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No lead is safe as Tampa rallies to tie series

05.21.11 at 4:24 pm ET
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TAMPA — A three-goal lead wasn’t enough for the Bruins Saturday, and once again Simon Gagne made them pay.

The Lightning forward sent a wrist shot past both Tomas Kaberle and Tim Thomas at 6:54 of the third period, capping a run of four unanswered goals from Tampa Bay at St. Pete Times Forum. Martin St. Louis added an empty-netter in the final minute to make it a 5-3 Lightning win and even the Eastern Conference finals at two games apiece.

The Bruins jumped out to a 3-0 lead in the first period with a pair of goals from Patrice Bergeron and one from Michael Ryder to bring Mike Smith to the Lightning’s net in favor of starter Dwayne Roloson. The B’s saw their lead erased in the second period after two goals from Teddy Purcell and one from Sean Bergenheim.

Bergenheim now has nine goals this postseason after scoring 14 in the regular season.

Both the Bruins and Lightning went 0-for-2 on the power play, though Bergeron’s second goal was of shorthanded variety.

The teams will head to Boston for Game 5 of the series Monday before returning to Tampa for Wednesday’s Game 6.

WHAT WENT WRONG FOR THE BRUINS

– The second period couldn’t have ended soon enough. The Lightning completely took control in the period. It could have been worse when the generally steady Andrew Ference nearly saw that happen late in the second when he misplayed a puck in front of Thomas’ net.

– Tomas Kaberle deserved credit for his improved play in Games 2 and 3, but he was soft behind the net on Bergenheim’s game-tying hole. Bergenheim had very little difficulty outmuscling the 33-year-old blueliner to gain possession before beating Thomas. This is the second time a lapse from Kaberle behind his own net has led to a goal in this series.

– A poor showing by the Bruins’ first line, and it was capped with the Gagne goal. Milan Lucic’s turnover set up the play, and Lucic was the only member of his line with a shot on goal through the first 50 minutes of the game. The Lucic – David KrejciNathan Horton trio has been gigantic for the B’s in the postseason many a time, but Saturday was not one of them. Julien played with the lines a bit as the game went on, but it came with no success. Horton redirected a shot from Ference past Smith with 1:50 left while playing on a reconfigured line with Rich Peverley.

WHAT WENT RIGHT FOR THE BRUINS

– If Patrice Bergeron’s return to the Bruins’ lineup on Thursday didn’t make enough noise, he made his importance the B’s known even more with a two first-period goals. The 25-year-old picked Steven Stamkos’ pocket at the blue line with the Lightning on the power play with about two minutes remaining in the first and took it the length of the ice for what would be his second goal of the game and Roloson’ final play. Bergeron now has four goals and 10 assists for 14 points in 13 games this postseason.

– Guy Boucher called Tim Thomas an “enigma” prior to the series, noting that no team could crack the B’s netminder, but in reality, his own goaltender had been even better. Roloson led all playoff goaltenders in goals against average and save percentage through two rounds, but the B’s have now chased Roloson in two of this series’ four games. One would think the B’s would win both of those games, but that’s another story’€¦

– Ryder’s been just as big a part of his line’s success as Tyler Seguin and Chris Kelly have been, and he was rewarded on an odd goal that clearly fooled Roloson. The third-line winger tried a backhander on Roloson that went off the stick of Mike Lundin on its way up, and with Roloson cheating toward the far post, it beat the Lightning netminder in slow motion. Saturday marked the first time Ryder scored without having a two-goal game, as his first four goals this postseason game when he scored twice in Game 4 of the first round and twice in Game 2 vs. Tampa Bay.

Read More: Bruins, Game 4, Lightning,

Bruins/Lightning Game 4 Live Blog

05.21.11 at 1:25 pm ET
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TAMPA — As the Bruins and Lightning square off for Game 4 of the Eastern Conference finals, follow along with DJ Bean, Mike Petraglia and plenty others. Please bear with us, as the internet at St. Pete Times Forum is suboptimal.

