|04.24.11 at 12:38 am ET|
The struggles of the Bruins’ top line this series have been well-documented. Through four games, Milan Lucic was without a point while David Krejci and Nathan Horton had just one each. But even before Horton netted the game-winner in double overtime Saturday night, the line was beginning to show signs of turning it around.
The trio combined for 14 shots on goal in the game, including a game-high eight off the stick of Lucic. They went in hard on the forecheck and were able to create some quality chances around the Montreal net. And they were finally rewarded for their effort 9:03 into the second overtime when a good cycle led to an Andrew Ference shot from the point and a rebound tap-in for Horton.
“They were better and that was a good sign,” Claude Julien said of his top line. “Scoring that OT goal is hopefully going to give that line a real good boost. We all know that when you start thinking positively, things seem to be a lot easier. I think they were carrying some weight on them for not producing and wanting to be one of the lines that produced.”
Julien said the goal was particularly satisfying for Horton, who is playing in the first playoff series of his career.
“That goal for Nathan Horton in his first playoffs, to score that kind of goal, now he knows what it feels like,” Julien said. “He was a pretty happy man in the dressing room.”
Horton couldn’t help but let a giant grin form on his face as he sat in front of the media for his postgame press conference.
“It’s so nice. It feels so good,” Horton said. “It was an exciting game for both teams, but in the end, it felt good to get that. We knew it was going to be a greasy goal, and it sure was. It was a rebound, but they all count. That was a big goal for us.”
Horton said guys were obviously getting tired the longer the game went, but that you can’t dwell on that when you’re on the ice.
“You’re just pushing through it,” he said. “You put that in the back of your mind when you’re playing in double overtime, the first overtime, whatever. You put it in the back of your mind. You really focus on what you have to do to get the job done. That’s basically it.”
His line was able to exactly what it took to get the winner.
“You work hard, you go out and try to play the same style, and don’t turn the puck over,” Horton said. “That’s a huge part of our game. When we don’t turn it over and get it in deep, things happen. That’s what you see on that last goal. That’s what happened.”
Lucic, who had an assist on the decisive goal, said the key for his line moving forward is to build off the game-winner and not just be satisfied with it.
“It’s obviously great that were were able to create that goal, but you definitely don’t want to be satisfied,” Lucic said. “You want to keep pushing for more and contributing.”
|04.23.11 at 11:07 pm ET|
By DJ Bean and Scott McLaughlin
Brad Marchand got the Bruins on the board at 4:33 of the third period, beating Price for his first career playoff goal. The lead would later be relinquished as Jeff Halpern tied it at 13:56, breaking up Tim Thomas‘s shutout bid.
In skating to more than two scoreless periods, the teams made the 44 minutes of shutout hockey the longest a game in the series had gone without a goal. Prior to Saturday, a goal had been scored no later than 8:13 into the first period.
The teams will next play on Tuesday in Montreal for Game 6 at the Bell Centre; a win will permit the Bruins to advance to the conference semi-finals. If necessary, Game 7 will be played the following day at TD Garden.
WHAT WENT RIGHT FOR THE BRUINS
– Milan Lucic finally got involved on offense. After leading the team in goals during the regular season and tying for the team lead in points, he had just five shots and no points through the first four games of the series. He got the primary assist on the game-winner, and he did a much better job of making his presence known in Game 5. He led all skaters with seven shots on goal, consistently went in hard on the forecheck and found himself with a few quality scoring chances around the net.
– Lucic wasn’t the only one shooting for the Bruins in the first period, as their 12 shots on Price marked just the second time this series that the Bruins have hit double-digits in first-period shots on goal. It didn’t pay off Saturday for either team, but the B’s have the right idea.
– Michael Ryder was a temporary fan-favorite before the game thanks to his Game 4 heroics, but the crowd really took it to a new level in the first period when Ryder made what at the time was the save of the game, stopping Tomas Plekanec with Thomas way out of the net.
