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Tuesday, April 5, 2016

In Essentially a Must-Win Scenario, the Bruins Fall 2-1 in a Shootout to the Hurricanes

With the 2015-16 regular season boiled down to three final home games that will ultimately decide their playoff fate (in or out), Boston (41-30-9) fittingly didn't get the job done on step one but they left themselves a bit of hope as they lost 2-1 to Carolina (35-29-16) in a shootout this evening at TD Garden. The fraudulent point "earned" by the B's ties them with Detroit (40-28-11) and Philadelphia (39-26-13). The problem is that the Red Wings have two games in hand and the Flyers have a game in hand on the Black and Gold. As luck would have it, Detroit hosts Philly tomorrow night (8, NBC Sports Network) as well.

Boston hadn't appeared on their home ice in nearly two weeks but somehow they still were the same group that simply hasn't been able to win here all season-long. Hurricanes defenseman Jaccob Slavin made it 1-0 at 18:54 in the first period when his shot from the point beat Tuukka Rask (27 saves). He wasn't screened and the shot wasn't tipped so that's a shot that Rask needs to stop 10 times out of 10. Justin Faulk and BC's Nathan Gerbe assisted on Slavin's second goal of the season (his first since Dec. 8, 2015). The Bruins outshot the Hurricanes 10-8 in the first and had two fruitless power plays. The highlight if you can call it that was a fight between Jimmy Hayes and Brad Malone early in the frame.

The Bruins dominated some more in the second (outshooting the Hurricanes 16-9) but three penalties (including 2 on Loui Eriksson) slowed them down a bit and they still lacked that finishing ability that has eluded them so much lately (other than the first 2 periods in St. Louis and last 2 periods in Chicago). Carolina gift-wrapped a goal to Boston as possibly the worst line change in NHL history led to a breakaway and sweet Peter Forsberg-esque move by Eriksson. Former Hurricane John-Michael Liles assisted on Eriksson's 29th goal of the season at 1:45 of the third period. Zdeno Chara saved the day when he cleared a Brett Pesce shot that trickled by Rask off the goalline.

Carolina had beaten Boston 3-2 in overtime at the Garden on March 10 but this time the B's carried play in the extra session. They outshot the Canes 3-1 but Cam Ward (35 saves) took a trip back in a time machine to about a decade ago and he was really good. He even made a nice diving glove save on Eriksson's rebound. After four scoreless rounds in the shootout, Torey Krug was stuffed and another BC guy (Norwood, MA native) Noah Hanifin ended it with a backhander past Rask. Don't ask me how Brad Marchand, David Krejci or Frank Vatrano weren't any of the five shooters selected by Bruins head coach Claude Julien.

The Bruins will no doubt be paying attention to the Red Wings-Flyers tilt tomorrow night before they host Detroit on Thursday (7, NESN). They'll be rooting for Philadelphia to win in regulation against the Red Wings and I'm pretty sure the B's will reach the postseason if they can beat Detroit and then Ottawa (36-35-9) on Saturday (12:30, NESN). However, as we've learned over and over again with this team, you can't count on any consistently positive results at home.

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