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Tuesday, February 10, 2015

A 5-3 Loss to the Stars Is Not How You Want to End a Homestand

It has not been a fun couple days for the Bruins after they lost 3-1 to the Canadiens on Sunday night then followed that up with a lackluster 5-3 defeat vs. the Stars tonight at TD Garden. Boston (28-19-7) has lost three of its last four games overall, which is not the feeling you want in your stomach as you head out on a five-game/two-week long road trip to Western Canada and the Midwest in the dead of winter.

The B's were the only team that hadn't allowed a shorthanded goal all season so naturally they gave up not one but two against the Stars (25-21-8). That is impossible to overcome, especially when your best players like Patrice Bergeron (-4) and Zdeno Chara (-3) both play as bad as they ever do and backup goaltender Niklas Svedberg (7 saves, 3 goals allowed) gets pulled after one ineffective period of action.

Things got off to a weird start as Antoine Roussel was called for a cross-checking major and game misconduct only 3:43 into the game after he checked Adam McQuaid in the throat. He has a phone hearing with the NHL on Thursday for that bush league move. Boston couldn't get anything going on the power play all night (0-for-4, 9:00) and Vernon Fiddler took advantage of a bad turnover to score on a shorthanded breakaway at 7:28. The unassisted goal was his seventh of the season.

David Krejci tied it 3:15 after that with an easy tap-in from David Pastrnak and Milan Lucic. It was Krejci's seventh goal of the season. The rest of the first period was The Jamie Benn Show as he blew by Boston's soft defense and roofed one past Svedberg from a tough angle at 14:38 then put in a rebound at 17:53 following a shot that might have gone off Ben Eaves' dong and to Benn. That gave Jamie Benn 18 goals on the season and a 3-1 lead.

Tuukka Rask (20 saves) came in to start the second period and it seemed to help as Bergeron scored on a shorthanded breakaway of his own 26 seconds into the frame. His team-leading 15th goal of the season (tied with Brad Marchand) was also assisted by Marchand. Dallas' defense is atrocious and Kari Lehtonen (41 saves) isn't great either so when Dougie Hamilton tied it at three at 6:42, you figured the Bruins would rally for a win. No problem, right? Hamilton's goal was his ninth of the season, assisted by Chris Kelly and Torey Krug.

Things just didn't shake out as we expected since Trevor Daley's shorthanded goal at 13:42, where he had the speed to get behind Boston's defense and knock in his own rebound, turned out to be the game-winning goal. It was the defenseman's 14th goal of the season and it was unassisted. There was plenty of time left but the Bruins could never find another equalizer.

Hamilton earned a four-minute major for high sticking on Ryan Garbutt (when Daley scored) after he drew blood but the B's power play couldn't sustain any pressure or generate many scoring threats. The third period was more of the same as Boston wasted a tripping call on Jason Spezza. Erik Cole ended it with a bizarre empty-net goal that looked to be headed nowhere near the goal only to curve right in. That summed up the night for both clubs.

The Bruins' next game is on Friday (10, NESN) in Vancouver (29-20-3). That is a winnable game since the Canucks have been scuffling lately as well (5-5-0 in their last 10 games). Monday (9, NESN) in Calgary (30-21-3) will be sneaky tough because they are one of the surprise teams in the league while Edmonton (15-31-9) on Wednesday (10, NESN) is the lone layup and must-win. Boston ends the trip it with the two most difficult games: at St. Louis (35-15-4) on Friday (8, NESN) and in Chicago (33-18-3) on Sunday (3, NBC). Boston won't be home again until two weeks from now vs. Vancouver. By that point, the trade deadline will be less than a week away (March 2). Gulp.

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