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Wednesday, December 31, 2014

B's End 2014 in Disappointing Fashion: Rallying From 2 Goals Down Then Losing in a Shootout

By virtue of their frustrating 4-3 shootout loss tonight at TD Garden vs. Toronto (21-14-3), Boston (19-15-4) made sure that December of 2014 was their first losing month (5-6-3) since February 2012 (5-7-1). There is plenty to say about this one since Boston trailed 3-1 in the second period but rallied in the same frame to tie it then dominated the third and overtime yet still fell short.

This game meant extra since a win would have tied the Bruins up with the Maple Leafs in the standings, instead Toronto is now three points ahead and comfortably in the playoff picture (6th in the Eastern Conference) while Boston sits one point behind Washington for the last spot. Yes, just over half of the regular season remains but the more that time goes by, the harder it is for the B's to make up any ground on all these other clubs in the Northeast Division let alone the East.

Getting out to better starts and having more consistency for the entire game are two general areas that are killing the Bruins. Toronto jumped ahead 1-0 at 10:22 of the first period when Leo Komarov scored on a one-timer from the slot (his 5th goal of the season), assisted by Peter Holland who was behind the net. Phil Kessel drew an ultra-rare penalty shot but Tuukka Rask (18 saves) was able to stop it late in the first period. Kessel is now 1 for 3 in his career on penalty shots while Rask has stopped 4 of 6.

If you were in line getting a beer (it is New Year's Eve after all) or at the bathroom, you probably missed two goals that occurred before the first minute had passed in the second period. Carl Soderberg deflected in Reilly Smith's shot from the point 17 seconds in (his 8th goal of the season), a power play goal that tied it at one. Former UNH star James van Riemsdyk put Toronto in front again 31 seconds later as he finished off a lethal 2-on-1 with Phil Kessel for his 17th goal of the season.

Kessel's power play goal, his team-leading 18th of the season, gave the Leafs a 3-1 lead but this being Toronto, they couldn't handle a lead in Boston (sound familiar?). Jonathan Bernier (25 saves) played the role of James Reimer for the duration of the second as he let in a bizarre pair of goals. That's right, the Bruins got not one but two breaks that led to goals (when has that ever happened this season for them?). David Krejci's shot deflected in off Cody Franson for his fifth goal of the season at 15:28 than 2:03 after that, Torey Krug's centering pass (intended for Krejci) went off Komarov's skate by Bernier for his seventh goal of the season.

Boston outshot Toronto 9-2 in the third and 4-0 in overtime but they couldn't find the game-winner. Mike Santorelli scored in the first round of the shootout, Krug answered in the second then it took Nazem Kadri's goal in the fifth round to end it and send fans on their drunken but merry way. Hey, they cut down on my drinking time!

The Bruins end this huge three-game homestand on Saturday afternoon (1, NESN) vs. the Senators (15-14-7) who are in much worse shape than them. Needless to say, Boston has to get two points from that contest, no matter how they obtain them.

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