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  • What we learned: Gimme game goes awry in OT loss to ‘Canes

    Post Game

    What we learned: Gimme game goes awry in OT loss to ‘Canes

    Bob Snow March 11, 2016

    Maybe three.

    That would be the number of games since the Winter Classic that Boston had some form of 60 minutes that kept the fans off the edge of their seats and Claude Julien off the backs of his charges. Gimme games and control from start to finish have not been a staple for this year’s Black and Gold.

    The 6-2 blowout at Winnipeg on February 11 qualifies. The 5-1 Wednesday Night Rivalry defeat of the Penguins on February 24 maybe falls into the category. But the 4-1 win over the Carolina Hurricanes the following night certainly fits that bill. Likely the best example of the season of the Bruins controlling 60 minutes of play.

    So, here we are with Game No. 69 of the season Thursday night at TD Garden — and those same Hurricanes trudge into town without two of their former top players in captain Eric Staal and John-Michael Liles. Both shipped off before the trade deadline to free up some $7.5 million off the team’s salary cap, Staal to the Rangers and Liles to Boston.

    Still, at 71 points and four off the pace for the eighth wild-card slot, the ‘Canes are not here to sample the waterfront cuisine.

    “So we’re always expecting a real tough challenge and that’s not going to change,” Claude Julien said after morning skate about Carolina. “And I’m not just standing here saying that, that really is the feeling that we have in our room. It’s going to be more about can we go out there and respect this team to the point where we’re going to play the same way we did in our last game.”

    That would be the 1-0 overtime thriller in Tampa Bay Tuesday night that put Boston in a tie for first place in the Atlantic Division.

    The big subplot Thursday night? It’s March 10 — and the Bruins have been below .500 at home since their opening night loss to Winnipeg way back on October 8th. At 15-16-5, the night was ripe for a repeat performance against Carolina.

    Not to be. After taking seven of eight points against some of the NHL’s best the past week, the Black and Gold coughed up a 3-2 OT loss. Here’s what we learned.

    BC alums play pivotal role in all three goals


    Former Boston College standout Noah Hanifin tallied two assists, including one on the Hurricanes’ OT winner. (Photo by Joe Makarski, Bruins Daily)

    Former Boston College star Noah Hanifin, the No. 5 overall pick in last June’s Entry Draft took only 4:06 to get his name announced when he assisted on Elias Lindholm’s power-play goal with three ticks left on Patrice Bergeron’s high-sticking call.

    At 8:34 of the second period, Nathan Gerbe, a key player in the Eagles’ 2008 championship game victory and Hobey Baker Finalist that year, set up shop with Chris Terry on Rask’s doorstep with Gerbe poking it by for the 2-1 lead.

    Then with barely a minute gone in OT, Hanifin made a nifty pass back to his goaltender that led to the winning goal when Boston got caught on the change — and Phillip DiGiuseppe and Jeff Skinner went in alone on Rask for the win at 1:30.

    “I mean it was a bad – tough read on my part,” Patrice Bergeron said of the gaffe. “I guess one minute we had the puck, and their guy went for a change, I tried to go at the same time as him, to hurry and got caught in between.”

    Power outage ends


    Torey Krug tallied an assist on Loui Eriksson’s power play goal in the second period. (Photo by Joe Makarski, Bruins Daily)

    The Bruins had gone four periods without a power play opportunity until 37 seconds into the second period that went for naught.

    But at 4:40, the second PP took only seven seconds for Bergeron to send a cross-ice pass from faceoff circle to faceoff circle to Loui Eriksson, who whistled a 20-foot wrist shot past Ward to tie the game at 1-1. It was Bergeron’s eighth point in his last five consecutive games.

    David Pastrnak jumped on an errant Carolina pass and swooped in solo on Cam Ward before sending a short-angle left wing shot to payday and a 2-2 game at 5:54 of the final period. David Krejci assisting. It was Pastrnak’s 10th as he digs his way out of Julien’s doghouse for his erratic play the past several games.

    “Well whoever would have made that play, it would’ve been a big play at that point,” Julien said keeping his young winger’s ego in check. “So, nice to see him score that goal, he picked a corner there with the goaltender [Cam Ward] maybe cheating for the pass.”

    OT, OT, OT, OT


    Tuukka Rask and the rest of the Bruins played in their fourth straight overtime game. (Photo by Joe Makarski, Bruins Daily)

    “I’ve had it with these three-on-three overtimes,” an exasperated Tuukka Rask said. “It’s just scoring chance after scoring chance, but you just try to win the games right? I mean I was hoping that [we] would score a quick goal like last game, but it didn’t happen.”

    It marked the fourth straight overtime game for Boston and their 12th of the season. After losing to Washington, they beat Florida and Tampa Bay.

    “We have to find a way to take care of business,” said Bergeron, “especially in regulation.”

    “I brought it back with Cam [Ward],” an elated Hanifin said, “and I was hoping that they would change and that they were, and that opened up Jeff there.

    “It was my first game here in the NHL and just to be able to get out there and get a win in front of all my family and friends, it was definitely a really cool experience.”

    Sole possession of first place


    For the first time in 2015-16, Bruins captain Zdeno Chara and company sit in first place in the Atlantic Division. (Photo by Joe Makarski, Bruins Daily)

    For the time being, the Bruins are all alone atop the Atlantic.

    “For a while throughout the season, it was two steps forward, one step back,” Torey Krug assessed. “Right not we’re trying to make sure we can grow up and go on from that. That was a test tonight and we weren’t able to pass it, but the good thing about it is we have another game on Saturday.”

    “Let’s chalk it up as a tough loss, but a good point, and let’s move on here and prepare for Saturday,” Julien said. “So, if I was a betting man, I think our team’s going to be much better on Saturday.”

    Last bet before the team hits the road to the NHL’s Bermuda Triangle of San Jose, Anaheim and Los Angeles with 13 to go.

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