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Bruins save their best for last

04.10.10 at 5:29 pm ET
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Every fan inside TD Garden on Saturday was pretty safe thinking they had seen it all when the Bruins set a new NHL record by scoring three short-handed goals in one minor penalty. After all, it had never happened in the history of the league.

Then Blake Wheeler tried to find Michael Ryder in the offensive zone and missed. No problem, except for the fact the puck banked off the boards at center ice and carmoned down the ice toward Boston’s vacated net after Tuukka Rask headed off for an extra skater on a delayed power play.

That’s when Patrice Bergeron – the most consistent Bruin this season according to coach Claude Julien – came to the rescue and made the save of the season.

“I was trying to find a second speed somehow and talk to that puck to slow down because it was going pretty fast.” Bergeron said.

He got his stick on it just before it crossed the line and emotional disaster was averted. Instead of the Bruins getting tied up, 3-3, on the flukiest of goals, they maintained their 3-2 advantage and held on a 4-2 playoff-clinching win.

“I had to keep going, the puck actually took some speed I think,” Bergeron said. “It was going pretty fast there and as soon as I turned around I realized it was probably going to go in. It was going right for the net so I started going as fast as I could.”

And now Bergeron and the Bruins can finally think about the playoffs.

“Yeah, it’€™s a big relief,” Bergeron said. “We always knew we could do it and you wait 81 games just to get there and it means a lot to us, obviously. We can look forward now. We know that anything can happen in the playoffs as long as you get in. After that, it’€™s up in the air and you just have to be ready and play your game.”

Blake Wheeler expressed his relief afterward and gratitude toward Bergeron.

Read More: Bruins, NHL, Patrice Bergeron,

Shorthanded miracle clinches playoffs for Bruins

04.10.10 at 3:24 pm ET
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Summary — Boston used a miraculous shorthanded burst to start the second period to put away the Carolina Hurricanes 4-2 in a Saturday matinee game at TD Garden to finally earn a spot in the Eastern Conference playoffs. Tuukka Rask got the win for the Bruins with 33 saves while Cam Ward was solid for the entire game except the first two minutes of the second period to take the loss.

The Bruins scored three shorthanded goals on the same penalty kill to start the second period (Hunwick, hooking 19:42 of first) in a span of 1:04.l Daniel Paille was the first to crack the board when took the puck through Ward’s crease, pivot-turned and fired back on net at :32 to make it 1-0 Boston.

Blake Wheeler got in on the action next when he found a rebound off the stick of David Krejci in the slot in front Ward at 1:21. Wheeler banged it back into the net for the two-goal advantage. Paille’s fellow penalty killer, Steve Begin, decided that he would turn it into a troika 15-seconds later when he shot from the right face off circle with enough vigor that Ward could not contain it and it bounced off his chest pads, over his shoulder and into the net at 1:36.

It was the first time since 1985 and perhaps that Boston has had two goals on a penalty kill and perhaps the only time in history where they have done it three times. The 1:04 it took to score the goals was the fastest that it has been done all season and the fastest three goals for the Bruins since :52 on Dec. 20, 2001 against Montreal.

But the game was not done there just because the Bruins did something spectacular. Carolina clawed back to make it a contest, starting when Erik Cole picked up his 10th of the season by knocking down Rask’s door right in front of the crease at 14:30 in the second. Patrick Dwyer would make it a one-goal game three minutes later when he skated through the slot and went back against the grain on Rask with a wrist shot to make it 3-2 at 17:30.

Boston came out of the gates hot in the first period as they rained 10 shots on Ward in the first five minutes but were unable to crack the goaltender in the opening frame. The momentum see-sawed back to Carolina later in the period as the Canes took their chances on Rask to try and even the shot count and getting close at 18-14 at the start of the second.

Milan Lucic added an empty-net goal with a minute left for the final tally.

The game was an official sellout, the 24th consecutive official sellout for the team this year and 25th overall (counting the Winter Classic at Fenway). The last non-sellout for the Bruins was on Dec. 2, 2009 against Tampa Bay.

Three Stars

Daniel Paille — The forward has been Boston’s spark on the penalty kill all season and was rewarded during the last home game of the year as he and his fellow shorthanded mates broke through in spectacular fashion. In addition to scoring the first goal he added a secondary assist to Begin’s strike.

Steve Begin — In an ode to the Bruins great year of penalty killing, Begin earned his 100th NHL point with his goal and teamed with Paille to kill all the Hurricanes power play chances.

Blake Wheeler — The young forward broke out of a scoring slump for his 18th of the year. Wheeler had not scored since March 15 against the Devils.

Turning Point — Who would have thought that the Bruins would turn on a penalty AGAINST them? Matt Hunwick took a slashing call at the 19:42 mark of the first period, thus giving the Hurricanes a man-advantage to start the second. Boston then turned around and scored three goals to start the second for all the offense they would need to win the game and clinch a playoff spot.

