|03.11.11 at 7:41 pm ET|
The Bruins lead the Islanders, 1-0, after a period thanks to Nathan Horton’s 20th goal of the season.
Horton beat Al Montoya by kicking a rebound off a Milan Lucic shot back to himself and firing it in. He now has goals in two straight games and six goals in his last 10.
The Bruins went 0-for-2 on the power play, failing to take advantage of penalties to Justin DiBenedetto and Kyle Okposo. Matt Bartkowski was the only Bruin sent to the sin bin, and a sprawling Tim Thomas came up big for the B’s by stopping an onslaught with Boston shorthanded.
The Islanders outshot the Bruins, 11-8, in the period.
|03.11.11 at 11:59 am ET|
One look at the face of Johnny Boychuk tells you all you need to know about what kind ending is in store for the Bruins in the last month of the regular season.
A fight to the finish to be sure.
While all the focus was on Zdeno Chara and the firestorm of controversy over his hit on Max Pacioretty, Boychuk was playing his first game since suffering quite the shiner below his left eye in a fight with Montreal’s Ryan White a period earlier. Boychuk echoed the sentiment of the Bruins when he said he was happy to see Chara drill Jason Pominville with a clean hit early in the first period.
“He’s not going to change the way he’s going to play,” Boychuk said. “He’s a big man and he’s our team leader. You wouldn’t want him to change his game because I like seeing the physicalness in his game.”
On Thursday, Boychuk and the Bruins found themselves in a different sort of battle – one with the officials.
The Bruins killed off the first four penalties against them but Buffalo capitalized on two of the next three to help erase a 2-0 Bruins lead early.
“It’s kind of tough to give a 60-minute effort when we’re always killing penalties like that,” Boychuk said. “I don’t know if they’re good calls or bad calls but it definitely takes a toll on some guys in the dressing room when you’ve got guys killing penalties all the time. And some of those guys are also play power play so they’re going to be out there more than others and by the end of the game, they’re going to be tired.”
The other concern of late – during the three-game losing streak – is the lack of discipline and focus over 60 minutes.
“I think that we had that when we were on that winning streak,” fellow B’s blueliner Adam McQuaid said. “For the most part we had sixty-minute effort. The last few games there have been very highs and very lows, so I think the biggest thing is to get back to that sixty- minute effort.”
Seven different minor penalties were called on the B’s, including two with the Bruins already a man down that created 5-on-3 chances for the Sabres. The Bruins killed off the first but weren’t so lucky the second time in the third period as the Sabres tied the game and won it in overtime.
Boychuk knew going into the game with the Sabres Thursday night that they would be facing a desperate team.
“We did play them in the playoffs last year and they’re fighting for their playoff spot so we didn’t expect them to roll over and die on us,” Boychuk said.
That will be the same approach the Bruins can expect from just about every team they play from here on out.
Even the Islanders, who are out of the playoff picture in the East, could play spoiler when they take on the Bruins tonight in Nassau County on Long Island.
Before dropping their third straight Thursday, the Bruins started their seven-game win streak against the Islanders on Feb. 17 on Long Island.
“Might as well start another one,” Boychuk said. “Why not?”
|03.10.11 at 11:27 pm ET|
On Wednesday night, Pacioretty said he was ‘disgusted’ that Chara wasn’t fined or suspended for the hit on Tuesday night that gave him a severe concussion and broke a vertebrae in his back.
Then Thursday, Pacioretty showed his support of a fellow NHL combatant by publicly denouncing any effort by Montreal authorities to criminally prosecute Chara for a hit that happened in the course of a game.
Following Thursday’s 4-3 overtime loss to the Sabres, Chara said he was relieved to be back playing and appreciated the words earlier in the day from Pacioretty.
“It’s obviously a nice gesture,” Chara said. “It’s something that, for sure, shouldn’t go that far. It’s something, like I said, very unfortuante. I keep repeating that. You feel bad about it. You don’t want to see anybody get hurt and especially, in that case, upper body, and most likely, neck and head.”
Word came on Thursday that Montreal authorities plan an investigation to determine whether criminal charges should be brought against Chara, whose hit into the turnbuckle at center ice gave Pacioretty a severe concussion and fractured a vertabrae in his back.
“We all feel bad about it,” Chara said. “It doesn’t matter, rivalry or no rivalry, we all want to see the guy recover and obviously, I’m going to try and reach out to him and talk to him either over the phone or try to see him in person. But I totally understand and respect that now he probably needs time and space and to be around his closest family. I’m sure when the time is right, I’ll probably reach out and talk and somehow connect.”
For Chara, he was just glad to be back on the ice, focusing on hockey, not hearings.
“That’s obviously one of those things I’d love to do,” Chara said. “Playing hockey is obviously my most important thing. To be on the ice that’s for sure the most important.”
It was a home crowd that chanted his name during his first shift in the opening minute.
“For sure, it’s something I very much appreciated and I’m very thankful for that. It feels for sure great to be home and to get that support from the fans,” he added.
He even showed in the first period that he’s not going to change his physical play because of Tuesday when he drilled Jason Pominville into the corner boards on a very clean but hard hit.
