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Rask betrayed again as Bruins muff chances.

Byline: Bud Barth

BOSTON - It would be easy to chalk this one up to the goaltending of the great Ryan Miller and leave it at that, but the Bruins had to be counting all the scoring chances they muffed in last night's 4-2 loss to the Buffalo Sabres.

Despite getting 40 shots, scoring the game's first goal and having some great opportunities for more, the Bruins simply didn't have everyone pulling in the same direction, according to veteran forward Mark Recchi.

"We didn't have everybody going, and that's what happens when you don't have everybody going," said the two-time Stanley Cup champion. "When we've got 20 people going, we're just really tough to play against. ... We just have to keep learning that when we do have these (stinkers), there's reasons why."

It was the Bruins' first regulation loss of the season when leading after one period (15-1-1), and only their second regulation loss when scoring the first goal (18-2-3).

Boston led, 1-0 and 2-1, but Buffalo scored the game's last three goals, two of them on odd-man rushes in the third period when the Bruins outshot the Sabres, 18-9.

"That (breaking out in rushes) is one of their strengths," said center Gregory Campbell, who gave the Bruins their final lead, 2-1, with his seventh goal of the season at 4:51 of the second period. "They have a lot of quick forwards that can make those plays. If you watch their games, a lot of their chances are created off the rush."

Once again, goalie Tuukka Rask was the victim of Boston's staleness, absorbing his 11th loss of the season against four wins despite solid save stats.

"That's our Achilles' heel as a team - we'll play great, we'll play terrible ... there doesn't seem to be any middle ground," said Blake Wheeler, whose nifty touch pass set up Campbell in the slot for his goal. "It's a shame because it always seems to fall when Tuukka's playing, and we leave him out to dry. ... It's not fair to him."

Rask (29 saves), who didn't allow any soft goals among the four, denied that the game was a struggle for him.

"No, I don't think so," he said. "I obviously could have stopped all four of them, not that I really had a chance. Did I play bad? Not the greatest game, but it just happens."

Coach Claude Julien stopped short of saying his team loafed or played badly. He used another word.

"We were totally flat tonight, from the first player to the last," he said. "We came out flat tonight and never seemed to find our game, even in the third period. You're coming in there tied (2-2) and you've got an opportunity for 20 minutes again to seal your fate, and it just wasn't happening tonight."

Dennis Seidenberg scored to give Boston its 1-0 lead at 11:01 of the first period. Nathan Horton camped in front to screen Miller (38 saves) on the goal, but he was the offensive goat of the game, coming up empty on several great scoring chances. His giveaway also led to Buffalo's first goal by Cody McCormick, which tied it at 1-1 just 64 seconds into the second period.

Nathan Gerbe's goal at 10:36 of the second period tied it at 2-2. Thomas Vanek got the game-winner at 5:13 of the third, then assisted on Jason Pominville's insurance marker with 3:20 left in the game.

Horton, who failed to answer media requests for a post-game interview, frittered away two great scoring opportunities in the first period.

He had a breakaway at 5:13, but for some reason stopped in front of the net and tried a backhander that missed. About four minutes later on a power play, Horton inexplicably passed up a wide-open shot just to the left of Miller to try a risky cross-ice pass that flopped.

With nine seconds left in the second period, Horton had two great short-handed chances right in front of Miller - a forehand that missed the net, and a backhander that the Buffalo goalie gobbled up.

But Horton wasn't alone. Miller made perhaps the save of the game on Recchi's point-blank backhander with the Bruins short-handed and about 10:30 left in the second period, and he kicked out a deflection in front by Milan Lucic with 1:50 left in the game.

Earlier, Marc Savard missed the net with his shot on a 2-on-1 break with 7:30 left in the second.

"We had our chances," Brad Marchand said.

NAME: BOSTON BRUINS

ART: PHOTO

CUTLINE: Buffalo goalie Ryan Miller stretches to make a save on Boston's Mark Recchi during the second period.

PHOTOG: THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
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Title Annotation:SPORTS
Publication:Telegram & Gazette (Worcester, MA)
Date:Jan 21, 2011
Words:783
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