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Bruins cannot hold off Sabres stampede

03.29.10 at 9:27 pm ET
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Summary — The Bruins could not hold back the Sabres’ stampede in a 3-2 loss Monday night at TD Garden. Ryan Miller got the win for Buffalo with 40 saves while Tim Thomas took the loss by allowing three goals on 13 shots before getting pulled for Tuukka Rask in the second period.

The Bruins had a chance early in the first period when Marco Sturm took a pass from Patrice Bergeron through the neutral zone with a step on Craig Rivet for a breakaway. Rivet hooked Sturm, and the three of them went crashing into the net, with Sturm being awarded a penalty shot. But Miller stuffed Sturm at 3:20 to shut down a key opportunity.

David Krejci continued his great play of late as he extended his point streak to four games when he schooled Miller at 7:43 in the first. Krejci found himself with space in front of the net and circled Miller to almost the goal line before putting the puck off the goaltender’s skate for the first goal of the game.

The Sabres came back with two unanswered strikes in the period, both of which deflected off some part of Bruins defenseman Dennis Wideman on the way past Thomas. The first came on a shot from the point by Tyler Myers that went through Wideman’s arms for the redirection at 9:56 to tie the game. The Sabres then went up a goal a few minutes later when Paul Gaustad picked up a rebound n the slot and backhanded it towards the net, sending it off Wideman’s skate in the process to make it 2-1.

Buffalo made it a two-goal game at 6:40 in the second when Tim Kennedy took a shot from the corner of the crease that hit Thomas in the chest but rebounded into the crease where it slipped across the goal line. That was the night for Thomas, as coach Claude Julien sent in Rask for the reigning Vezina Trophy winner.

Boston made it a one-goal game at 14:23 in the third period when Dennis Seidenberg pulled up on the rush and rocketed a slap shot from the point on Miller that the goaltender could not contain as it popped off his pads, over his shoulder and into the goal.

Three Stars

Ryan Miller — The starting goaltender for the USA Olympic team bested his backup by a fair margin in making 40 stops en route to his 38th win of the year.

Tyler Myers — The defenseman scored the Sabres’ first goal of the game and assisted on the second.

David Krejci — The Bruins center continued his hot play by scoring the first goal of the game and has a four-game point streak with three goals and four assists for seven points in that span.

Turning Point — One time could be a fluke but twice makes a trend, one that the Bruins would have been happy to avoid. The second goal that went off Wideman past Thomas came off of Gaustad’s backhander at 9:56 in the first. The ire of the fans will go to Wideman but the goal was set up after a shot from Myers that Thomas let slip into the slot, where the Sabres center was waiting.

Key Play — The weak goal was what did Thomas in. Kennedy had a point-blank opportunity on Thomas but did not have the angle to beat the goaltender. Thomas, however, ended up beating himself as he bobbled the rebound and let it slip behind him into the net. That giveaway brought Rask from the bench to the crease to take over the net-minding responsibilities.

Read More: Dennis Seidenberg, Dennis Wideman, Paul Gaustad, Ryan Miller

Second period summary: Bruins vs. Sabres

03.29.10 at 8:42 pm ET
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One game after recording his fifth shutout of the season and his 17th career, Tim Thomas was pulled after allowing his third goal on just 14 shots. It was the sixth time this season he has been lifted from a game.

The off night for Thomas has put the Bruins in a 3-1 hole after two periods.

Thomas allowed a soft wrister from Tim Kennedy at 6:08 and he came off the ice, made his way down the tunnel, swinging his goalie stick in frustration. He remained away from the bench for about five minutes before returning.

In fairness to Thomas, he was again let down by his defense who had trouble clearing bodies. Tuukka Rask was tested late in the period as breakdowns continued to thwart the B’s.

Jason Pominville had a short-handed breakaway with just 63 seconds left in the second period as the Bruins, desperate for some energy from their power play, pinched early and left Pominville alone in the neutral zone.

Boos rained down on the Bruins, who will begin the final period with 13 seconds of power play.

Each team had 14 shots on net in the second, with Boston holding a 28-25 advantage after 40 minutes.

Read More: Bruins, NHL, Ryan Miller, Sabres

First period summary: Bruins vs. Sabres

03.29.10 at 7:48 pm ET
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A good start but rough finished has left the Bruins trailing the Sabres, 2-1, after 20 minutes at TD Garden.

The Bruins were buzzing around Buffalo goalie Ryan Miller for the first 10 minutes, resulting in several quality chances, a penalty shot and eventually rewarded with a pretty goal from David Krejci at 7:43.

Moments earlier, Marco Sturm broke in on a quick rush and was hooked from behind by Craig Rivet. Sturm was awarded a penalty shot but his shot – a routine backhander – was stopped easily by Miller.

Following the Krejci goal, a switch seemed to go on for the Sabres as they applied pressure on Thomas and controlled the final half of the period. Tyler Myers threw a soft shot from the right point through a heavy screen in front of Thomas to tie the game two minutes after the Krejci goal.

