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Bruins cannot hold leads, fall to Maple Leafs

03.09.10 at 9:42 pm ET
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Summary – Without two of their biggest stars the Bruins struggled to put the Maple Leafs away on Tuesday and ultimately fell to Toronto 4-3 in overtime. Nikolai Kulemin had the game-winner for the Leafs with 49-seconds left in the extra frame. Tim Thomas started for the Bruins and took the decision with 26 saves. The Leafs went with Jonas Gustavsson who was shaky but effective in stopping 26 of shots in the winning effort.

Bruins’ captain Zdeno Chara was scratched for the game with a lower body injury. Center Marc Savard missed his first game after sustaining a grade two concussion after a hit from Pittsburgh’s Matt Cooke on Sunday.

Mark Recchi scored his 13th goal of the year in the first period when he caught the rebound off a Dennis Seidenberg shot from the point and banged it back into the net with Gustavsson out of position to the left of the crease. The Bruins killed three penalties in the period (one a 50-second 5-on-3) to stymy the Leafs chances heading into the second period.

The Leafs tied it in the middle of the second when Wayne Primeau found himself on an odd-man rush and beat Thomas five hole for Toronto’s first strike of the game. Boston went back ahead with on the power play during a two-man advantage when Dennis Wideman hit a slap shot from the point that deflected off Recchi’s stick straight on to that of Marco Sturm who banged it passed Gustavsson to make it 2-1 at the 13:49.

Once again, it would not last.

The Leafs Carl Gunnarsson broke back with his second goal of the season on a shot from the top of the circle that deflected off a Bruins’ player to make its way through Thomas to send send the game to the third tied at two.

The back and forth theme continued in the third. Patrice Bergeron scored a go-ahead goal on a rebound early in the period only to watch the Leafs come back when Luca Caputi swept a bouncing puck passed Thomas at 7:13. It was the third time in the game the Bruins went ahead by a goal only to have the Leafs tie it.

Three Stars

Mark Recchi — The veteran forward had a goal and two assists to help pace the Bruins.

Luke Schenn — The Leafs defenseman picked up two assists to give him 10 for the season.

Marco Sturm — Sturm scored his team-high 20th of the season and added an assist. It is the seventh time in his career that Sturm has registered a 20-goal season.

Turning Point — Caputi battled in the crease with Thomas and Boston defenseman Mark Stuart for a loose puck seven minutes into the third period. Thomas could not corral the bouncing puck and Stuart was a step to slow in trying to clear it and Caputi swept back into the play to push it passed Thomas and tie the game at three.

Key Play — Toronto center Mikhail Grabovski raced down the left wing in overtime and had enough time and space to pick out Kulemin on a parallel rush down the center towards Thomas. Grabovski made a good pass, Kulemin took a step to his left and beat Thomas for the game winner.

Read More: Jonas Gustavsson, Marco Sturm, Mark Recchi, Nikolai Kulemin

Second period summary: Bruins-Leafs

03.09.10 at 8:34 pm ET
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The Bruins keep banging on the Leafs and are trying to push in the offensive zone but, like it has been all year, goals are hard to come by. Toronto goaltender Jonas Gustavsson has not been spectacular but he has been good enough against Boston’s anemic attack to keep the Leafs in the game.

All the effort in the offensive zone puts extra pressure on Bruins’ goaltender Tim Thomas and it came back to bite them when Wayne Primeau found himself on and odd-man break in the middle of the period. Primeau blasted from the right wing and it beat Thomas five hole to tie the game at one at 10:34.

But the Bruins got it back. After killing off a 5-on-3 in the first period, Boston got a two-man advantage of its own when Jeff Finger (holding) and Luke Schenn (delay of game) went to the penalty box. The Bruins had 25 seconds to score but only used 13 when Dennis Wideman hit a shot from the point that deflected off Mark Recchi’s stick straight on to that of Marco Sturm who put it away to put Boston on top once again. The score was Sturm’s team-leading 20th of the year, the seventh 20-goal season of the year.

The Leafs came back at the end of the period when Carl Gunnarsson hit a shot from the top of the circle that directed off a Bruins’ player through traffic that was enough to beat Thomas and tie the game heading into the third.

Shots through second (total):

Bruins — 11 (21)

Leafs — 8 (13)

Read More: Dennis Wideman, Marco Sturm, Mark Recchi,

First period summary: Bruins-Leafs

03.09.10 at 7:40 pm ET
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Without two of their best players the Bruins look . . .

Pretty good.

The forecheck looks good, the penalty kill is clicking right along and even the offense chipped in.

Boston is without Marc Savard (concussion) and Zdeno Chara (lower body injury) but so far it has controlled the pace and tempo against the Maple Leafs in Toronto. Granted, the Leafs have the second-to-last record in the league, but positive signs are encouraging nonetheless.

Mark Recchi Patrice Bergeron got the Bruins offense going right off the bat. Dennis Seidenberg hit a heavy slap shot from the point that banged off of Leafs’ goaltender Jonas Gustavsson chest protector directly back in front of the net while Gustavvsson was pulled to the left of the crease leaving the net wide open for Recchi to come in and sweep the puck in for the early lead at 2:47.