In addition to his work as a part-time netminder (he actually played the position in ball hockey back in his Canadiens days), Ryder continued to get chances Saturday as well, though none made their way past Price.
– Marchand came up with a clutch goal on a night in which he’d been made popular for the wrong reasons. First, he nearly went face-first into the ice in the second period while attempting to throw down with Plekanec on a play that earned each player a roughing minor.
At the second period’s conclusion, Max Pacioretty — possessing villain status around these parts for shoving Zdeno Chara and jumping Steven Kampfer at different points this season, but more widely recognized as the victim of Chara/a Montreal stanchion from March 8 — tweeted that the game was “longer than marchands [sic] nose.” Pacioretty deleted the tweet shortly after and apologized.
WHAT WENT WRONG FOR THE BRUINS
– The Bruins probably would have preferred it if Benoit Pouliot remained in the lineup for the Habs, as Halpern was able to score the equalizer in his second game back in the lineup. Halpern got back in for the Canadiens on Thursday after missing Games 1 and 2 with a lower-body injury.
– Boston struggled in the faceoff circle, as Montreal won 33 of 57 draws through the end of regulation. The subpar performance on draws didn’t have a huge effect on the game until they lost a defensive zone faceoff that directly led to Halpern’s game-tying goal late in the third. The Canadiens were also able to kill some time when the Bruins were on the power play by winning faceoffs in their own end and sending the puck down the river. The B’s actually did a much better job in the first overtime, winning 14 of the 20 draws in the frame.
– The Bruins went 0-for-3 on the power play — including missing out on a chance to end it with a man advantage in the first overtime — and are now 0-for-15 in the series. They got some nice setups and some decent looks at the net, but they need to find a way to score on the man advantage, plain and simple. They still seem too lackadaisical when it comes to getting traffic in front and digging for rebounds. Shots from the point can be the best power-play strategy when you’re getting screens, deflections and rebounds, but the Bruins aren’t getting much of any of that right now. They’re starting to get some dirty goals at even strength; now they just have to carry that over to the power play.
|04.23.11 at 9:27 pm ET|
Max Pacioretty may not be able to play, but he can still chirp. Check out what the injured Habs winger tweeted after the second period Saturady (stick-tap to Michael Berger for finding the screen-grab after it was deleted):
|04.23.11 at 6:29 pm ET|
Join DJ Bean, Mike Petraglia and others at the TD Garden for Game 5 of the Eastern Conference quarterfinals.
<a href=”http://www.coveritlive.com/mobile.php/option=com_mobile/task=viewaltcast/altcast_code=544866eb6c” mce_href=”http://www.coveritlive.com/mobile.php/option=com_mobile/task=viewaltcast/altcast_code=544866eb6c” >WEEI.com Bruins Game 5 Live Blog</a>
|04.23.11 at 1:09 pm ET|
To say Milan Lucic has struggled this series would be an understatement. After leading the Bruins in goals and tying for the team lead in points during the regular season, Lucic has no points and just five shots on goal through four playoff games. Lucic said he isn’t about to get down on himself, though.
“This is not the time to get frustrated and be negative and bring yourself down,” Lucic said. “Because when you’re bringing yourself down, you might bring someone else down with you. You don’t want to be doing that.
“At this time of year, the only thing that matters is wins and losses,” he added. “It’s tough to be negative and feel sorry about myself when we’ve won the last two games. Other guys have stepped up and obviously played well. Hopefully they can keep their play up, and I just want to do whatever I can to start playing like they are. For myself, all my focus is to elevate my game and play the way I know I can.”
With the series now even at two games apiece, Lucic said he’s not only looking at Saturday night’s Game 5 as a fresh start for both teams, but also as a fresh start for himself.
“As far as I’m concerned, it’s a fresh start,” Lucic sad. “It’s almost like 0-0 again. For myself, it’s obviously hopefully a chance to get myself back and get myself going and start doing the things I know I can do.”
