Thanks to some timely goaltending by Tuukka Rask and the NHL’s ongoing decision to decide tie games after 65 minutes of hockey with a skills competition, the Bruins were able to at least salvage a tie during their two-game, two-day visit to Florida.
Coming off their shootout triumph over the Panthers last night, however, the Bruins were outplayed at the key moments tonight in Tampa an fell to the Lightning, 5-3, at the Tampa Bay Times Forum.
Nathan Horton’s two goals were wasted and Daniel Paille’s beautiful roofed-backhand shorthanded goal was relegated to just a footnote by a dismal team effort when it came time to take care of the puck and pick up players on the rush. While Rask was able to thwart some unbelievable breakaways against the Panthers, Tim Thomas was a little off his game against the Lightning.
But Thomas, who has lost back-to-back starts for the first time since October, was pretty down the list of players to blame for the Tampa Bay debacle. You can start the list with Joe Corvo, whose stats line epitomized what’s ailing the Bruins lately. On the ice for just 12:39, Corvo managed to post a minus-1 rating and fire just one shot on goal. His giveaway led directly to one goal and his decision to leave the front of the net unguarded so he could pursue a loose puck contributed to another Lightning score. This comes after he logged the fewest minutes among Bruins’ defensemen in Sunrise and was minus-2. It would benefit the Bruins if the blueliner’s nightly tribute to Tomas Kaberle ended its run as a limited engagement.
Corvo wasn’t alone, though, in making life easier on the Lightning. While the first line was active at the offensive end, Milan Lucic made an inexplicable giveaway in the middle of the Boston zone to set up one goal. One night after they were the best line on the ice, Patrice Bergeron, Tyler Seguin and Benoit Pouliot failed to hit the score sheet and seemed a step slow at both ends of the rink.
On the back end, Dennis Seidenberg and Andrew Ference had their share of struggles and Zdeno Chara continued to look a little less like the league’s best defenseman for about the fourth or fifth game in a row.
General manager Peter Chiarelli is never one overreact to a stretch of games, whether the Bruins are winning or losing, when it comes to his search for upgrades. Nonetheless, he has to be thinking top-four defenseman right now. And the best case for that type of target is how lackluster the Bruins when they beat Winnipeg and Montreal prior to leaving for their road trip, during which their record stands at 1-2-0.
The Bruins will look for a .500 road trip Thursday night at New Jersey. Luckily, Brad Marchand and Rich Peverley are scheduled to be back in the lineup. But Boston can’t rest on those returns. In order to earn a 2-2-0 record, they’ll need to also find their work ethic and some confident smarts with the puck.