For a team that prides itself on defense and special teams play, Tuesday night was definitely a brutal showing for the Boston Bruins. Combine that with playing against the best team in the NHL, and the Bruins were fortunate to only lose by three goals.
The Bruins gave up three power-play goals and one shorthanded goal, while Jonas Hiller stopped 30 Boston shots as the Anaheim Ducks defeated the Bruins 5-2. It was the twelfth straight win for Hiller, which moved Anaheim to 18-0-2 at home this season, making them the only team in the league without a regulation loss at home.
The Bruins were shorthanded in this game from the start, losing winger Milan Lucic to an illness shortly before the start of the tilt. The B's were forced to start seven defensemen, with Kevan Miller inserted into the starting lineup along with their six regular defensemen and Carl Soderberg replacing Lucic on the first line. The lack of forwards didn't stop the Bruins from attacking Hiller early, outshooting the Ducks 16-3 in the first period but having nothing to show for it on the scoreboard.
After a holding penalty on Bruins' defenseman Dougie Hamilton early in the second period, the Ducks began their special teams' exhibition. A little over a minute into the power play, Mathieu Perreault won a faceoff in the Boston end. The puck worked its way to Teemu Selanne, who found an open Perreault in front of Boston goalie Tuukka Rask for a quick wrist shot into the top part of the net for a 1-0 lead for Anaheim.
With the Ducks on the power play again less than three minutes later, the second period nightmares for the Bruins continued. Just ten seconds after another Bruins defenseman (Johnny Boychuk) ended up in the box, Corey Perry notched his 24th goal of the season off of a rebound from a Nick Bonino shot on Rask. The Bruins were caught with too many players on one side of the ice, allowing Perry to swoop in and skate past Rask for an easy goal. Perry is now tied for third in the NHL with 24 goals, and is also in the top 10 in points scored (along with teammate Ryan Getzlaf).
The Bruins went on the power play with just over four minutes left with their sights set on cutting into Anaheim's two goal lead, but a sloppy play in the Boston end led to a third special teams goal for the Ducks. Reilly Smith turned the puck over, trying to send a cross-ice pass to Dougie Hamilton to regroup the B's power play attack. The errant pass was picked off by Andrew Cogliano, who received a pass from Daniel Winnik for a quick wrist shot past Rask to give the Ducks a 3-0 advantage. The Bruins are a minus-2 in the second period this season, giving up 37 goals while scoring 35 in the middle stanza.
The Bruins were able to cut the Ducks' lead to 3-2 with goals from Daniel Paille with just 16 seconds left in the second period and Dougie Hamilton with seven minutes gone in the third period. Justin Florek, who was recalled from Providence prior to the team departing on their current West coast trip, notched his first NHL assist on the Paille goal. Florek was filling in for Jordan Caron, who missed his second game in a row with a stiff back.
Anaheim was able to put the game out of reach with yet another power play goal, coming with less than six minutes left in the game. After a questionable interference call against Brad Marchand, which occurred during a Boston power play, the Ducks had about 20 seconds of a 5-on-4 opportunity, which they took full advantage of. Corey Perry dumped the puck into the Boston end, with Ryan Getzlaf working below the red line to find an open Nick Bonino for another uncontested goal past Rask.
Mathieu Perreault added his second goal of the night just three minutes later, capping the scoring for the Ducks. It was the first even-strength goal given up by the Bruins and Rask, who made just 15 saves and picked up his tenth loss of the season (21-10-2).
This was the first game of a three-game West coast trip that sees the Bruins play three of the top five teams in the Western Conference. Anaheim leads the West with 69 pts (32-8-5), while Thursday night's opponent Los Angeles is fifth with 57 pts (26-13-5) and Saturday night's foe San Jose is fourth with 60 pts (27-11-6). With the loss, the Bruins are just two points ahead of Tampa Bay and three ahead of Montreal in the Atlantic Division, although the B's have played two fewer games than the Canadiens.