Bruins/Lightning Game 4 Live Blog

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Michael Ryder says Game 4 will come down to ‘first 10 minutes’

05.21.11 at 12:24 pm ET
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TAMPA — The Bruins are expecting a big rush from the Lightning at the beginning of Game 4 of the Eastern Conference finals. If they can withstand that, many Bruins feel they’ll have a good chance to win the game and head back to Boston with a chance to clinch on Monday night at TD Garden.

“Definitely excitement, that’s for sure,” Bruins winger Michael Ryder said of the feeling in the dressing room prior to Saturday’s 1:30 p.m. game. “It’s a big game, it could be an even series or up 3-1. It’s the biggest game of the series so far. For us, we have to take that mindset. I think we’re ready to go. It’s all about the first 10 minutes of the [first] period. We have to come out hard, throw pucks in and just get that momentum and take it to them quick.”

On the rare occasion this season the Bruins failed to look energized, it seemed to always come on a Saturday afternoon. Daniel Paille says he’s not exactly worried about that today, considering a win will leave the Bruins one win from the Stanley Cup finals and a chance to clinch Monday night at TD Garden.

“There’s no excuse for that,” Paille said of any energy drain from an early Saturday afternoon start. “I think everyone one of our guys and their guys will provide a lot of energy. If you can’t get up for Game 4 in the conference finals, you’ve got a lot of trouble. I know, myself, I’ll be really energized today.”

Read More: 2011 Stanley Cup Playoffs, Boston Bruins, Daniel Paille, Michael Ryder

Bruins ready for a matinee

05.21.11 at 11:55 am ET
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TAMPA — The last time the Bruins played a day game, they took a 7-3 contest in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference semifinals, the first step of sweeping the Flyers. They will have their earliest start of the postseason with Saturday’s 1:30 Game 4 vs. the Lightning.

“I think we’re glad to get an earlier game,” forward Daniel Paille said Saturday at St. Pete Times Forum. “We’ve played the late games, so we’re happy to get the game started. I know we’re all anxious. We just want to play, and to get our afternoon games again is great to see.”

The Bruins have won eight of their last nine games and are hoping that nothing can disrupt their run. They don’t feel a matinee should be an issue.

“You’ve just got to make sure you go out there for the warmup and get your legs underneath you,” defenseman Johnny Boychuk said. “That’s more or less what it’s all about.”

Read More: 2011 Stanley Cup Playoffs, Daniel Paille, Johnny Boychuk,

Claude Julien still has confidence in a ‘more poised’ Tomas Kaberle

05.20.11 at 8:43 pm ET
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TAMPA — No one in black and gold felt the heat more late in the season and during the first two rounds than Tomas Kaberle. But the Bruins and Claude Julien believe the 33-year-old veteran blueliner has turned a corner – with his confidence.

The Bruins coach knows his players better than anyone and he could see that the defenseman obtained at the trade deadline to bolster a lagging power play was pressing and struggling.

Julien tried everything. He sat him more. He played him more. Finally, last week, Julien took some of the burden off his shoulders by talking to him and letting him know that he and the team still believe he will help the team at critical times and that there was no reason to be putting the struggles of the Bruins power play unit on his shoulders.

It was during Tuesday night’s 6-5 shootout win in Boston that Julien could really start to sense that Kaberle was heeding the message. Ironic that Julien would see Kaberle start to shine in a high-scoring game, of all things. On Thursday, during a more typical 2-0 shutout win, Julien could see the confidence growing in the veteran defenseman as he and Bruins’ D cleared lanes for Tim Thomas to see and stop all 31 shots.

“I don’t know if it was our best but obviously, it was good enough to win a hockey game,” Kaberle said of the Bruins’ team D effort. “And Timmy behind us was playing pretty well and he saw a lot of shots and we spent a lot of time in their end. When we do that we have a good chance to win a hockey game.”

