. After Patrice Bergeron’s bid from the slot deflected off Gustavsson’s pad, the puck landed right outside the right post, where Sturm was waiting to drill it home. Not only did the goal represent a seemingly rare occasion in which the Bruins managed to capitalize on the man advantage, but it allowed the B’s to swiftly bounce back from Wayne Primeau’s game-tying tally just three minutes earlier.
Grinder: The Bruins went into the first intermission with a lead thanks to some brilliant penalty killing, of which there was a lot on the night. Toronto’s power play got three chances to tie the game in the first period after Blake Wheeler (hooking), Mark Stuart (tripping) and Milan Lucic (hooking) went into the box, but Boston’s PK kept the Leafs off the board. It left the Bruins in the exact position they needed to be in facing a divisional opponent on the road.
The first period was a strong one for Boston all around; the B’s outshot the Leafs 10-5, and Boston’s blue line allowed Toronto just one shot at full strength.
Weak Link: The Bruins allowed the Leafs to come from behind to tie the game three times, and the third — when Luca Caputi’s backhander eluded Tim Thomas 7:13 into the final frame — Dennis Wideman and Mark Stuart failed to do anything productive to protect their goaltender. They crowded the net but were unable to get a handle on the puck, instead clearing the left side of the crease for a wide-open Caputi.
It seems like getting a win lately means goaltenders have to play perfectly, and seeing as that’s not incredibly realistic, a little support from the blue line would be helpful.
Key Moment: With Marc Savard likely out of commission for a long time, there is
a dire need for Boston’s veterans to step up in the scoring department
— something Mark Recchi is well aware of. Recchi tallied his 13th goal
of the season just 2:47 into the first period after Patrice Bergeron
won a faceoff in the offensive zone and dished to Sturm in the
slot. Sturm fired on net and Recchi pounded the rebound past Jonas
Gustavsson, sending Boston into the intermission with a lead on the road, the importance of which can never be understated.
Boston has struggled on offense all season and
desperately needs someone to come up big as the playoffs loom, and
while very few are expecting that person to be Mark Recchi, he played
the part well on Tuesday.
Up Next: The Bruins travel to Philadelphia on Thursday for stop No. 4 on this seven-game road trip. The Flyers are currently in third place in the Atlantic Division standings and, prior to Tuesday’s games, won six of their last eight. Center Jeff Carter leads the team in points (56) and goals (30), while Chris Pronger leads the way for the Flyers with 39 assists.
This is the fourth meeting of the season between the two teams. The last time they met, you may remember, was at Fenway Park on New Year’s Day, when Boston got a Mark Recchi goal in the waning minutes of regulation before Marco Sturm tallied the game-winner in overtime.
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