|11.23.11 at 10:00 pm ET|
Benoit Pouliot wasn’t the Bruins’ first choice in the shootout Wednesday night, but he proved to be the only one who could score as he extended the Bruins’ winning streak to 10 games with a 4-3 victory over the Sabres Wednesday at First Niagara Center.
Whether Pouliot would even play Wednesday was in question after he racked up six unnecessary penalty minutes Monday against Montreal, but after Sabres goaltender Jhonas Enroth, who entered the night undefeated in five shootouts, stopped Tyler Seguin, Rich Peverley, David Krejci and Patrice Bergeron, Claude Julien went with Pouliot in what proved to be a game-winning decision.
The Sabres were seeking vengeance after Milan Lucic‘s hit on Ryan Miller on Nov. 12 left the Buffalo goaltender concussed on a play that saw no response from his teammates. Paul Gaustad did his best at responding Wednesday, dropping the gloves on Lucic’s first shift but falling to the Bruins’ left wing in Lucic’s first fight in his last 25 regular season games.
Though the Sabres didn’t completely get back at Lucic, they did get on the board first. With Lucic in the box on a questionable roughing call, Christian Ehrhoff beat Tim Thomas on the power play to make it 1-0.
Minutes later, Bruins killer Thomas Vanek did his latest damage on the power play, giving the Sabres a 2-0 lead that they held until Seguin beat Enroth on a one-timer in the second period to get the Bruins on the board. T.J. Brennan, who was playing in his first career NHL game, picked up his goal at 11:02 of the second to make it 3-1, but goals from Brad Marchand and Zdeno Chara wiped out Buffalo’s lead.
The Bruins will next play Friday, when they host the Red Wings at TD Garden.
WHAT WENT RIGHT FOR THE BRUINS
– After not registering a point in the Bruins’ first six games, Chara has three goals and 12 assists for 15 points over the last 14 games. He’s on a better pace this season than he was a season ago, as the giant defenseman had 10 points (4 goals, 6 assists) over his first 20 games last season. Chara was an assist shy of a Gordie Howe hat trick.
– The Bruins successfully executed a massive penalty kill late in regulation and early in overtime after David Krejci took a hooking penalty with 1:03 remaining in the third period. Julien used Chris Kelly, Chara, Gregory Campbell and Dennis Seidenberg for the 5-on-4, with Chara and Campbell both blocking shots. Chara, Bergeron, and Seidenberg then played the first 57 seconds of overtime to kill off the 4-on-3.
– Seguin now has more goals this season (12) than he did as a rookie. It’s taken the 19-year-old just 20 games to do what he did in 74 games last season, so if for some reason you needed to be convinced that the young forward has made huge strides this season, that should do it.
Seguin’s goal, which got the Bruins on the board in the second period, was an absolute laser that the second-year player took upon receiving the feed from Patrice Bergeron. The fact that he was placed in the hardest shot competition in last year’s All-Star game festivities raised some eyebrows at the time, but just as he did last season in Carolina with a 97.1 mile-an-hour bomb, Seguin showed his slapshot shouldn’t be taken lightly.
– The Bruins responded Wednesday in a way the Sabres simply didn’t on Nov. 12. After Brad Marchand threw a big hit on Nathan Gerbe, Gaustad came in and took a run at the second-year forward in the corner of the Sabres’ zone. Marchand’s teammates came to his defense, creating a big scrum that led to a fight between Chara and Robyn Regehr.
WHAT WENT WRONG FOR THE BRUINS
– Ehrhoff’s goal ended Thomas’ shutout streak at 145:00, and Wednesday marked the fifth time this season that the defending Vezina winner has allowed three goals in a game. He didn’t have much of a chance on Brennan’s goal, and may have been screened on Ehrhoff’s shot, but the fact that the 37-year-old has yet to turn in a bad game this season is a very good sign. Thomas made a gigantic save on Roy with the B’s shorthanded in overtime and stopped Gerbe with about a minute remaining in OT. He stopped Vanek, Gerbe, Pominville, Derek Roy and Drew Stafford.
