BOSTON — Another nail was pounded with fatal authority into Calgary’s playoff coffin Saturday afternoon, as the Boston Bruins rode three power-play goals and 31 saves from goaltender Tim Thomas to a 5-0 shutout victory over the all-but-extinguished Flames.
With just seven games remaining in the regular season, the Flames trail the Detroit Red Wings and Colorado Avalanche, holders of the two final playoff spots, by six points and now seem destined to miss the playoffs for the first time since 2003.
An embarrassing effort considering the direness of the circumstances, coach Brent Sutter’s boys aren’t exactly being carried from the battlefield on their shield.
“I don’t know what to say anymore,” murmured a shaken Sutter. “I try and stay positive. I have to stay positive. And yet we need more. You wonder why players’ performances are inconsistent all year.
“There needs to be a higher work ethic. A higher commitment to the cause. And a higher sense of urgency. And until the team realizes that, understands that, you get what you get.”
Boston parlayed a pair of holding calls to veteran centreman Craig Conroy and a highly suspect goaltender interference minor to Rene Bourque into goals from defenceman Dennis Seidenberg, centre David Krejci and reigning Norris Trophy recipient Zdeno Chara to earn only their 16th win at TD Garden this season.
“We took a couple bad penalties, they scored, and we had no push back,” grumbled Sutter.
Why, you wonder, under the dire circumstances, did that happen? How could that happen?
“You’re asking the wrong guy,” replied Sutter tersely, jerking his head in the direction of the dressing room. “Ask those guys in there.”
A miserable afternoon for Conroy ended with Patrice Bergeron inadvertently banked a centring pass off his left skate and behind Calgary goaltender Miikka Kiprusoff at 4:24 of the third period.
A frustrating day for Kiprusoff ended following Boston’s fifth goal, a diving backhand swat from Mark Recchi after a dawdling Jarome Iginla had the puck batted away from him at the far side of the net.
Having seen quite enough, Sutter yanked his meal-ticket netminder, who allowed five goals on 30 shots, and replaced him with Vesa Toskala.
“This feels pretty low,” said captain Jarome Iginla, conspicuous once again by his lack of involvement. “We understood the stakes of the game. They got the first one, and we got a little bit down. Everybody wants to win, but you can’t be standing around hoping you’re going to be win.
“We haven’t played aggressive enough. We get standing, watching. Not digging in. We’re down one, we’re down two but there’s a lot of game left. But tonight unfortunately we got a little down and they just kept going.”
“We were just standing around, watching. Our feet weren’t moving, we weren’t pounding the puck, no second and third efforts.”
So, what are the handy excuses for this monstrosity?
“We bring it on ourselves,” muttered defenceman Cory Sarich. “You don’t win games, that’s what you have to deal with.
“You get in a hole, you find your way to dig yourselves out. You don’t stop.”
Calgary concludes an 0-2 Eastern road trip Sunday afternoon at the Verizon Center against Alexander Ovechkin and the Washington Capitals.
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