ST. PAUL — The names, lines, and positions were all over the map Tuesday night. Defenseman Torey Krug was moved to forward for some of the game, Carl Soderberg and Loui Eriksson were moved up to the top trio, and there were lines getting ice time they normally would never see.
And it showed.
For the second time in nine days, the Bruins allowed a game-tying goal with the opposing goalie pulled and the seconds ticking down. The last time, March 30, it was the Flyers. This time it was the Wild’s Ryan Suter, who blasted a blue-line missile past Tuukka Rask with 1:05 to go at the Xcel Energy Center.
Though Rask came back to stone the Wild in overtime, making six crucial saves, the Bruins took a loss to Minnesota, 4-3, after Mikko Koivu scored the lone goal in the shootout.
“You don’t like to lose games, especially in the last minute of the regular time,” Zdeno Chara said. “But situations like that do happen, and we have to probably play them better so they don’t happen next time.”
They will likely have different personnel on the ice for those next times, especially in the playoffs. With the Bruins down a few players — Jarome Iginla (lower body), Kevan Miller (undisclosed), and David Krejci (healthy scratch) — they weren’t at full strength.
“There’s guys that were out there that shouldn’t be out there, and at the same time they should have changed because their centerman changed,” coach Claude Julien said. “They didn’t. So those aren’t guys that we put out there late in the game.
“But we’re down to three lines. We had some tired guys. I asked them to go out there for a short shift. Some guys didn’t get off quick enough there for us to get the right people out there. But that’s the way it is.”
During that 6 on 5, Dougie Hamilton, Daniel Paille, Patrice Bergeron, and Jordan Caron were on the ice, in addition to Chara. Hamilton appeared to make contact with Zach Parise, who then made contact with Rask before Suter converted.
“Yeah, they told me Dougie pushed him,” Rask said. “I felt something hit my head, then went black for a second and it was in the net. But I’m not going to start [complaining] about it.”
Up until that final minute the Bruins led for the entire third period after going back-and-forth with goals in the first. They had taken the lead on a power-play goal — at that point they were 2 for 2 with the man advantage — by Loui Eriksson, after a shot deflected first off Gregory Campbell’s stick and then off Eriksson’s on its way past Bryzgalov at 16:18 of the second.
It seemed like that would be enough. But in the end, against a team knowing it needed at least a point to clinch a playoff spot, it wasn’t.
“To me, I was really impressed with the effort [by the Wild], especially in the third period,” Julien said. “Third game in four nights, and when there’s some desperation there and you want to clinch, you find that energy somewhere. Thought they had pretty good energy there in the third period.”
The Bruins, on the other hand, didn’t look quite as good.
“I felt we were a little sloppy tonight,” Julien said. “We weren’t very sharp. Our passing and our playmaking, we didn’t have everybody really playing that well. Some of our big players were just very average tonight, so it wasn’t a great game, but we came out of here with a point. So I guess with what we expect out of our team and the way we played tonight, I think we should be happy with a point.”
Minnesota scored first at 1:05 of the first period, after Milan Lucic was called for tripping 41 seconds in. Jason Pominville got the goal glove-side on Rask on a shot from the point. But the Wild followed up with a penalty of their own, and the Bruins took advantage, as Reilly Smith scored his second goal in 27 games at 3:00 through traffic.
The teams traded another pair of goals in 28 seconds in the first. Bergeron got one on a shot from Chara that got tangled in Brad Marchand’s skate. The puck was poked out, but right to Bergeron who who extended his point-scoring streak to12 games with his 29th goal at 10:28.
At 10:56, Pominville got his second of the game off a Wild faceoff win, and it was 2-2.
And then, after the Bruins took the lead late in the second, it was tied again late in the third. After Rask’s heroics in overtime, Koivu’s goal in the second round of the shootout sealed the deal.
Asked about whether he’d seen Koivu’s backhand move before, Rask said, “Probably. I was trying to figure out what he was going to do. I couldn’t remember. I remembered afterward.”