With their playoff position already sowed up in the East, the Bruins are only playing out the rest of their regular season schedule before the playoffs start in just eight days time.
That being said, the Bruins should have finished off what they started Tuesday night in Minnesota, but a late goal against and another lifeless shootout undid their hard work.
The Bruins lost 4-3 to the Wild in a shootout, as it was Wild captain Mikko Koivu who netted the only goal in the shootout to lift the playoff-bound Wild past the Black and Gold.
|Koivu beats Rask for the only goal in the shootout (via ESPN.com)|
The first period saw four goals scored, two from each side, and all four on opposite ends of the period.
Jason Pominville put the Wild up 1-0 early, just 1:05 into the game on the powerplay. Milan Lucic went off for a tripping penalty on Jared Spurgeon, and the Wild took only 20 seconds to work the puck around the boards and to the point men, the first being Mikko Koivu, who passed over to Pominville who smacked home the shot with a quick screen in front of Rask.
But Reilly Smith wasted little time in tying things up, as just two minutes later he rifled home his 20th of the year at 3:00 on the clock. On the powerplay due to a Ryan Suter tripping penalty, the Bruins were able to keep the puck in the zone, where Smith eventually came off the side boards uncontested and with acres of space to work with. He lined up his shot right in the middle of the ice and teed up his blast, which took a deflection and beat Bryzgalov.
Patrice Bergeron put the Bruins ahead 2-1 and extended his point streak to 12-games when he scored his 29th of the year at 10:28. After the second-line dumped the puck into the zone and got the forecheck going, it was Reilly Smith who came out of the scrum and zipped the puck to Zdeno Chara at the blueline. Chara was able to corral the puck and launch a shot on net. After hitting a body in front and bouncing around, it was Bergeron who found it and whipped it past Bryzgalov.
But the lead didn't last for long, as it was again Pominville who got the Wild even, scoring his second of the game and 29th of the year just 20 seconds later, jamming home the puck after a Matt Moulson pass found it's way to Pominville through the crease.
The game held at 2-2 until 16:18 of the second, when the Bruins again capitalized on their second powerplay of the game to jump back ahead.
|The B's celebrate a goal vs the Wild (via ESPN.com)|
In any case, the Bruins held the 3-2 lead and were doing a great job of smothering the Wild and were well on their way to wrapping up their 54th win of the year.
The third period saw plenty of penalties and not much push-back from the Wild. Maybe it was because the Phoenix Coyotes dropped a point in their game, which clinched a playoff spot for the Wild by default? The need to extend themselves wasn't there that much for Minnesota, but this team did not look good trying to crack the Bruins defensive code. They only had five shots on goal in the period, but one of those few eventually got through.
With just a minute and change to go, Ryan Suter slipped the puck past the chaos in front of Tuukka Rask for his 8th goal of the year and tied the game at 3-3. The Wild had the goalie pulled, and after running around in their own zone trying to pick a body to hit, the Bruins got sandwiched in close to the crease and let the puck slip out wide where Moulson found Suter open to let the shot go.
With a point secured for both teams the game headed to overtime where the Bruins went to work with the three-forward, one-defenseman approach they've used for almost the entire year. Both teams had a few good chances, with Rask robbing Matt Moulson in close with the glove and then swiping a Jason Pominville wrist-shot out of the air.
Milan Lucic and Carl Soderberg almost connected to end the game with about a minute to go, but the pass was broken up before a clean shot could be taken.
And thus we headed to a shootout, and you can probably guess how it ended.
Wild captain Mikko Koivu scored the only goal in the three rounds, giving the Wild the extra point and clinching the first wild-card spot for them in the West.
The two points should really have been Boston's in this game, as they let the Wild off the hook by surrendering another late-goal, a theme that has crept into their game the last few weeks. That being said, Boston was able to shut down the Wild in their own building for long stretches of the game, and if the game ends 3-2 Boston, a lot of Wild fans would have been talking about little their team fought in the last 20 when gunning for a game-tying goal.
Boston will head to Winnipeg to play the Jets on Thursday. Only three games remain in the regular season, and with the point taken from the State of Hockey, Boston still holds a three point lead over the St. Louis Blues in the race of the President's Trophy.