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Bruins' Progress Halted by Flames' Comeback in 4-3 OT Loss

by Caryn Switaj / Boston Bruins

CALGARY - The puck traveled off Flames defenseman T.J. Brodie's blade, glanced off the shaft of Brad Marchand's stick, popped up into the air, bounced off Tuukka Rask's glove as he stretched out and reached for it, pinged off the inside padding of the back red bar on top of the goal, and then ricocheted off of Rask's back, and in.

By the time the puck crossed the line, the clock read 2.4 left in overtime. There was not much more that could have been done.

"First one of those in my career," a stunned Rask said postgame from the Scotiabank Saddledome, after the Bruins dropped a 4-3 loss to Calgary in overtime.

Though they ended the night with a point, it marked their fourth straight loss, including two straight on the road to start their five-game trip.

"Well yeah, when you're kind of struggling with your game, that's when kind of the bounces don't go your way and it's happened to us before this season and we saw it again today, so that's about it," Rask continued.

The Bruins carried much of the play in overtime.

"Yeah we did, and we picked it up again," said Head Coach Claude Julien. "I thought we had control of the puck most of the time, but again, when you don't score, you don't win."

This one stung. Boston had started the game with a 3-0 lead, striking first after five straight games of allowing the first goal. It was the Bruins' first time playing with a lead in four games.

They managed the puck well in the first 20 minutes. They didn't self-inflict the damage that had been plaguing them.

At 6:48 into the first period, Brad Marchand put home a setup from Patrice Bergeron for a shorthanded tally to make it 1-0. Less than five minutes later, the Bruins had a 2-0 lead, when a blast from Zdeno Chara quickly jutted in and out of the goal with Chris Kelly screening in front. Dougie Hamilton had wheeled the puck around the net before feeding the Captain all alone up top.

Rask, making his 23rd appearance in the last 24 games, preserved the lead when the Flames created point-blank chances and havoc down low.

When the puck dropped on the second period, the Bruins wasted no time in carrying over their energy. Loui Eriksson had a bid 30 seconds in that was turned aside by Karri Ramo. Not long after, Torey Krug pounced on a loose puck after Reilly Smith fanned on a shot, and backhanded it in glove side just 50 seconds into the frame.

The tally chased Ramo from the net after he allowed three goals on 11 shots. Jonas Hiller replaced him between the pipes.

On his first shot against, Milan Lucic thought he had a goal after blasting one that hit the post behind Hiller. He even skated through the celebration line at the Bruins' bench. Video review confirmed that the puck never crossed the goal line.

"I think when they change goalies there, we hit the crossbar there that first shift and things kind of died down after that," said Krug. "So we've just got to make sure we stay on top of it. We want to be the same team, whether it's period to period, or game to game, and we kind of lost our game there for a little bit and a couple of unlucky bounces and we don't end up with that second point, so it's unfortunate, and we're not satisfied."

The Bruins' progress was well overshadowed by the Flames' comeback.

"We got exactly the start we wanted," said Krug. "We were pushing the pace, we were getting pucks in behind their defensemen and we had our skating legs going."

"It was a step in the right direction, but we've got to make sure we're closing out games better."

The Bruins started the second outshooting Flames 7-2, and holding their 3-0 lead, but they then strung together a few shifts where they had trouble getting out of their own end. At 6:52 into the period, David Jones got Calgary on the board. After gaining the angle on Hamilton, Jones eluded a Chara pokecheck and lobbed it over Rask.

The game started to shift. When Hamilton and Jiri Hudler were tangled behind the play and each sat for roughing, four-on-four hockey ensued. The Bruins couldn't generate much. They also couldn't take advantage of a four-minute power play to end the second after David Pastrnak was high-sticked by Johnny Gaudreau.

"sThat's part of our game that this year, lately I think it's been costing us games, and if we capitalize on an opportunity there, then we probably don't lose this game," said Krug. "It's tough to say now, because you obviously don't want to look back with any regrets, but our power play's been letting us down and you know, I'm part of that group, I've got to be better, and I know everyone else on the units takes responsibility as well."

"That four-on-four, we started turning pucks over and getting sloppy again," said Julien. "It doesn't take much for the other team to gain momentum and then we get a power play and same thing, extremely sloppy and totally out of sync and you give the other team some confidence and some momentum and then you're pedaling backwards there, so that was probably the thing that is disappointing."

Hudler reduced the Flames' deficit to 3-2 at just 3:22 into the third period, snapping it in from close range after a failed clearing attempt up the boards started the play.

"After the end of the second, through the third, we didn't play as well as we were earlier in the game and they just took it to us and eventually, it's not going to work, you've got to push back at some point," said Matt Bartkowski, who retuned to the lineup after being a healthy scratch for the previous 17 games. "And we didn't do that, and you see what the result was."

The no-quit Flames turned it on in the final frame, a time of the game where they have now outscored their opponents 72-38. Eriksson had a chance off a three-on-two rush, but Hiller kept it out.

With 5:03 remaining in the third, Hudler notched his second of the night on the power play to tie the game at 3-3, sending Pastrnak out of the box and back to the Bruins bench after a high-sticking penalty.

"We knew it was coming. We knew that we were in their building and they were going to come out flying and unfortunately, things just ended up in the back of our net that on regular nights probably don't," said Krug. "But we've got to be better than that. Nobody's accepting that in here. We understand that there's still points to be had on this road trip."

The Bruins essentially deployed four defensemen in the third period. Kevan Miller left the game in the second period with a postgame prognosis from Julien that "it doesn't look good" and Bartkowski was only seeing his first action since Dec. 31.

"When it's tight like that, we went with four Ds and our guys were tired and it showed - when you lose a guy like Miller at a crucial point in the game, it really puts your D on their heels," said Julien. "And at the same time, they started dumping pucks in. When when we went down to five [D], they started getting pucks in deep, making our Ds work a little harder and they tired them out."

"So those are situations that at one point, with eight minutes left, you go with pairs, guys that are playing together all the time, instead of mixing and matching."

The Bruins continue their five-game road trip against the Edmonton Oilers on Wednesday night, before finishing it off against St. Louis and Chicago. They're hoping the lack of luck from Monday night's game doesn't carry over.

"A little bit of bad luck there on [Rask's] part, with pucks going in behind him," Julien said.

"When things are tough, things are tough, and you don't get the breaks, so we've got to keep working ourselves out of this."

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