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Ryder and Bruins jump on Lightning

02.11.10 at 8:29 pm ET
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The Bruins have not been able to score four goals in a game for a while. Let alone four in a period.

The Bruins took a first period lead when Miroslav Satan beat Antero Niittymaki with helpers from Derek Morris and Marc Savard at 4:24. Satan took advantage of  defenseless Lightning defenseman Victor Hedman who had lost his stick up the ice and was unable to support Niittymaki in front of the net. The Bruins have scored the first goal in five straight games dating back to last Tuesday against the Capitals. That streak includes four straight 2-0 leads starting last Thursday against Montreal.

Make it five.

Milan Lucic gave the Bruins the two-goal advantage at 11:21 when he may (or may not have) tipped a Michael Ryder shot from the point that was just enough to make it passed Niitmaki. Ryder’s shot went through both Lucic and Lightning defenseman Matt Smaby and it was not clear if Lucic actually got a stick on it though it definitely touched Smaby. At this point the officials are crediting Lucic with the goal, his fourth of the year.

Ryder would make up for it on one of the nicest looking goals of the year when he went give-and-go with Blake Wheeler in front of Niittymaki. Ryder had a backhand pass to Wheeler on the dot who returned it immediately for the easy one-timer into the net. Ryder followed the puck and climbed out of the goal with a fist pump and a three goal lead.

Ryder would make it 4-0 1:35 later on the power play (Steve Downie four-minute roughing 16:41). Savard skated from the left half wall and put a wrist shot on Niittymaki that the goaltender deflected to the back wall. It bounced back up for Ryder who deposited it in the top corner for the Bruins first four goal game in about a month. Ryder now has 15 goals on the year.

The Lightning would not get a shot on Rask for the final 13 minutes of the period and the Bruins head to the locker room with a sizable shots margin.

Shot through first:

Bruins — 21

Lightning — 13

Read More: Antero Niittymaki, Michael Ryder, Milan Lucic, Miroslav Satan

Bruins look to cool Lightning

02.11.10 at 11:14 am ET
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The Bruins know the recipe that will take to climb back into solid playoff contention — goal scorers doing their job, streaky shooting and a hot goaltender to carry the load. It is an easy formula that can propel a team on long streaks that eventually lead to extended spring hockey.

For an example, the Bruins only need to look across to the other bench on Thursday to the Lightning. Tampa Bay has won four in a row and is 10-1-2 in its last 13 games to pull itself out of the Eastern Conference basement to be tied for the seventh and eighth playoff spots with Philadelphia. With 63 points the Lightning stand two ahead of the ninth-place Bruins.

Antero Niittymaki is on fire. The Tampa goaltender is 7-0-1 in his last eight games with a 1.09 goals against average and a .965 save percentage. Thought Tuukka Rask was playing well for the Bruins? Rask is 2-0-2 on his current point streak and and his 2.01 goals against for the season is second in the NHL but Niittymaki has been the best goaltender in the NHL over the last month.

On the offensive end, the Lightning have been putting up some points behind Steve Stamkos and Martin St. Louis. The duo has propelled Tampa over the last nine games, scoring 16 of its last 22 goals. Stamkos in particular looks impressive. The first overall pick in the 2008 draft already has 33 goals through 58 games this year and another 30 assists on top of that. For a second year player to be able to put up those kind of numbers makes scouts heads turn and gives the denizens of the Tampa area dreams of a superstar in the St. Petersburg Times Forum for years to come. Stamkos has five goals in his last five games.

St. Louis, the wily veteran southpaw forward, also has five goals in the last five games and has 20 goals and 46 assists for the season. His six game-winning goals are good for fifth in the NHL.

Look for Bruins captain Zdeno Chara to be near every time that Stamkos touches a skate to the ice at the Forum on Thursday. Yet, the fun does not stop there. The Lightning are deep with threats on their first two lines with Vincent LeCavalier, Ryan Malone and Alex Tanguay all in the mix. LeCavalier is third on the team in points with 55 (15 goals, 40 assists) and Malone has 21 goals to trail only Stamkos in that department. For a comparison, the lowly Bruins offense has no player with more than 36 points (Patrice Bergeron) or 18 goals (Marco Sturm).

