BOSTON -- Torey Krug stood in front of his locker, speaking soft enough that a deep-sea microphone would have struggled to pickup the words slowly drooping from the 25-year-old defenseman's mouth. Across the locker room, David Krejci mirrored his teammates body language: slouched and seemingly incapable of finding the words to describe his teams inability to pull out a must needed win. Loui Eriksson, standing equidistant in-between the two, looked about as miserable as a Swedish man can look. It would have been easy to convince a bystander the team just finished a Game 7 defeat on home ice or that someone had burned down an IKEA in Eriksson's native Sweden.
The reality of the situation, though, is that IKEA will not be investigating arson charges anytime soon, but rather that the Bruins managed just a single point in a 2-1 shootout loss to the Carolina Hurricanes. Noah Hanifin's shootout winner in the fifth round of the NHL's version of an arcade game mode, officially means the Bruins no longer control their own destiny. Instead, they turn to Philadelphia and hope that the Flyers can grab a regulation win in Detroit on Wednesday -- the latter of whom is now tied for third in the Atlantic Division with Boston.
For Boston, the effort was there. They finished with a 36-28 edge in shots, seemed to drive play down the stretch in the third and generated a series of chances throughout the game they were unable to capitalize on. Cam Ward waffleboarded away 35 Bruins shots, several of which would have found their way past Ward on any other night. The once-prized Conn Smythe winner has been largely pedestrian in 2015-2016, posting a 2.38 goals against .910 save percentage. On Tuesday night, however, he turned in a vintage Ward performance.
Zdeno Chara saved the Bruins season, briefly, by stopping a Hurricanes shot from finding its way into an empty net midway through the third period. It was a point-saving play, and perhaps a moment to look back on if Boston manages to sneak itself into the playoff structure.
Jimmy Hayes turned in an action-packed 5:03 of ice time in his return to the lineup, including a fight with Hurricanes forward Brad Malone, as well as being credited with one takeaway and a shot on goal. Hayes's fight prompted one fan to shout "about f***ing time you bum" and his friends seemed to have a nice laugh. I personally think it's ridiculous to assume a player needs to be an enforcer because their above 6'2", but that's a discussion for a different day.
Carolina got on the board with 1:06 remaining in the first, when defenseman Jacob Slavin fired a wrister through traffic, managing to sneak it by Tuukka Rask. The goal is Slavin's second of the season. The 21-year-old would later ring the post in overtime, nearly ending the B's hope for 2 points earlier than in the fifth round of a shootout.
Loui Eriksson scored the equalizing goal, his 29th, for Boston, following his teams ability to kill off the remainder of the Swede's tripping minor to open the third. A poor Carolina line change gave Eriksson space, and a John-Michael Liles outlet pass sent the forward in alone, where he deked past a previously unbeatable Ward.
Rookie defenseman Colin Miller, in his first game back from Providence, logged 12:45 of ice time -- only 1:19 of which came in the second period. Miller earned ice time in overtime, but was on the receiving end of an embellishment call that negated what would have been a Bruins powerplay on a tripping minor against Jordan Staal. With Jake Gyllenhaal in attendance, can you really fault the younger Miller for putting on his acting cap?
The Bruins return to action Thursday night against Detroit -- who will be on the back-end of a back-to-back -- in a must-win game at TD Garden.