Boston then gave the Leafs a great chance to get that goal back when first Blake Wheeler (hooking) then Mark Stuart (tripping) went to the penalty box to give Toronto a 50-second two-man advantage. The Bruins have the best penalty kill in the league but without Zdeno Chara for the game (lower body injury), penalties could be problematic.

Or not.

The Maple Leafs only managed one official shot with the two consecutive penalties and the Bruins recovered to dominate the on both ends of the ice throughout the period.

Boston gave the Leafs another opportunity on the power play when Milan Lucic went for hooking at 16:14 but the Bruins were able to kill it. Toronto is now 0-17 on the man-advantage against Boston this season.

Shots through the first period:

Boston — 10

Toronto — 5

UPDATE — There has been a scoring change and Patrice Bergeron will get credit for the goal as opposed to Recchi. Both players were right in front to bang on it and got to the puck at the same time. Recchi picks up an assist.

Read More: Blake Wheeler, Dennis Seidenberg, Mark Recchi, Mark Stuart

Milbury on D&H: Suspension unlikely for Cooke

03.09.10 at 12:09 pm ET
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Mike Milbury was disappointed by the Bruins' lack of a response to the check that injured Marc Savard on Sunday in Pittsburgh. (AP)

Mike Milbury was disappointed by the Bruins' lack of a response to the check that injured Marc Savard on Sunday in Pittsburgh. (AP)

NESN analyst Mike Milbury was a guest of the Dale & Holley show Tuesday morning to talk about the Bruins and the Marc Savard controversy (listen to the interview here). Asked whether Penguins forward Matt Cooke should be suspended for his hit to the head that gave Savard a concussion, Milbury said he need to take another look at the play, but: “Given the rules of the game today, I don’t think it’s a suspendable offense.”

Milbury offered an explanation and defense for Cooke. Said Milbury: “The word predatory does come to mind. And you know, I don’t have any trouble with that. When you’re playing hockey, you’re supposed to finish your checks. I don’t think he meant to give him a Grade 2 concussion. That’s Matt Cooke’s game. He’s supposed to be a guy that finishes his checks, that agitates a little bit, that can play a little bit of hockey. He’s not a slug, But he’s no Sidney Crosby. His job is to make sure he punishes people when he gets the opportunity. Intent to injure? I don’t know. That’s a hard one to pin on anybody. Certainly, ready to finish his check with authority.”

Milbury said the Bruins’ lack of a response after the check was disheartening. “Your best offensive player goes down with a resounding check — borderline check under any circumstances, maybe cheap, maybe intentional. It requires a direct response immediately,” he said, adding. “I blame the players who were on the ice at that time. You have to take accountability for the guys who are on the ice. … The guys that are there have to recognize that there’s been a code violation, if you will. … They should have gone right after the perpetrator or even gone after anyone else that was on the ice to rattle the cage. You can’t be taken advantage of that way. The players on the ice have to look in the mirror after this is over and say, ‘Dammit, we should have done something. We should have done it right away.’ And the coach has to back them up on that.”

However, Milbury cautioned about overreacting. “I think we got caught up here in Grapes [Don Cherry] mania. Like, you’ve got to die in order to satisfy the blood lust in the stands,” he said. “That’s not my schtick.” The former B’s coach said he was disgusted to hear people saying the Bruins should have attempted to cause a serious injury to Pittsburgh’s star players in retaliation. “That’s just ridiculous,” he said. “Are we that demented? Is that the way we have to approach this sport? I don’t think so.” Added Milbury: “To say that because your best player went down you have to immediately turn around and go after vigilante justice is Neanderthal. We’ve got to get past that.”

Added Milbury: “I think they should have had a quick and immediate response, especially to go after Cooke and then continue to play the damn game with the kind of authority that they should have gone into the game playing with. That’s my point. But to think we have to go back to, ‘They hurt one of our best players, so now we’re going to go take out Evgeni Malkin and Sidney Crosby by giving them cheap shots in the back of the head,’ that’s Philadelphia Flyers hockey in the ’70s. We’re past that. We should be past that, and if we ever revert to that, it’s the day I stop watching the damn game. Because that isn’t right. It’s just not right.”

Asked whether captain Zdeno Chara needs to be more of a physical presence for the Bruins, Milbury said: “Because he’s 6-foot-8, we’re asking him to be 30 minutes a game, fight, physical — we’re asking a lot of this guy. And last year he delivered. But it doesn’t come naturally to him. He’s got to force it. But the team needs him to be more physical, yes. They need him to occasionally fight.”

Asked whether the Bruins are too soft, Milbury said yes. “They played a much more physical game last year up and down the roster,” he said. “And I think when they do find their way back to it, they’ll be a better team offensively.”