– Some iffy officiating in the first period. Lucic was sent off for roughing halfway through the period when he finished his check along the boards on Jason Pominville. Both that penalty and a Seidenberg hooking call led to Sabres’ power play goals. On the scrum that followed Guastad’s hit on Marchand, the Bruins surprisingly wound up shorthanded, giving the Sabres yet another power play (they had four in the period). It was clear heading into Wednesday that the league was going to keep on eye on the two teams, but the B’s took the brunt of it in the first 20 minutes.
– More of the same from Vanek against Boston. With five goals and three assists, Vanek now has eight points in his last five games against the Bruins.
|11.23.11 at 7:02 pm ET|
|11.23.11 at 3:22 pm ET|
Sabres coach Lindy Ruff told reporters after Wednesday’s morning skate that the Sabres are more focused on playing a “hard game” than on providing an overdue response to Milan Lucic‘s hit on goaltender Ryan Miller earlier this month.
Asked if retaliation was on the Sabres’ minds, Ruff replied, “I don’t think [NHL disciplinarian Brendan] Shanahan would like to hear that.”
Though Ruff was brief with his answers, he did indicate that if something similar were to happen, he would expect more of a response from his team. Lucic hit Miller in the first period on Nov. 12, leaving the goaltender with a concussion.
“I’ll answer the question one more time,” Ruff said. “We were disappointed in our response, and that won’t happen again.”
The Bruins have won nine games in a row, and now have as many points (24) as the Sabres. With both teams two points behind the Maple Leafs and focused on moving up, Ruff steered away from talk of retaliation and said he’s more concerned with his team coming out hard.
“We have to play a real hard game,” he said. “That would be the message tonight.”
|11.23.11 at 9:49 am ET|
NESN Bruins analyst Andy Brickley joined Dennis & Callahan on Wednesday morning for his weekly appearance to discuss the surging Bruins, who are on a nine-game winning streak.
Boston faces the Sabres on Wednesday night in a game between two Northeast Division rivals. But the game is also notable because of what occurred the last two teams faced off. In the Bruins’ win over Buffalo on Nov. 12, winger Milan Lucic collided with Sabres goaltender Ryan Miller, who had left his crease to retrieve a loose puck. Some perceived it as a dirty hit by Lucic, but Buffalo did not react to it during the game. In Wednesday’s game, however, the Sabres are expected to seek out Lucic and exact revenge, and Brickley said that it could happen right away.
“I’m hoping that we get a look at it right from the opening puck drop,” Brickley said, adding: “It’s either going to be a bloodbath right from the start or it’s going to be a Wednesday night November game between two teams battling for first place or something in between. You never know what you’re going to get. But the anticipation is that the Buffalo Sabres are going to let the Bruins know that they’re going to man up and stand up from themselves and for one another.”
After the Sabres missed their first chance to respond, they received widespread criticism. Although both teams reportedly have been spoken to by NHL discipline boss Brendan Shanahan, Brickley said the Sabres can’t afford to let another opportunity pass.
“You never really get that same exact genuine opportunity that they had to respond when Lucic collided with Miller — or hit him or checked him or ran him, however you want to describe it. That opportunity has come and gone. And you never get that same opportunity back,” Brickley said. “But because these guys are division rivals and they’re both very good teams, they expect to see each other in the postseason, they have to respond. And if it means you sacrifice the two points tonight to send a certain message even though it’s really not part of their DNA, it’s not really how their team is made up, they do have to stand up for themselves tonight.”
Asked who he thought would be the one to fight Lucic, Brickley mentioned Sabres center Paul Gaustad. After the game on Nov. 12, Gaustad said that he was embarrassed by his team’s failure to respond to Lucic’s hit immediately.
