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Bruins Come Up Short Again in Shootout Loss to Nashville

by Caryn Switaj / Boston Bruins

NASHVILLE - Tuesday night in Nashville ended on the same note for the Bruins - just a touch short of pulling out the extra point, as they fell 3-2 in a shootout to the Predators.

The Bruins' last three games have been one-goal games. They've earned a point in their past two, but still sit out of a playoff spot with eight losses in their last 10.

This game could serve as something for the Black and Gold to build on, as they continue their three game road trip with a quick turnaround against the Minnesota Wild in St. Paul on Wednesday night.

But losing doesn't feel any better, even if the effort earns a point.

"It's constantly the same thing," said Reilly Smith, who tied the game at 2-2 in the third period with his eighth of the season. "It seems like we're getting there, we're getting close, we're playing hard, we're battling till the end, but we're coming up short in a lot of these games where we need to get some extra points just to give us a little more hope in the standings."

"So this is an important road trip for us and it would have been really nice to get that extra point."

Milan Lucic gave the Bruins a 1-0 lead at 4:04 into the second period, after the puck was rotated down low and jamming in front led to second and third opportunities. Lucic punched it past the air-tight Pekka Rinne on the third attempt for his sixth of the season.

Nashville responded well, and Rinne continued to come up with huge stops, proving his status as the League's leading goaltender across the stats board. He kept it a one-goal game, stopping Gregory Campbell point blank of a centering feed from Lucic at the midpoint of the second.

The Bruins looked poised to bring their 1-0 lead into the third, but Lucic was whistled for a hooking call in the offensive zone with 1:01 on the clock as he chased down Preds' defenseman Seth Jones.

"Just two hands on the stick and kind of got caught up with the D-man there and it's just unfortunate that I took a penalty like that and they ended up scoring on it, especially with 30 seconds left in the period," Lucic said. "Those are the times when you don't want to give up goals, especially with one minute left, you don't want to be taking penalties and over my career, I've been pretty good not taking penalties with my stick and unfortunately [I] take one and it cost us."

Nashville converted on the power play, tying the game at 1-1 with 29.2 on the clock when a drive from Shea Weber was deflected in by Mike Fisher. Dougie Hamilton had nearly cleared the puck out of the blue paint when it squeaked past Rask. It was Nashville's first power play goal at Bridgestone Arena since their season opener.

At 1:31 into the third, the Predators took their first lead of the night. A battle along the boards left Chara down and out, as Mike Ribeiro found himself all alone in the right circle to rip a touch pass from Neal past Rask.

"We played a pretty good game today. That second goal was a little mistake in our own end - we're used to seeing that, but that was pretty much the only one," said Tuukka Rask, who stopped 38 of 40 shots. Only Derek Roy made it past him in the shootout, slowing up and briefly losing the puck before slipping the eventual winner past Rask.

"We battled, we battled for the loose pucks and we were pretty tight in our own end, and you know, it was a good road game," the goalie said. "But, same old story, just fell short for one goal."

The Bruins didn't get fragile when they fell down by a goal.

Just 1:57 after Nashville went ahead, Smith responded to tie the game at 2-2. After a soft chip up the boards from Patrice Bergeron, Brad Marchand went on the move, passing to Smith and driving the net. The Preds' defenseman closed off Marchand as an option, so Smith took it hard to the net, got Rinne to bite and slipped it past him.

"Again, you look at the opportunities we had and the game we played. I don't think there's anything to be disappointed at, it's just right now, we're talking about a little fraction here, a little fraction there that's going to make the difference in losing that point or winning that point," Julien said.

"You know, we're getting close it and hopefully we continue with those kind of games tomorrow and get ourselves better here on this road trip and again, have a real good chance of having a successful road trip, depending especially on [Wednesday's game in Minnesota]."

In 12 of their past 15 games, the Bruins have scored two or fewer goals. Their net-front presence was there in Nashville, but they're still not getting over the scoring hump and Rinne isn't necessarily the ideal goalie to go up against when that's the case.

"Obviously he's a real big goaltender, he takes up a lot of the net and he's really hard to beat clean," said Lucic, who had two prime chances off turnovers in addition to his goal. One of his attempts couldn't get through Rinne's five-hole, while the other hit Rinne's mask.

"He's been their best player so far this year is what I've been told and it showed," Julien said of Rinne.

"So it's just that kind of year, things aren't coming easy for us," Lucic added. "We have to find a way to get some wins here, just cause you look at the standings, we're starting to get behind the eight ball."

"I think there's still another level to our game and we need to start bringing that little bit of extra that makes us a great team, and gives us wins."

The Bruins are starting to get healthy again, and that could be a boost. In his third game back, Zdeno Chara looked like himself, showing snarl around Rask's net and showing a commanding presence. David Krejci didn't play, but is expected to make his return soon.

"We're a team, we're not going to make any excuses," said Rask. "We're going to play with the guys we've got and we've done a pretty good job with it."

The Bruins will have to keep pushing as a team, and find a way to get that extra effort, and extra point against the Wild on Wednesday.

"You know, it takes one good game and a win to get back in that groove," Rask said. "When you're struggling, wins are tough to come by, and when you're not getting the bounces and you're having a tough time scoring, you really have to just grind it out and get that one, then keep that going in the right direction."

"It hasn't been an easy year at all, and we need to find ways to grind it out and start getting wins and start feeling good about ourselves and our game as individuals and as a team," said Lucic. "And once that happens, things will start going the way we want them to."

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