The Boston Bruins suffered another setback in their quest for a postseason berth, this time to the Minnesota Wild, 2-1, Thursday night in the TD Banknorth Garden. Boston's Brandon Bochenski scored his 11th goal of the season in the loss.
"We had some great (scoring) opportunities that missed the net," said Bruins head coach Dave Lewis. "We can't 'fine tune' (our shots). We have to get the goalie to make a save.
"And that's from trying to hard."
You can't blame the Bruins for pressing. Every remaining contest on their schedule is a "big game."
On this night, the Wild had traveled to Boston with a record of 36-24-7 and hoped to solidify their eighth place standing in the Western Conference in a rare visit to Massachusetts.
Their opponents, the homestanding Boston Bruins, came in at 32-29-5 and four points out of the eighth and final Eastern Conference playoff spot. But having already lost veteran sniper Glen Murray to a lower body injury for an indefinite period, before the game, the Black & Gold learned that they would be without defensive specialist P.J. Axelsson for three to four weeks with a wrist injury.
Perhaps due to the new faces and placements in the Boston lineup, and the unfamiliarity between the teams, both clubs were a little tentative in their first meeting in the TD Banknorth Garden since March 18, 2004.
As such, there was no scoring and there were only three penalties handed out in the first period. But, per usual in the new era NHL, the goalies were busy and Minnesota's Niklas Backstrom made 12 saves in the first, while Boston's Tim Thomas
To the chagrin of the home fans, the Minnesota Wild took control of the game in the second period. Brian Rolston
scored his 27th goal of the season at 3:59, with an assist going to Pierre-Marc Bouchard. Bouchard then scored his 18th of the year at 13:00 to put the Wild up 2-0 going into the second break.
"(Rolston) made a really good shot, high glove," said Thomas, who tipped his cap to the forward, and seemed as if he wanted the goal back. "He had his head buried (and) I didn't think he'd be able to pick a corner, like that. I thought he was just going to try and rifle it somewhere because he never looked up to see where the net was.
"And on the second goal…he was able to cut so far over on the blocker side that I had to open up to move a little bit to move over to take (that side of the) net back over when he goes that way. And he put it in a pretty good spot -- five hole."
Backstrom, Minnesota's goalie, continued to stymie the Bruins despite their being able to pour another dozen shots on the Wild goal in the period. Minnesota threw 15 shots at Thomas in the stanza.
Brandon Bochenski tipped a shot from Dennis Wideman and scored a late goal for the Bruins to make the score 2-1 at 18:24.
"(Bergeron) had a great battle on the wall…and made a great play," said Wideman of the genesis of the play. "He backhanded it out to me and I just threw it at the net."
"The puck wasn't moving too quick so I tried to get a deflection on it," said Bochenski of Wideman's shot. "I tipped it down as it was going high."
The late Boston surge was unable to overtake the Wild, however, as Backstrom finished with 29 saves and Minnesota held on for the win.
"We were really applying pressure there in the third," said Thomas, who finished the game with 30 saves. "We had some bounces go our way…we did the right things to give ourselves…a chance."
Lewis insisted that his squad would not throw in the towel.
"I am going to use a Winston Churchill phrase, 'Never surrender.' That's how we have to play. That's what I told the guys at the end of the game."