“I expect Gaustad, he was kind of under the microscope, he had a lot of things to say following the game about how embarrassed they were,” Brickley said. “Pretty good-sized guy. He’s not on a short list on the toughest guys in the NHL, but he’s tough.”
|11.21.11 at 10:28 pm ET|
Throughout much of the Bruins’ current nine-game win streak, Boston grabbed victories by blowing out opponents. On Monday night, the Bruins proved they could win the close, low-scoring games as well when they shut out the Canadiens, 1-0, in Montreal.
The win moved the Bruins into second place behind the Penguins in the Eastern Conference and into first in the Northeast Division after residing in the basement of both the conference and division just 16 days ago. The last Bruins loss came at the hands of the Canadiens on Oct. 29 at the Bell Centre.
Tim Thomas made 32 saves to earn his second consecutive shutout, both of which came on the road. Defenseman Andrew Ference scored the only goal of the game on a wrister 15:41 into the first period. Rich Peverley and Chris Kelly recorded assists on the tally.
The Bruins will attempt to carry their win streak into double digits when they return to the ice on Wednesday in Buffalo.
WHAT WENT RIGHT FOR THE BRUINS
– Ference ended Carey Price‘s six-period shutout streak 15:41 into the game with a goal on a cross-ice feed from Rich Peverley that Ference roofed over Price’s glove. The goal was Ference’s second in as many games. It came on a delayed penalty against Montreal, but the extra-attacker had yet to reach the zone.
– Thomas was outstanding in net on Monday night. He saw the puck extremely well and was in perfect position all night. Thomas made quite a few spectacular saves, including one at the end of the second period when he robbed Mike Camalleri on a power-play jam attempt. He proved how well he was tracking the puck when he snagged a Scott Gomez tip of a Camalleri shot that changed direction at the last moment.
– The Bruins penalty kill had to step up in big moments on Monday. They were tasked with stopping the Canadiens on a four-minute kill that bridged the second and third periods, and then, with Price getting pulled in the waning moments of the game, had to kill off a 6-on-4 for the final 1:39 of the game. The saying goes that a good penalty kill starts with strong goaltending, and although Thomas was strong in net, the Bruins defenders did an admirable job clearing out pucks and pinning plays against the boards. At the end of the second period, Daniel Paille proved the Bruins commitment to the penalty kill when he dove to clear out a puck despite being fresh off surgery for a broken nose.
WHAT WENT WRONG FOR THE BRUINS
– Former Canadien Benoit Pouliot put the Bruins’ lead in peril with six penalty minutes off of stick penalties in the second period. Pouliot’s second penalty, a four-minute double minor for high sticking, came less than three minutes after the end of his first. Bruins coach Claude Julien made Pouliot pay in the third by benching him for all but 13 seconds of the period.
– The Bruins were unable to sustain much offensive pressure throughout the game, and the top two lines were quiet for most of the night. Brad Marchand and David Krejci failed to put any shots on net. The Bruins in all barely tested Price, putting up 18 shots on the night. They were outshot 14-5 in the third period.
|11.19.11 at 9:39 pm ET|
Tim Thomas picked up his second shutout of the season as the Bruins extended their win streak to eight games with a 6-0 victory over the Islanders Saturday night at Nassau Coliseum.
Chris Kelly scored twice for the Bruins, who also received scoring from Nathan Horton, Patrice Bergeron, Andrew Ference and Zdeno Chara. Both Horton and Ference’s goals came on the man advantage. Kelly picked up a secondary assist on Ference’s goal, giving the third-line center his first regular-season three-point game as a member of the Bruins.
While Thomas was able to pick up a shutout in a fairly easy contest, nothing remotely similar could be said for Islanders netminder Rick DiPietro. The Boston University product was yanked after allowing three first-period goals,with Anders Nilsson playing the final two periods.
The Bruins will next play Monday, when they face the Canadiens at Bell Centre.