Then Paul Gaustad gave the Sabres the lead with a backhander that seemed to fool Thomas and put Buffalo up, 2-1, just 80 seconds later.

Boston outshot the Sabres, 14-11, in the period.

Read More: Bruins, David Krejci, NHL, Sabres

Bruins look to sustain momentum versus Sabres

03.29.10 at 12:14 pm ET
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The Bruins will host Ryan Miller and the Sabres Monday night at TD Garden as they try to continue the push to make the playoffs. Boston currently holds the eighth spot in the Eastern Conference, two points behind both Philadelphia and Montreal and two points ahead Atlanta. Blake Wheeler said it best this morning after the morning skate “one bad night and we could be in ninth.”

Buffalo, as a divisional opponent, is a team that the Bruins are familiar with and one of the only teams ahead of them in the standings that they can claim any significant success against. In the first four matches of the series this year the Boston is 3-1 against the Sabres and have outscored them 11-4. The Sabres have a five point lead on Ottawa for the division title and are only two points behind Pittsburgh for the No. 2 seed in the conference.

“You are playing the top team in our division, you are playing against a pretty good goaltender who has been good for them all year, a big key to their success” coach Claude Julien said. “A team, I think, over the course of the season that we have played very well. Again, these are big games for every team right now. They are trying to move up, not just in the division but in the conference. It is going to be a tough game tonight but we are up to it. I think our team understands the important-cy of every game and it is something we have to shown every night from here on in.”

Keeping the energy up and the skates moving has been a key for the Bruins this year. The bottom line is that any momentum that the Bruins generate is dependent on their compete level coming out of the gate.

“The effort the last four games has been pretty consistent so I think the guys are pretty happy,” forward Shawn Thornton said. “Come with energy, I suppose. It has to be from the drop of the puck. Can’t wait. You have to carry [the momentum], I don’t know the exact formula but we have to do it.”

“He has done some really good things and there are some things that we have wanted him to get better at,” Julien said. “I think he is a very willing individual and wanting to get better and showing signs of a guy who wants to improve in the areas we want him to.”

Andrew Ference will not play tonight as he continues to battle a hernia/groin injury that will require off-season surgery.

“We continue to get him checked out. Hopefully by the end of the day we will be a little clearer on his status,” Julien said.

With Ference out, Matt Hunwick will take his spot on the blue line. Hunwick has not had the best of sophomore seasons with a team high plus/minus of -16 for the year.

“He has done some really good things and there are some things that we have wanted him to get better at,” Julien said. “I think he is a very willing individual and wanting to get better and showing signs of a guy who wants to improve in the areas we want him to.”

Hunwick’s younger brother, Shawn, was the goaltender for the Michigan hockey team that lost on Sunday night to Miami of Ohio in the regional finals before the Frozen Four. He made 32 saves but the RedHawks topped the Wolverines in double overtime. Matt said that he watched the game and had not talked to his brother but had sent him a text.

“I told him to keep his head up and that he played really well,” Hunwick said. “He was one of the reasons they got to the tournament and do so well down the stretch … There is not too much to say, sent him a text and told him to keep up.”

Tim Thomas was the first goaltender off the ice  this morning which is a good indication that he will be the starter tonight.

Read More: Andrew Ference, Claude Julien, Matt Hunwick, Ryan Miller

Thomas: Easy does it

03.27.10 at 9:15 pm ET
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Everyone in Bruins black and gold knew Tim Thomas hadn’t played much in the last two weeks.

And, after watching video, every Bruin knew what the Calgary Flames wanted to do on Saturday. The Flames figured if they could crash the net they could eventually get to – and frustrate – the Bruins goalie.

So when push came to shove on Saturday, the Bruins and Thomas were ready.

Thomas stopped all 31 shots he faced in leading the Bruins to a 5-0 cakewalk over the Flames at TD Garden.

“Timmy hasn’€™t played in a while and obviously, he is a very competitive guy and it’€™s great to see him out come here and play a good game for us,” said Mark Recchi, one of five different goal-scorers for Boston on Saturday.

“It’€™s nice when you have two goaltenders you can really count on and Timmy has been here for a number of years and has done a great job and it was great to see him. Tuukka [Rask] carried the load for a little bit and did a wonderful and it’€™s nice when you pull him and don’€™t miss a beat because Timmy does a great job.”

Thomas had started in goal exactly once in the last eight games, losing a 3-2 decision to New Jersey on March 15.

“That was like my fifth full game in like seven weeks,” Thomas said of Saturday’s return to action. “I played periods, but not [a full game]. So I didn’€™t really know what to expect, but the team came out strong in front of me. They did a really good job of making me feel comfortable and that helped a lot.”

And when the Flames took a pair of goalie interference calls in the second period, Thomas and the Bruins were ready.