If the Bruins want to really get back into the mess that is the Eastern Conference playoff race, they will have to win games against the teams ahead of them and right now that means cooling down the Lightning. If Boston can claim a regulation two-point victory (something it has only done twice since Jan. 5) it will create a three-way tie for the final spot in the conference and set the Bruins up to rise above the demarcation line if they can claim points against the Panthers on Saturday.

Read More: Antero Niittymaki, Martin St. Louis, Steve Stamkos, Tampa Bay Lightning

A look back at the Recchi deadline deal

02.11.10 at 9:56 am ET
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The trade rumors are flying thick across the NHL. Will Peter Chiarelli trade Tim Thomas? Does the general manager make a move for a move’€™s sake to shake things up? Whatever happens during the Olympic break, there will be no shortage of ink spilled what may, or may not, happen by the March 3 deadline.

The Bruins are in Tampa for Thursday’€™s game against the Lightning and it is worth taking a look at last year’s deadline deal that brought a Lightning player to Boston to spark the Bruins during the stretch run.

That player, of course, is veteran forward Mark Recchi.

Chiarelli brought Recchi and a 2010 second round pick to Boston last year for prospect forward Martins Karsums and defenseman Matt Lashoff.

Recchi was a cannonball for the Bruins through 18 regular season games last year. He had 10 goals and six assists down the stretch and provided a good model for the young players on the roster as he played smart with the puck and had the experience and timing to camp out in from of the goal and create chances on just about every shift. When asked about the nature of Recchi’€™s game heading into the playoffs former Bruins defenseman Aaron Ward laughed and said, ‘€œwhat can you say? He’€™s the ‘€˜Recch-ing Ball.’€™’€

Recchi added another three goals and three assists in the Bruins 11 playoff games even though it was reported that he was dealing with kidney stones towards the end of the playoff series against Carolina.

This season Recchi is not setting the world on fire with 11 goals and 18 assists through 58 games but is productive enough to justify putting him on the third line with Patrice Bergeron and (usually) Daniel Paille. At $1.7 million cap hit Recchi is not a drain on the Bruins salary cap and his stability during a season that has seen Milan Lucic and Marc Savard miss significant time with injuries has been a boon to the Boston roster.

Given Recchi’€™s production, was it worth giving up the two prospects and a draft pick for a year-and-a-quarter of the veteran’€™s presence?

Indisputably, the answer is yes.

The consensus at the time of the trade was that Lashoff, once the top blue liner in the Bruins system, had been jumped on the depth chart by Matt Hunwick and would soon be eclipsed by Johnny Boychuk. The thinking proved prescient as both Hunwick and Boychuk are reasonably productive members of Boston’€™s defensive corps and Lashoff is languishing in the AHL with the Norfolk Admirals.

Even on that level Lashoff has not performed well with five goals and eight assists for 13 points and an astonishing plus/minus of -20 through 46 games. Throw in 63 penalty minutes and it does not look like Lashoff will be breaking down the door in Tampa in the foreseeable future.

Karsums has been disappointing as well. Through 36 games with Norfolk he tallied four goals and 12 assists and a plus/minus of 1. On Jan. 14 he was assigned from Norfolk to HC MVD Balashikha of the Kontinental Hockey League. So, now that Karsums is plying his wares in Russia, a return to the NHL anytime soon does not look likely. Good news for the forward? He was named to Team Latvia for the upcoming Olympic games.

The bonus is the second round draft pick this summer. With the Lightning’s pick the Bruins have picks to burn through the next two years. If you consider Lashoff and Karsums extra pieces from the Bruins organization that were essentially a wash then the ability to bring in Recchi and a draft pick looks like a steal in both the short term and the long term.

UPDATE — The commenter is right. The 2010 second round draft pick indeed does go to the Bruins and not the other way around. The story has been changed accordingly.