Key Play — A Boston opportunity almost turned into a disaster in the third period. Carolina’s Jerome Samson was going to be called for a high-sticking penalty but the Hurricanes had not gained possession of the puck. The delayed penalty meant that the Bruins could pull Rask for an extra attacker, thus leaving the net empty. An errant back pass by the Bruins bounced off the wall in neutral zone and straight at the empty net, a goal that would be the game-tying striking if it crossed the plain. Patrice Bergeron gathered a head of steam and chased the puck down, catching it right as it as about to go across the line and whip-clearing it back down the left wing out of danger. The play was reviewed to make sure that the puck did not indeed cross the line and the verdict of no-goal was upheld.

Read More: Blake Wheeler, Cam Ward, Daniel Paille, Erik Cole

Second period summary: Bruins vs. Hurricanes

04.10.10 at 2:47 pm ET
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You do not see that everyday. Or, well, ever.

Boston came of the dressing room to start the second period and decided to just flat out set Cam Ward on fire. It scored three goals in 1:04, tallied by Daniel Paille, Blake Wheeler and Steve Begin, in that order at :32, 1:21 and 1:36.

Oh, and all of them came on the penalty kill.

Paille got the first on a hustle play when he found took a zone-clearing pass from Zdeno Chara and kept his legs moving down the right wing, marching straight to and through Ward’s crease, turning back and firing to give the animated TD Garden crowd something to cheer about. It was Paille’s 10th of the season.

Before the public address announcer could finish telling the crowd the details of Paille’s goal, Wheeler found a rebound in the slot off of a David Krejci shot that he banged back home to make it 2 -0. Steve Begin wanted in on the party after that and found the puck on the right circle and shot into Ward’s chest protector. The goaltender could not put it down and it bounced over his pads into the net to make an already jubilant crowd absolutely giddy.

A couple notes on the three shorted-handed goals:

3 — The total of short-handed goals that the Bruins had all season before three in the same penalty kill.

1:04 — Fastest the Bruins have scored three goals this season and fastest three goals the team has scored since :52 on Dec. 20, 2001 against the Canadiens. The fastest the Bruins have scored three this season was on Dec. 23 against Atlanta in 1:08.

25 – Years since it has been that Boston has scored multiple goals on the same penalty kill after scoring two against Toronto on Jan. 9, 1985.

Carolina went on the power play again at 12:18 when Milan Lucic went for a trip. Neither team was able to tally on this penalty though it did give Carolina some momentum as Erik Cole would be Tuukka Rask on the doorstep of his crease to make it 3-1 at 14:30.

The Canes then cut the lead to one at 17:06 when Patrick Dwyer put up his seventh of the season when he crossed through the slot and went back against the grain with a wrist shot to beat Rask far side and make the game a contest once again.

Boston had a power play at 17:20 when Carolina center Eric Staal took at slashing penalty. The Bruins can apparently score at will when they are a man down but are utterly impotent while a man up as yet another power play fizzled out. Boston is now 0 for its last 20 man-advantage opportunities and 3 for their last 46.

Read More: Blake Wheeler, Cam Ward, Daniel Paille, Eric Staal

Bruins playoff scenarios

04.10.10 at 1:58 pm ET
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Alright, let’s break this down as simply as we can.

-The Bruins can clinch a playoff spot with a point against either Carolina or Washington.

-The Bruins can clinch the No. 6 seed with a Montreal loss against Toronto on Saturday night and a combination of two points against the Hurricanes and Capitals (a win or two overtime points).

- The Bruins can clinch the No. 7 seed with a combination of two points combined with a Canadiens win.

-The Bruins can clinch the No. 8 seed with a single point on Saturday or Sunday and the Rangers/Flyers games does not go into overtime.

- The Bruins would take the N0. 8 seed with two losses only if Sunday’s Ranger/Flyers game does not go into overtime earning the loser a point.

-The Bruins would not make the playoffs with two losses and the Rangers/Flyers game on Sunday does go into overtime.

Right now the Bruins and Canadiens each have 87 points. Montreal holds the tie-breaker because they have more wins and also won the head-to-head season series. The Rangers and Flyers have 86 points apiece and play each other in Philadelphia on Sunday. Boston would lose any tie-breaker against the four remaining teams because they would end up with fewer wins.

Read More: Cam Ward, Tuukka Rask,

First period summary: Bruins vs. Hurricanes

04.10.10 at 1:43 pm ET
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It was pretty obvious from the start that the Bruins want to wrap up their playoff spot against the Hurricanes on Saturday and not leave anything to fate.
The puck lived in the Carolina zone so long in the first half of the first period that it had time to build its own system of igloo villages in front of Canes’ goaltender Cam Ward. The Bruins put up 10 shots before the six-minute mark and went on two early power plays (Drayson Bowman, slashing 1:39, Chad LaRose, tripping 6:16) as a result of their aggressive play. As has become the common theme the last month-and-a-half, neither of those man-advantage opportunities resulted in an actual goal, but they did serve to keep momentum on the side of the Boston.
The Bruins did serve a little bit of that momentum back later in the period starting when rookie defenseman Adam McQuaid went to the box for hooking at 8:51 and the Canes started turning the pace of play into a more even affair by the end of the period but overall Boston held the advantage over their foes from Tabacco Road  with an 18-14 shot advantage.
The Hurricanes will start the second period on the power play as defenseman Matt Hunwick took a hooking penalty at 19:42.
Read More: Adam McQuaid, Cam Ward, Matt Hunwick, Tuukka Rask