“I don’t see any reason to change my game or my style of play,” Chara said. “I’m going to continue to play physical and play hard. That’s my game and I don’t see any reason to change.”
|03.10.11 at 9:48 pm ET|
A couple of players with Boston ties burned the B’s in overtime, as former Bruin Brad Boyes took a pass from BC product Nathan Gerbe to beat Tim Thomas for a 4-3 Sabres win with 1:16 remaining.
Zdeno Chara, who has been a popular topic of discussion in the last two days, had two assists for the B’s, who have now gone three games without a win (0-1-2).
The Sabres received their regulation scoring from Tyler Ennis, Thomas Vanek and Tim Connolly. Goaltender Ryan Miller made 42 saves in the victory.
The Bruins will follow Thursday’s loss by heading to Long Island for a bout with the Islanders.
WHAT WENT WRONG FOR THE BRUINS
– The Sabres had two separate two-man advantages on the night, and the B’s were only able to kill off the first one, which lasted 30 seconds in the second period.
The second one proved more challenging. With Mark Recchi already in the box for high-sticking, Brad Marchand was the victim of a bad (and late) tripping call. The Sabres had 1:44 of a 5-on-3 to deal with, and Tim Connolly put home a rebound with 20 seconds remaining on Recchi’s penalty.
The Sabres would go 2-for-7 on the power play on the night, as Vanek’s goal came with Johnny Boychuk in the box in the second period.
– The Bruins blew a two different leads, one of which was of two-gaol variety. With the B’s leading, 2-0, in the second, Ennis scored just 27 seconds after Recchi’s goal, and Vanek made it a tie game about eight minutes later. Less than minutes after Campbell gave the Bruins a 3-2 lead, Connolly returned the game to a tie.
– The B’s had just seven shots on goal in both the second and third periods after having 15 in the first. Shots on goal can be an overrated statistic at times, but its easy to blow leads when you’re not getting pucks to the net.
– While Chara’s production was strong in the game, he was the recipient of a very questionable boarding call on Steve Montador. What will this mean to the criminal investigation?
WHAT WENT RIGHT FOR THE BRUINS
– The David Krejci line remains red hot. Both Milan Lucic and Krejci have 13 points in their last 10 games, as well as four-game point-streaks. Horton, meanwhile, has five goals in his last nine games. The Bruins will need their top line producing like this come the playoffs, so their stellar play and production over the last few weeks is a very good sign.
– It was a good debut production-wise for the new line of Recchi, Chris Kelly and Michael Ryder. Recchi scored his first goal in nine games, a tally that was assisted by Ryder, but that Chara largely set up with an aggressive pinch down low.
– Timely scoring from Gregory Campbell this season, as he came up big back in November to send the game vs. the Blues to overtime. The Merlot Line center’s 10th of the season was a big one as well, as it gave the B’s the lead in the third.
|03.10.11 at 8:44 pm ET|
The Bruins gave up a two-goal lead in the second period, and they head to the third period tied with the Sabres, 2-2.
The Sabres would tie the game on a Thomas Vanek power-play goal. Tim Thomas made the initial save, but in trying to make sure he had it secured saw it slowly glide into the net.
There were five minor penalties between the two teams in the period, with the B’s killing off a 5-on-3. There were two fights in the final minutes of the period, as Adam McQuaid fought an even bout with Paul Gaustad, while Milan Lucic fought Cody McCormick for McCormick’s second fight of the night.
Zdeno Chara was called for a debatable boarding call, as he shoved Steve Montador in the circle and saw the momentum take his former teammate into the boards after the spill.
The Sabres are outshooting the B’s, 33-22.
|03.10.11 at 7:42 pm ET|
Horton scored his 19th over the year at 8:54, finishing a 3-on-2 with Milan Lucic and Krejci getting the assists. The play came about thanks to nice work by Adam McQuaid in breaking it out of the Bruins’ zone.
The period featured a fight between Gregory Campbell and Cody McCormick, with the Sabres forward winning the bought. Each team had power plays that lasted just seconds, as Tyler Myers went to the box for tripping just five seconds after Shawn Thornton went off for interference.
Tim Thomas had an impressive period, making big saves on Jordon Leopold and Jason Pominville, the latter of which he made by quickly sliding from side to side to rob the Bruins killer (eight points in five games vs. Boston this season).
The B’s are outshooting the Sabres, 15-11.
|03.10.11 at 1:06 pm ET|
Bruins coach Claude Julien said Thursday that Andrew Ference, who has skated the past two days after missing the last five games with a lower-body injury, is getting closer to a return to the Bruins’ lineup and could play as soon as Tuesday.
“Depending on how he does here in the next few days,” Julien said, “I wouldn’t exclude him from the game in Columbus.”
Both Ference and Steven Kampfer will not travel with the B’s when the team goes to Long Island on Friday. Kampfer, out with a concussion, said he is “back to square one” after suffering a headache Wednesday night. He had ridden the stationary bike for 15 minutes earlier in the day Wednesday, doing so for the first time.