Read More: Mark Recchi, Martins Karsums, Matt Lashoff, Tampa Bay Lightning

NHL Power Rankings 2/10

02.10.10 at 12:11 am ET
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The snow and the wins keep piling up in Washington, as the Capitals remain atop the WEEI NHL Power Rankings:

1. (1) 41-12-6 More magic from Alex Ovechkin Sunday helped the Capitals extend their winning streak to 14 games. Next up, Montreal on Wednesday.

2. (2) 39-11-9 The Sharks open a six-game road trip with three straight wins. Yeah, it’s a good thing they’re not coming to Boston.

3. (3) 39-15-5 After dropping two in a row, the Blackhawks get back in winning form with two straight victories, including a 4-3 shootout win over Dallas Tuesday.

4. (6 ) 36-20-3 The Kings had a franchise-best nine-game winning streak snapped with a loss in Anaheim Monday. “It was a nice run, a very nice run,” coach Terry Murray said. Things are looking real good in LA.

5. (8) 36-19-5 Raise your hand if you think the Coyotes were the natural opponent for the Bruins to play in Prague opening next season? It makes sense, right?

6. (4) 36-20-2 After winning the Ilya Kovalchuk sweepstakes, the Devils should be a whole lot more fun to watch.

7. (7) 35-21-2 Five games into a record-setting 14-game road trip, the Canucks are 2-3 after a 3-1 loss in Tampa Bay Tuesday.

8. (10) 33-19-6 Leading scorer Paul Stastny ended a six-game goal-scoring drought with a tally Monday, helping the Avalanche beat St. Louis, 5-2.

9 . (9) 35-22-2 After Sunday’s high-tempo contest, we can only hope that the Penguins and Capitals square off in the playoffs again

10. (11) 34-22-4 The Senators had their impressive 11-game winning streak halted by Jean-Sebastien Giguere and the Maple Leafs Saturday, but they have served notice they are in the fight for the Northeast Division title.

11. (5) 32-18-8  Tuesday’s shootout loss to the Bruins was the fifth straight defeat for the Sabres.

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Bruins win second in a row in shootout

02.09.10 at 10:08 pm ET
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Summary ‘€” Daniel Paille scored two first period goals for the Bruins at Buffalo on Tuesday at HSBC Arena, but the Sabres came back with two second-period goals to tie the game before Boston won the game 3-2 on a David Krejci score in a sudden-death shootout. Ryan Miller took the loss with 32 saves, while Tuukka Rask was the winner for Boston with 43 saves. It was Rask’s fourth straight start for the Bruins, and he has been able to get a point for Boston in all four with a 2-0-2 record.

Paille netted the first of the game at 4:51 when he scored on a wraparound against Miller to give the Bruins the early lead. Paille would strike again at 11:58 in the period when he crossed the crease in front of Miller to tip a slap shot from Zdeno Chara at the point for the two-goal advantage.

The lead would not last, as the Sabres came out strong in the second period and turn a lot of pucks over in the neutral zone. The first goal in the comeback came courtesy of Buffalo center Derek Roy with a wrist shot that beat Rask at 4:35 in the second on a 5-on-3 power play. Dynamic Sabres rookie defenseman Tyler Myers would tie it at 18:35 with a wrist shot from the blue line that surprised Rask just enough to beat him on the glove side.

Three Stars

Daniel Paillle ‘€” Acquired on Oct. 20 in the first ever trade between the Bruins and Sabres, the speedy forward came back to haunt his former team with two first period goals to give him nine on the year for the Bruins.

Tuukka Rask — The Bruins goaltender had a career-high 43 saves and made three stops in the shootout to give the Bruins consecutive wins and points in their last four games.

David Krejci — Krejci had the game-deciding goal in the shootout as he crossed in front of Miller and buried the puck to give Boston the two-point victory.

