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No home cooking for lackluster B's.

Byline: Bud Barth

BOSTON - They've shown flashes here and there, but for the most part, the Bruins have been - pardon the brutal candor here - a horrible home team this season.

The sellout TD Garden crowd reminded them of that fact yesterday with a hearty shower of boos following their lackluster, 3-0 shutout loss to Cam Ward (37 saves) and the Carolina Hurricanes on a Black Friday matinee performance that lived up (down?) to its name.

It was the second time in two weeks that the Bruins have been shut out at home, where they are now 4-5-2 on the season. It was the fourth shutout in the last five games at the Garden, two of them going in Boston's favor.

The 'Canes pierced the Bruins through the thickest part of their armor - the penalty-killing unit - by scoring three power-play goals. Boston, which came into the game No. 1 in the NHL in killing penalties, hadn't allowed that many since April 2009.

Conversely, the B's went 0 for 4 on their own power play, not even mustering a shot on the first two opportunities. They had plenty of chances on the last two, which came consecutively in the third period, but Ward was there when he needed to be.

"Obviously, our special teams really were unacceptable tonight," coach Claude Julien said, "and that's basically the story of the game."

Boston actually came out strong and played a good first period. Ward stopped Patrice Bergeron's backhander in close at 6:45 and Milan Lucic's great chance from just above the left hash marks at 10:00, and Blake Wheeler hit the post with a one-timer from the left circle at 12:30.

Nathan Horton followed with two great bids. Ward got back into position just in time to cover what was momentarily an empty net, and got an arm on Horton's shot from the right side at 13:10. Then Horton cranked off a nasty one-timer from near the right hash marks that nearly decapitated Ward, but he held his ground with 4:00 left in the period.

After all that, Wheeler went off for holding with 1:09 left - the game's first penalty - and Carolina scored on its first shot of the power play. Daniel Paille, playing because Jordan Caron was home with the flu, lost the puck on a potential short-handed rush, and Jeff Skinner converted a great two-on-one pass from Tuomo Ruutu with 17 seconds left in the period.

It was the 10th time in the last 12 games that the Bruins have given up the first goal, a trend they know must end.

"We've got to do something," Lucic said, "to try and get that first goal in." The big winger said that when the Hurricanes scored late in the period after the Bruins had outshot them, 12-6, "it kind of sucked the life out of us."

"We have to figure out something," added Horton, whose line (including Lucic and Bergeron) was very active, combining for 10 shots, including half of Boston's 12 in the first period. "We can't afford to lose any more games. We want to win every game."

The victim of all this was Tim Thomas, who was not to blame on any of the goals. The first was a perfect passing play, the second a deflection by Ruutu at 11:09 of the second period, and the last one - by Jussi Jokinen at 7:52 of the third - was a great whip shot from the right side.

"I don't know if we should be frustrated or if we should be disappointed in ourselves," said Thomas, who suffered just his third loss of the season (11-2-1). "We didn't do what it took to get the win. You can say, `Oh, Cam Ward played good,' but it wasn't like we were getting grade-A chances all the time out there. It was a little bit of a lack of emotion."

Ruutu was outstanding for Carolina with a goal and an assist, plus a game-high eight hits. But Thomas credited Carolina's Jordan Staal, who was practically in his lap for the deflection goal and seemed to be in the way all afternoon.

"He was doing a real good job," Thomas said. "He was even making it hard to follow the passes. He's a very tall guy (6-foot-4) and he's good at screening, he moves to the right place at the right time."

The Bruins played with very little sense of desperation, as evidenced by their 17 hits - an average amount for them, and two less than Carolina.

"We know it's a long year, but at the same time, we had a goal in mind to be a hard team to play against," veteran Mark Recchi said, "and we're kind of slacking off a little bit on that."

NAME: BOSTON BRUINS

ART: PHOTOS

PHOTOG: THE ASSOCIATED PRESS

CUTLINE: (1) Boston goalie Tim Thomas looks up at the scoreboard after letting up a second period goal. (2) Carolina's Jeff Skinner scores on Boston goalie Tim Thomas during the first period of yesterday's game.
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Title Annotation:SPORTS
Publication:Telegram & Gazette (Worcester, MA)
Date:Nov 27, 2010
Words:843
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