The best two teams in terms of total points met at TD Banknorth Garden Feb. 10.
Unfortunately for the Boston Bruins, they were only able to live up to the hype of the evening for two periods. The Sharks scored four times in the third period to beat Boston, 5-2 — a game that goes down as the Bruins’ fifth-worst loss of the regular season.
The Bruins were coming off a disappointing overtime loss to Philadelphia just three days earlier. But that defeat meant nothing during the three days of hype leading up to the arrival of former Bruins captain Joe Thornton and his new team for just the second time since his trade to San Jose in November 2005. The battle of the league’s top two teams even had the casual hockey media out in full force.
Just 3:58 into the game, the Bruins looked like they were up to the task. Milan Lucic scored from right in front of Evgeni Nabokov off a feed by Marc Savard. Veteran Rob Blake responded with a twice-deflected power-play tally at 7:18 before Lucic scored his second of the night on a rebound of a Petteri Nokelainen shot.
Late in the first period, Blake high sticked Nokelainen in the face — causing Nokelainen to leave the lineup for not just the rest of the game but for the next several weeks. He never played for the Bruins again before he was traded to Anaheim.
Boston maintained it’s one-goal advantage during a second period that featured the Sharks outshooting the Bruins, 13-10. But Patrick Marleau, who totaled three points on the night, started the third-period scoring 3:32 into the last stanza to tie the score. Milan Michalek gave the Sharks the lead at 7:28 and Thornton’s goal off his foot provided some insurance. Mike Grier added the empty-netter.
The Sharks went on to win the Presidents’ Trophy. The loss was the Bruins’ first of the season by three or more goals and the first after they led after the first 40 minutes. Boston’s losing streak reached four and six out of seven before a two-game winning streak in the latter part of the month.