“I think he’s played really well in the last couple of games,” Julien said Friday. “And we had a conversation about maybe taking some pressure off his shoulders about everything that wasn’t going right about the power play. Fingers kept pointing at him.” Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: 2011 Stanley Cup Playoffs, Boston Bruins, NHL, Tampa Bay Lightning

Claude Julien isn’t about to let his team think Stanley Cup finals yet

05.20.11 at 2:55 pm ET
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TAMPA — Despite a dominating defensive perfomance in Game 3 and watching his team record its first shutout of the playoffs, Bruins coach Claude Julien isn’t letting his team think about what could be if they win their next two games. Julien was asked Friday if being two wins away from the team’s first Stanley Cup finals appearance in 21 years provides motivation.

“We don’t even talk about that, honestly,” Julien said. “Right now, all we’ve talked about is how important a game tomorrow is for us. We don’t want to live in the past. Yesterday was yesterday. [Saturday] is what we want to talk about. We want to live in the present. And today is about getting some good rest and making sure that tomorrow we’re well rested, we’ve got the energy and the focus to do a job. That’s what we’ve been doing since the start.

“And that’s what’s helped us get through it. The same thing in Montreal. We lost the first two games. We went to Montreal not thinking about the two losses but what we had to do that night. It’s really helped us get through things, and that’s what our guys are all about right now. So I don’t have to worry about what you just asked, because we’re not thinking that way.”

The players would certainly appear to be heeding the message.

“You can’t take any situation for granted,” Milan Lucic said after Friday’s mainly optional skate at St. Pete Times Forum. “You can’t take any team for granted, and that’s what we’ve done so well. We’ve got to keep being determined to push for more.”

Lucic says there no need for reinforcement of Julien’s message from veterans like Zdeno Chara, Mark Recchi or Tim Thomas.

“At this point, there’s not much you can say,” Lucic added. “You’ve got to know what needs to be done, and when they speak, you can learn a lot from them. They’ve done a great job leading the way so far, and hopefully they keep leading the way and staying vocal and getting us ready for every situation.”

The Bruins play Game 4 against the Lightning Saturday afternoon at 1:30 at St. Pete Times Forum before returning to Boston for Game 5 Monday night in Boston.

Read More: 2011 Stanley Cup Playoffs, Boston Bruins, Claude Julien, Mark Recchi

Claude Julien says David Krejci is ‘fine’ after ‘good hit’ from Marc-Andre Bergeron

05.20.11 at 2:37 pm ET
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TAMPA — Bruins center David Krejci was among those absent from Friday’s practice at St. Pete Times forum. Krejci was crushed by Tampa Bay’s Marc-Andre Bergeron in the neutral zone late in the first period, but returned to play the second and third periods after staying on the bench for the remainder of the first. After practice, coach Claude Julien said that it was simply a day of rest for Krejci, and that his status for Saturady’s Game 4 is not in question.

“David is fine,” Julien said. “We had a bunch of guys with the day off today. It was more of an optional and short skate. There’s no issues with David, and he’s playing tomorrow with no issues at all.”

Bergeron was given a two-minute minor for elbowing on the play, which replays would show was an incorrect call given that it appeared to be a clean hit that featured more shoulder than anything else. Julien had no problem admitting that that’s how he saw it.

“If you have time to look at the replay and look at it in slow motion and do all that stuff, you’re going to say, ‘Well, it was a good hit.’ It’s happened to us before from our end of it, and sometimes you get called for penalties. The one thing that we’ve always said is that the league is very sensitive to head issues, so sometimes they’re making a call.

“Maybe it wasn’t the right call, but at the same time, they could have had a second penalty on that same play where the goaltender touched the puck outside the [trapezoid]. The referee was there, and I think he didn’t call it because he was probably trying to make up for it. This is about being smart with those kind of things, and there were no issues from my end of it. It kind of made up for it, and I think it all evened out in the end.”

Krejci had the team’s game-winning goal when he beat Dwayne Roloson in the first period to make it 1-0 in a game the B’s would win, 2-0, on Thursday. The Czech center leads the Bruins with seven goals this postseason.

Read More: 2011 Stanley Cup Playoffs, Claude Julien, David Krejci, Marc-Andre Bergeron
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