February 17, 2012

Big Wheeling: Rask can't stop Wheeler, Jets in 4-2 loss

By Ty Anderson

Final: Winnipeg 4, Boston 2.

Recap: Despite a thoroughly one-sided first frame that saw the Bruins throw 13 shots on Winnipeg goaltender Ondrej Pavelec, Alexander Burmistrov struck at 1:59 of the second period, beating Tuukka Rask high glove-side to give the Jets a 1-0 lead.

The Bruins would answer at 6:10 of the second period when Jordan Caron's third goal of the season knotted things up at one, but a successful Winnipeg penalty kill would pave the way for Blake Wheeler's go-ahead tally with under five minutes to play in the period. 

A game-tying marker would come off the stick of David Krejci just 49 seconds into the third period, giving the Czech-born center his first point in eight games. 

That was the closest the Bruins would come to pulling ahead, as two third period markers from Bryan Little, separated by just two minutes and four seconds, would prove to be enough for Pavelec and company. 

Records: Boston 35-19-2, 72 points; Winnipeg 28-26-6, 62 points

Key Play of the Game: The Bruins were on the comeback trail despite the two-goal deficit, but a spectacular glove-save from Ondrej Pavelec on Patrice Bergeron midway through the third period would be the exclamation point on a night that saw the Jets' starter stop 31 of 33. 

Ty's Winners: Well, I'm no Connolly, but how about the return to the NHL by Josh Hennessy? In 7:54 of ice-time, the Rockland, Mass. native centered Boston's fourth line, winning six of ten face-offs. But that's not where Hennessy earned his stripes tonight.

In the middle of a scrum in the Winnipeg zone, the 27-year-old Hennessy didn't take too kindly to being pushed around by bruising defensemen Mark Stuart. Bumped and shoved by the former Bruin, Hennessy responded by dropping the gloves, signaling that he was ready and willing to go with a much tougher customer in Stuart. 

Man, talk about showing that you're willing to fight for your spot.

Ty's Losers: The slump continues for Boston goaltender Tuukka Rask. Stopping just 21 of 25 shots on the night, the 24-year-old extends his losing streak to a career-worst five straight contests. But this isn't your classic "The Bruins aren't scoring for him" debate, the dude's been downright terrible as of late. 

Over the losing streak, the Finnish-born netminder boasts an .859 save-percentage, and has less than impressive looked in each start. Tonight was no different.

Beaten on a rather soft goal to get things going, the Jets' eventual game-winner showed a side of Rask that appeared more interested in laying down on the ice than stopping the puck. I could be crazy, but these overcommitments to the butterfly have been brutal to watch. 

Notes: With an assist on Little's first goal of the game, Blake Wheeler hit the 100-assist plateu in his NHL career, 60 of those assists came during Wheeler's tenure with the Bruins from 2008 to 2011.

Final Thoughts: The search for consistency for a reeling Black-and-Gold club continues. Without consecutive wins since Jan. 10 and 12, the Bruins' best players have to be their best players. Yet, throughout this entire stretch of futility, that simply can't be said. Zdeno Chara is a minus-8 in his last five games, while Chris Kelly and David Krejci both found themselves in the penalty box in the final ten minutes of the period. That simply can't happen. 

Next: Boston will play game three of their six-game road swing on Sunday when they head to Minnesota for a date with the Wild. They won in a shootout in their last trip to Minnesota, all the way back on Nov. 25, 2009.