Starting slow in the playoffs is nothing new for Lucic. He was held off the scoresheet for the first five games of last year’s opening round series against Buffalo before breaking through with two assists in Game 6. He went on to register five goals and two assists against Philadelphia in the next round. Lucic said the key then and the key now is to find a way to get that one bounce that gets things going.
“I think it was just getting a good bounce,” Lucic said when asked how he broke out of last year’s slump. “When you start thinking positive again, it’s almost like a weight gets lifted off your shoulders once you get that bounce. It seems like the bounces haven’t really been there [this year], but you have to find a way to battle through things and get those bounces again.”
|04.23.11 at 12:26 pm ET|
All the Bruins were on the ice for Saturday’s morning skate except Mark Recchi, who opted not to take the ice. Recchi also opted out of Thursday’s morning skate before Game 4 in Montreal. The forward lines and defense pairings are expected to be the same as they were in Game 4.
The Canadiens had all hands on deck for their morning skate, but coach Jacques Martin hinted that there could be some changes to the lineup come 7 p.m. Saturday night. “We’ll decide on our lineup game time,” he said, adding that Montreal needs “more from certain people.”
|04.22.11 at 10:55 pm ET|
The Bruins are coming off one of the more exciting victories they have had in recent memory, as they came back three times to beat the Habs in overtime on a Michael Ryder goal less than two minutes into overtime in Game 4. With the B’s having tied the series at two games apiece, they can prove that there is such thing as a home ice advantage by beating the Habs in Game 5 Saturday night. Here’s what they’ll need to do in order to grab the series lead Saturday at TD Garden.
1. Believe in momentum
Claude Julien thinks that momentum is overrated, but if the B’s can keep Game 4 fresh in their minds, they should be able to go with a full head of steam. Coming from behind the way the Bruins did at the Bell Centre is no easy task, and it was a rather embarrassing game for the Habs to lose given that they blew three leads in their own building. The B’s confidence combined with whatever the slipping Canadiens are feeling is probably a good thing for Boston.
2. Find Milan Lucic
The Bruins are still waiting for their leading goal-scorer from the regular season to pick up his first postseason point. So far, he’s been kept off the scoring sheet and has compiled a minus-2 rating. An indication that he probably isn’t working his way out of it is that he has had one or zero shots on goal in three of the four games thus far in the series. He is definitely off for some reason, but if he can get more involved in the play and show signs of life, the Boston’s top line may actually resemble a top line.
3. Pepper Carey Price early
The Bruins have had nine shots on goal or less in the first period of three of the series’ first four games. That’s no way of finding out whether they can get to Price, and it has shown. Aside from the two pucks they were able to get past Price on nine shots in the first period of Game 3, the Bruins haven’t scored on Price until the second period. Here’s a breakdown of the B’s shots on goal and goals per period in this series:
Patrice Bergeron leads the Bruins with 16 shots on goal this series.
4. Remember March 24
This series has been all about the road team thus far. The got the two goals in both Games 1 and 2 and sat back with the lead en route to big road victories. The Bruins scored a pair of first-period goals Monday and mounted a terrific comeback victory on Thursday. For whatever reason, the home team just can’t seem to win.
If the Bruins can think back to their March 24 win, they can change that trend. Johnny Boychuk scored 1:01 into the game, and the Canadiens seemed to give up at TD Garden from there, with the B’s grabbing a lopsided 7-0 win. The game was also Tim Thomas‘ lone shutout vs. the Habs, and though he’s looked fantastic at stretches during games this postseason, he has yet to dominate for 60 minutes.
5. Limit the turnovers
When the Canadiens have scored this series, it has often been because of uncharacteristic turnovers by the Bruins. It started when Tomas Kaberle put too much zip on a reverse in Game 1, and it has continued throughout the series. The B’s still have yet to play the type of game they need to, though the last half of Thursday night’s contest displayed guts like no other.