WHAT WENT RIGHT FOR THE BRUINS
– Another strong showing from one Tyler Seguin. The 19-year-old drew two penalties on the night, neither of which let to a power-play goal, but both of which drove home the fact that Seguin’s more involved play this season has helped the Bruins in more ways than one. He also set up Bergeron’s goal, grabbing a puck in front of the Bruins’ net following a Joe Corvo slip-up and dishing it to Dennis Seidenberg, who in turn fed it to Marchand, who fed it back to Seguin. The speedy forward took the puck through the neutral zone and into the Islanders’ zone, blowing past Nino Niederreiter and feeding Bergeron for the center’s fourth goal of the season. Seguin now has 21 points of the season, which leaves him one short of his rookie total.
– A couple of special teams notes: First off, Horton’s first-period tally was the Bruins’ first power-play goal in four games, and Ference made it a 2-for-5 night for the man advantage. For a while it appeared the Bruins had been on their way to their first game without a penalty this season, though Kelly’s trip on Josh Bailey changed that 6:53 into the third period. Either way, with the Islanders not scoring on the power play and Andrew MacDonald taking a penalty with 29 seconds remaining on it, the Bruins ended their streak of games in which they allowed a power play goal at four. The last time the B’s had allowed a power play goal in four straight games was Oct. 1-12 of 2009.
Speaking of special teams, Benoit Pouliot got some time on the power play in the first period, drawing a Milan Jurcina holding call to set up a 30-second 5-on-3, and, upon the original penalty expiring, set up Horton’s power-play goal.
– The Bruins allowed a grand total of two shots on goal in the first period, which for the Islanders is pretty much equivalent of Tim Tebow’s two completions a couple of weeks ago. The Islanders’ first shot of the night came over 10 minutes into the contest and a first period that B’s completely dominated.
WHAT WENT WRONG FOR THE BRUINS
– A couple of giveaways from Joe Corvo in his own end. Corvo had the puck knocked away from him behind the net in the first period, but it resulted in Seguin setting up the play that led to Bergeron’s gaol. It didn’t cost the Bruins in the second period either, but Corvo could certainly be better in his own end than he’s been thus far.
– The B’s got only six shots on goal in the second period, the only period in which they did not score. The Islanders also woke up a bit in the second, outshooting the Bruins, 11-6.
|11.18.11 at 10:11 am ET|
Bruins defenseman Andrew Ference joined Dennis & Callahan on Friday morning for his weekly appearance. With their 2-1 shootout win over the Blue Jackets Thursday night, Ference and the Bruins have now won seven straight games, all in the month of November. But the win over Columbus was not as easy — or as pretty — as the other wins have been for Boston. Ference said that’s just all part of the game.
“It definitely wasn’t a pretty thing to watch,” Ference said. “They came to play and it was a weird game, it probably wasn’t the best game to watch. What can you do? Those happen, but come playoff time, we’ll take the points.”
Coming up big for Boston was goaltender Tuukka Rask, who had 30 saves and stopped two of the three attempts in the shootout. Rask was part of trade rumors early in the week, as some have speculated that the Bruins would consider trading him for Blue Jackets high scorer Rick Nash.
The rumors only got more press when Rask appeared to have an angry meltdown in practice on Wednesday when he gave up a goal during a special teams drill and tried to break his stick over the crossbar. But Ference said he doesn’t think the team pays much attention to trade speculation.
“I’m not even really sure who pays attention to that stuff. I know most guys don’t,” Ference said. “I think most guys kind of go to the Bill Belichick, never read anything that goes on. It sounds like a cop out, but I really think guys don’t pay attention to it.”
Ference went on to say that it’s an advantage to have two solid goaltenders in Rask and Tim Thomas.
“[Rask] is great for us. I think it’s awesome to have two goalies that we can have complete confidence in,” Ference said. “From a player’s perspective, you want the best players on your team. Players that you have the greatest chance of winning with. And if I can look back and see two goalies that gives us an unbelievable chance of winning every night, why wouldn’t I want that? I’d be crazy not to.”