March 10, 2011

Endless string of penalties kills Bruins

by Jesse Connolly

Bruins defenseman Johnny Boychuk. (Getty)

BOSTON -- Trying to stop the red-hot Sabres was a daunting challenge in itself for the Boston Bruins on Thursday night at TD Garden. Having to overcome a relentless string of penalties, as the referees handed Buffalo one power play after another, didn't make things much easier.

Thanks largely to a whopping seven man advantages, the Sabres were able to erase two leads before newcomer Brad Boyes netted the winning goal with 1:16 remaining in overtime.

 "We were hoping to respond here after the way our last game went," defenseman Adam McQuaid said. "I thought we went out and played strong, especially in the first period. Not quite as good in the second period, definitely took a lot of penalties and our penalty kill was pretty good tonight.

"They have a lot of skill on their power play there. You give them too many opportunities and they’re going to take advantage."

 While 5-on-3 opportunities are often few and far between, the Sabres had two such chances in Thursday's tilt.

 "Well we just did a good job and got it down as soon as we got it," Johnny Boychuk said of the Bruins effort to kill off Buffalo's first 5-on-3 opportunity in the second period.

 "We didn’t really give them too much, even on their goal. They moved it down and then straight across and I’m not sure who it hit, but it hit something and went in. I don’t even know if they touched it or not."

 While a flew of Buffalo's tallies were of the fluky variety, the fact that the referees gave them so many opportunities to fire at will on Tim Thomas was immeasurably frustrating for Boston.

 "We did a pretty good job of dealing with being a man down for a large portion of the game," said Gregory Campbell, who applauded the effort of his fellow penalty killers. "So, five-on-three, it’s tough enough to kill one, and if there’s a couple in a game, it really puts a lot of pressure on us. Unfortunately we let them back in in the third."

 When asked about the validity of all the penalties, McQuaid clearly didn't want to get himself into any kind of trouble with the league by openly criticizing the officials.

 "I don’t know," he said. "I mean they’re tough, tough to swallow. Especially when you’re down a man or two even. I don’t know. I’m not going to say too much."

 McQuaid didn't have to voice his displeasure with referees Ian Walsh and Brad Watson. The fact that player-after-player was prodded about the officiating said it all.

 "We pushed a guy harmless like you see happen a million times and we’re called for a penalty to put us down five-on-three," coach Claude Julien said. "I mean, this is the way this game goes. Some nights things go your way and sometimes they don’t. Tonight we just seemed to have a lot of tough calls going against us."

 Julien was especially irked by a call on Zdeno Chara in the second period, one in which the Bruins captain shoved d-man Steve Montador in the corner and was suspiciously called for boarding.

 "Like boarding on Zdeno Chara, when a guy slides probably five feet on the ice before he does hit the boards," said Julien. "How do you explain that one? And I know they can make mistakes and you have to accept that, but still it’s frustrating for teams to see those kinds of things happen over and over.

 "It was one of those nights for us that we never got a break."

 Perhaps truer words have never been spoken.