All the Bruins streaks are over. No more winning streak, no more point streak, and for Tim Thomas who went 10-0-0 for over a month, his winning streak met its end tonight after the Panthers took a 2-0 win, with less than three minutes to go in the game.
After both teams played back and forth hockey for close to the entire game, a misplay by Bruins forward Milan Lucic led to a turnover and Florida was able to break into the Bruins zone. Shawn Mattias got a shot off on Tim Thomas who made the initial save, but let out a heck of a rebound. No one from the Black and Gold could clear it out from in front of the net, and Tomas Kopecky took hold and fired it through, tripping over Thomas along the way.
"I was going to shoot it and I fumbled it and then they poked it and went down the other end," Lucic said. "For our line we created so much and one little mistake, one poke goes the other way and they were able to jump on a loose puck in front and sometimes that’s the way it goes."
That happened with just 2:32 left in the third period.
The Bruins have only scored once in their last two games after outscoring their opponents 59-25 in the month of November. Though the first line has picked it up in the last couple of games, they have still been under the microscope when it comes to overall production.
"Yeah, the last two, we’ve done a pretty good job getting shots and scoring chances. But that’s all they are if you don’t get results," Lucic said. "I think the main thing right now for us is we can’t get down on ourselves, we can’t get frustrated, we have to pick ourselves back up and start over again, and remember what got us those fourteen wins in fifteen games. That’s what should be our focus right now and not let frustration creep into our game just because we’ve had trouble these last two games."
Kris Versteeg scored an empty net goal with 42 seconds left to seal the deal for the Panthers. With Philadelphia dropping the Penguins tonight, the Flyers now have taken hold of first place in the Conference followed by the Panthers. Bruins fall to third and Pittsburgh now sits in fourth.
This is the first time since October 27-29 that the Bruins have lost in back-to-back games. The last time was a home-and-home series with Montreal, but these losses certainly pack quite the punch as well-especially with the opportunities the Bruins seemed to be getting.
Five times during the game the Bruins found a way through Florida goaltender Jose Theodore, but it couldn't get past the piping. While the crowd was getting frustrated, captain Zdeno Chara made sure to note that they just have to try harder to finish.
"Sometimes you won’t get those breaks maybe we were getting earlier or in that winning streak," Chara said. "And now it seems like we are missing a little bit of the luck we had early on. When you hit four or five posts in the game it means, yeah it’s close, but you aren’t going to win a hockey game if they don’t go in."
The Bruins did however get some of their physical play back. Both Shawn Thornton and Johnny Boychuk dropped the gloves during the game, in order to stand up for themselves or their teammates. Thornton went just 2:17 into the game after Krystofer Barch slammed Daniel Paille into the boards. Paille was slow to get up, and in fact did not return for the rest of the game. Head coach Claude Julien said there was no "concrete update" on Paille, but the doctors said it would be safer not to let him return for the rest of the game. Paille was only on the ice for 45 seconds.
The Bruins will return to action on Saturday, traveling to Columbus to take on the Blue Jackets.
"This is just one game. We flew back from Winnipeg, does that have anything to do with it? I mean, we came out from out West?" Julien asked. "I don’t know, but we certainly don’t think we’re heading in that direction, more that we have to, probably next game, make it a situation where we have to play a real strong, solid game and get that good feeling back in our dressing room."