Bruins road win streak halted by Penguins

03.07.10 at 5:40 pm ET
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Summary — For the last time ever in the regular season the Bruins travelled to Pittsburgh to play in Mellon Arena against the Penguins and came away  losers by a 2-1 score in a Sunday matinee. Tim Thomas got his third straight start for Boston and took the loss with 27 of saves. The Penguins Marc-Andre Fleury took the decision with 15  stops. The loss snaps the Bruins five-game road winning streak.

The Penguins jumped all over Boston in the third but Thomas stood tall in the losing effort after getting peppered through most of the period. Thomas did give up the game-winner early in the final frame to superstar Evgeni Malkin on a dump shot through a screen down the right wing.

After a scoreless first period the Bruins struck first on the power play when Blake Wheeler was able to sweep a loose puck out from under Fleury at 3:12 in the second. The Penguins came back about five minutes later when Pascal Dupuis put the puck in a scrum in the crease in front of Thomas and banged on it until it trickled passed for the equalizer at 8:57.

Bruins’ center Marc Savard took a hit and elbow to the head late in the third period by Penguins’ forward Matt Cooke. He was carted off the ice on a stretcher. No word on the type or severity of the injury but a concussion would seem likely. Cooke was not issued a penalty for the hit.

Patrice Bergeron played his first game since the Olympic break after sitting the previous three with a groin injury. Tuukka Rask is still listed as day-to-day with a minor knee injury and did not dress.

Three Stars

Marc-Andre Fleury — The Penguins goaltender picked up his 31st win of the year with steady play and a solid defensive effort in front of him.

Evgeni Malkin — The “other” superstar in Pittsburgh scored the go-ahead goal for his 23rd strike of the year early in the third period.

Blake Wheeler — The sophomore forward scored the first goal of the game for only his second strike in 17 games when he tallied on the power play in the second period. The goal was his 14th of the year.

Turning Point — The start of the third period was where the Penguins turned on the heat. Malkin scored the go-ahead goal early in the period and the Bruins could not slow Pittsburgh down the rest of the game as the Penguins dominated the positional play in the final frame.

Key Play – The Penguins new addition of Alexei Ponikarovsky at Wednesday’s trade deadline paid dividends in the third period. Malkin came down the right wing on the rush and threw a dump shot on Thomas that passed through a moving screen by Ponikarovsky on its way to the back of the net. Pittsburgh turned on the heat after that and pressured the Bruins for the rest of the third on its way to the victory.

Read More: Blake Wheeler, Evgeni Malkin, Marc Savard, Marc-Andre Fleury

Second period summary: Bruins-Penguins

03.07.10 at 4:35 pm ET
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With the Penguins handing the Bruins multiple opportunities with penalties, it was just a matter of time before Boston broke through.

Evgeni Malkin won the dubious distinction of being the man who committed the penalty (hooking – 2:15) that helped get the Bruins on the board. David Krejci put the puck in the crease and banged on it to the point that Marc-Andre Fleury fell flat on his stomach though not quite on top of the puck. Blake Wheeler then snuck in and swept the puck out from under the goaltender for his 14th goal of the season that gave Boston a 1-0 lead at 3:12.

The Penguins came back in 5-0n-5 at 8:57 in a similar scenario to Wheeler’s goal. Pascal Dupuis swept around the goal only to be semi-stuffed by Tim Thomas but the forward stayed on the puck and it trickled passed Thomas to tie the game at one apiece.

Michael Ryder took a slashing penalty at 3:43 in the period but Boston was able to kill it off. In the middle of the period the teams played two-minutes of 4-on-4 as Ruslan Fedotenko and Mark Stuart got in a tangle in the crease in front of Thomas that led to matching roughing penalties.

Shots in period (total):

Boston — 8 (11)

Pittsburgh — 11 (21)

Read More: Blake Wheeler, Evgeni Malkin, Marc-Andre Fleury, Michael Ryder

First period summary: Bruins-Penguins

03.07.10 at 3:45 pm ET
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Tim Thomas got his third straight start for the Bruins as Tuukka Rask is still listed as day-to-day with a knee injury he suffered last Tuesday against Montreal. Thomas has a tough task against the explosive and deep Penguins who feature Evgeni Malkin and Sidney Crosby and Jordan Staal down the center positions. Thomas has been up to the task so far with 10 saves in a scoreless period.

The Bruins got the first power play opportunity at 5:29 on a tripping call to Brooks Orpik but could not convert. The Penguins gave Boston another chance at 11:05 on a high-stick by Mark Eaton but the Bruins could not even muster a shot against the aggressive penalty kill. The Bruins are now 2-11 on the man-advantage since the Olympic break. Pittsburgh has been killed all 12 shorthand scenarios it has faced in the same period.

A third penalty in the period was called against Ruslan Fedotenko at 18:42 and the Bruins will start on the man-advantage for the first 42-seconds of the second period.

Through it all Boston only has three shots on goal and have not seriously threatened Penguins’ goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury.

Patrice Bergeron is back in action for Boston after missing the first three games after the Olympic break with a groin injury

Scoreless after one at Mellon Arena.

Shots on goal:

Bruins — 3

Penguins — 10

Read More: Brooks Orpik, Mark Eaton, Ruslan Fedotenko, Tim Thomas
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