“Well that’€™s what they do,” Thomas said. “We actually saw that in the video before the game. That’€™s what they do so you’€™re prepared for it. I’€™m just not going to change the way that I play. That’€™s the worst thing you can do, because they’€™ll get goals off of it, if you change the way that you play. You have to put yourself in vulnerable positions sometimes and that’€™s what kind of happened on that one play.”

Thanks to the win, the Bruins tied Philadelphia with 80 in seventh place in the East while dropping Calgary further into a ninth-place hole behind Detroit in the West.

“They were behind the eight ball more than us,” Thomas said. “At this point we were sitting in the playoff spot before this game. So really, especially after that last they had against the Islanders, we knew that they must really be feeling the pressure. Part of our game plan was to be the relaxed team, be the team that relaxes and plays and has fun and hopefully good things come of it, and it worked.”

Read More: Bruins, Flames, NHL, Tim Thomas

Bruin’s shutout extinguishes Flames

03.27.10 at 3:33 pm ET
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Summary — The Bruins found their stroke on Saturday with a 5-0 victory over Calgary at a sold out matinee game at TD Garden. Tim Thomas got the start and the win with his fifth shutout of the year by stopping 31 shots. Miikka Kiprusoff took the loss for the Flames by allowing five goals on 29 shots before giving way to backup Vesa Toskala in the third period.

Boston broke out of its power play funk in a big way after entering the game on an 0-for-22 streak with its last man-advantage  goal coming on a Marco Sturm strike against the Maple Leafs on March 9. Dennis Seidenberg got the credit for snapping the streak at 14:08 in the first period after a Craig Conroy hooking call when he hit a one-timer from the high slot that had eyes to the top of the net for a 1-0 Bruins lead.

In the second period Boston had its way on the power play again. Conroy went back to the box for hooking at :31 which set up David Krejci for a wrist shot from the left circle at 1:29 that got through traffic and beat Kiprusoff high. Zdeno Chara got in on the mix after Rene Bourque took a goaltender interference call when he  plowed through Thomas at 4:34. Chara activated on the next series and took a feed from Krejci in the slot in front of Kiprusoff with enough time and space to choose the location of his wrist shot, high over the stick-side shoulder for the 3-0 lead.

Patrice Bergeron recorded his 17th goal of the season at 4:24 in the third period when he used Conroy as a deflector shield with a shot from the goal line that he put off the center’s knees to beat Kiprusoff. Mark Recchi would match Bergeron with his 17th of the year 1:31 later at 5:51 when he dove for a Sturm rebound to beat Kiprusoff and end the netminder’s night as Toskala came in to replace him.

Bruins’ defenseman Johnny Boychuk received a five-minute elbowing major and a game misconduct at 7:21 in the third when he went in for a hit on in the corner against Rene Bourque with his forearm/elbow raised high enough to catch the Flames’ forward flush across the face.

Three Stars

David Krejci — The center has been on fire of late with eight points (three goals, five assists) in his last five games. Scored the second power play goal and helped set up the third.

Zdeno Chara — The captain had his first multi-point game since a three-point effort on Dec. 23 against Atlanta with a power play goal and an assist. Chara now has six multi-point games for the season.

Tim Thomas — The reigning Vezina Trophey winner was solid for Boston in picking up his 16th win of the year with his fifth shutout.

Turning Point — Chara’s goal was the one that sent the Bruins on their way to a victory without looking back over their shoulders for pursuing Flames. He was set up on the power play by Milan Lucic and Krejci to the point where he could skate down the slot with space straight at Kiprusoff and pick his target for the 3-0 lead.

Key Play — Seidenberg’s strike in the first period broke what was basically and 0-for-March power play for the Bruins. He combined with to make Team Dennis with fellow defenseman Dennis Wideman as they shuffled the puck along the point in the first period to the point that Seidenberg had enough space to pull off a one-timer from the high slot at 14:08 that was heavy and had eyes to the back of the net.

Read More: David Krejci, Dennis Seidenberg, Johnny Boychuk, Mark Recchi

Second period summary: Bruins vs. Flames

03.27.10 at 2:39 pm ET
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Apparently, the Bruins wanted to show Marc Savard they can score on the man advantage – even with their best power play weapon out with a serious concussion.

Savard said before the game he wished he could help them on the power play and general manager Peter Chiarelli smiled a painful smile in agreement since the Bruins entered play Saturday mired in a hideous 0-for-22 slump.

Well, after Dennis Seidenberg finally found the net in the first period, the Bruins doubled their pleasure in the second to take a 3-0 lead heading into the second intermission.

David Krejci fired a rocket from the low left point 89 seconds into the period to make it 2-0 and Zdeno Chara scored on the man advantage from the high slot at 6:15 and all of sudden the Bruins were 3-for-3 on the PP.

They had a chance to make it 4-for-4 toward the end of the period but had to settle for a hat trick. And settle they did with a smile of satisfaction heading to the dressing room.

The Flames are outshooting the Bruins, 23-22, but Tim Thomas has been perfect so far.

Read More: Bruins, Chara, Flames, Krejci
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