Julien: ‘We’re not there yet’

04.10.10 at 1:29 pm ET
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Bruins coach Claude Julien was cautioning against counting any playoff berths before they’re clinched prior to Saturday afternoon’s matinee with the Carolina Hurricanes at TD Garden. With a win, the Bruins clinch a playoff spot and no worse than a No. 7 seed in the East and avoid the Washington Capitals in the first round.

[Click here to listen to Julien's pregame comments.]

“We’re not there yet,” Julien said. “This is an opportunity for us to control our own destiny. For me, we need to take care of business today. It’s as simple as that. We need to be ready to go. And hopefully we are.”

Meanwhile, Julien said defenseman Mark Stuart is still more than a few days away from returning to action after surgery to treat a finger infection. Tuukka Rask starts in net for the Bruins. Should the Bruins not clinch today, they finish up the season on Sunday afternoon in Washington against the Capitals.

Read More: Bruins, Claude Julien, Eastern Conference race, NHL

All eyes turn to New York

04.09.10 at 1:21 pm ET
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WILMINGTON — The equation has become pretty simple — The Bruins won on Thursday therefore any Rangers regulation loss guarantees Boston a playoff spot. There was a lot of talk yesterday about what type of scenarios would have to play out this weekend for Boston to make (or not make) the playoffs but it really just boils down to counting points. Boston has a three point lead over the ninth spot, the Rangers only have the potential to gain four points and start a home-and-home against the starting Friday.

The eyes of the Hub will be keenly attuned to Madison Square Garden tonight but there is more at stake for the Bruins than just a playoff birth this weekend. Head coach Claude Julien alluded to the fact after practice at Ristuccia Arena on Friday that the Bruins are also looking at playoff positioning as much as just making the tournament.

“It is a matter of sticking with it. Not just the fact that you get into the playoffs, but, where do you want to be in that situation?” Juliend said. “We’ve got an opportunity right now to be anywhere from sixth to ninth and we have to recognize that and we have to win as many games as we can.”

Practice was loose on Friday and the feeling around the Bruins is that they are really taking to the example set by veteran Mark Recchi when he says that being in the midst of an NHL playoff race should be fun. Players were whooping and hollering on the rink as they continually messed up one of Julien’s drills and gave a rousing applause when a unit got it right. Make no mistake about it though, the Bruins may be loose but the cord of tension that has been tightening around the team since the Olympic break is as tight as it has ever been.

“The biggest mistake is for [the sense of urgency] to be lessened,” coach Claude Julien said. “Two points guarantees us a playoff spot but those two games coming up, Carolina, I just watched them last night against Montreal, they are playing pretty well. They are playing loose and playing well and they got a pretty good goaltender that keeps them in the game. I don’t think that anything is a given but we have an opportunity to watch a game tonight that may, or may not give us the answer that we want.”

Miroslav Satan Putting It Together

Forward Miroslav Satan has come on for the Bruins of late, scoring the game-winning goal among his two strikes last Saturday against Toronto and tying the game on Thursday after teaming with David Krejci to create a turnover on the forecheck and marching straight in on Sabres’ goaltender Patrick Lalime.

Satan now has nine goals, three in the last week, in 36 games for the Bruins after missing the first half of the season before signing with Boston. He has gone stretches during his stay in the Hub where he has not been a factor but has proved to be good for the Bruins in the games that have mattered most.

“I think that was a good pickup by us,” Julien said. “For what he has given us he has certainly been good. You know, he has always had good hands and has been a guy who has scored a lot of goals in this league and you know, again, his experience yesterday when he just took it to the net, those are the things that we have been talking about a lot and he finds those holes and he finds ways to score goals in those situations.”

“I like what he has brought to our team. To me he has gotten better as he has played here and for a guy who didn’t play the first half of the year to have, I think it is nine goals right now is pretty good for a team challenged to score to start with,” Julien said.

The Bruins forecheck was active on Thursday and led to Satan and David Krejci breaking the puck loose off the half wall where Satan could take it straight to the net and the game-tying goal on a backhand. Since Julien changed the lines to give Krejci new wing mates the unit with Satan and Marco Sturm has been aggressive on the forecheck and has given the Bruins some scoring opportunities that may have not been present otherwise.

“The fact that we are aggressive creates turnovers and when players like Krejci and Satan create a turnover a turnover and are going in on net you are pretty comfortable because those guys are pretty crafty,” Julien said.

Read More: Claude Julien, Miroslav Satan,
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