Turning Point

The Sabres comeback came in the second period courtesy of the power play. Milan Lucic went for hooking penalty at 2:54 and was joined by Steve Begin for a hook at 3:46 to set up 1:08 of 5-on-3 for Buffalo. Sabres coach Lindy Ruff took a timeout with his team down two goals to talk about the situation and was rewarded when Roy found time and space in front of Rask and put a wrist shot passed the young goaltender for Buffalo’s first goal of the game. The Sabres would play well from there on out to complete the comeback and gain a point.

Key Play

Miller came up big in overtime to stop the Bruins and send the game to the shootout. Early in the extra frame the Bruins had a great chance when Marco Sturm and Matt Hunwick had a 2-on-1 in front of Miller. Sturm crossed to Hunwick who let go of a one-timer that Miller crossed the crease to make a kick save off his pads and send the puck into the corner. Krejci had the game-deciding goal in the shootout that was tied at one after the first three rounds off of goals by Marco Sturm and Jason Pominville.

Read More: Daniel Paille, David Krejci, Ryan Miller, Tuukka Rask

Sabres claw back to tie it in second

02.09.10 at 8:49 pm ET
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It was a wild first five minutes of the second period in Buffalo. The Sabres came out with more aggression than they showed in the first which was immediately evident when their captain, Craig Rivet, decided it was time to throw down with Bruins enforcer Shawn Thornton at 2:54. The fight started at the same time that a penalty whistle was blown to send Bruins forward Milan Lucic to the box for a hooking call. The Sabres were then given a golden chance to get back into the game when Steve Begin took a holding penalty 54-seconds later to give Buffalo 1:08 of 5-on-3 hockey at 3:46.

The Sabres would not need all of it to get on the board. At 4:35 Buffalo center Derek Roy found himself in the middle slot facing down Tuukka Rask with time and space. Roy let go a wily wrist shot that beat Rask glove side to cut the Bruins lead to 2-1.

Boston got its first chance on the power play when Paul Gaustad tried to throw down with Zdeno Chara at 9:52. The towering Bruins captain cannot fight though because he tore most of the ligaments in his pinky the first time the Bruins played in Buffalo on Nov. 20. The finger looks pretty ugly as it is bent at a 90-degree angle and Chara has to wear a split on it during practice and games. Per NHL rules, a player cannot fight with any outside material on his hands, hence Chara cannot fight for fear of a suspension or injuring the finger more seriously than it already is. Gaustad went to the box for a two-minute unsportsmanlike yet the Bruins could not break down Ryan Miller’s door.

With the Sabres putting steady pressure on the Bruins through the period, Boston’s best chance came near the 18:30 mark when the puck got loose in the crease in front of Ryan Miller. Boston forward Mark Recchi dove for it but it was cleared and skipped through the neutral zone off the center wall to defenseman Tyler Myers. Bruins defenseman Adam McQuaid missed on the loose puck and  Myers picked it up and let go of a sneaky wrist shot that surprised Rask on his glove side the Buffalo tied the game at two at 18:35.

Shots through second period (total):

Bruins — 11 (22).

Sabres — 14 (31).

Read More: Derek Roy, Paul Gaustad, Ryan Miller, Tuukka Rask

Paille nets two in first period against former team

02.09.10 at 7:55 pm ET
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The Bruins look a lot crisper than the Sabres in the first period at HSBC Arena in Buffalo. Boston is taking advantage of a plethora of Sabres turnovers to put pressure on star goaltender Ryan Miller and take a 2-0 lead into the second period. It is the fourth straight game where Boston has held a 2-0 lead and the Bruins are 1-0-2 in those games.

Daniel Paille is comfortable playing in Buffalo. The Sabres drafted him in the first round of the 2002 draft (20th overall) and he made his NHL debut with them in the 2005-06 season and played 195 career games with 35 goals before being traded to the Bruins on Oct. 20 for a third and a conditional fourth round picks. Paille beat Miller by picking the puck up in the trapezoid and wrapping it around at 4:51 for the early Bruins advantage.

Then he did it again.

Paille started the sequence by digging the puck out of the corner and cycling it back around the net to Derek Morris who crossed it across the blue line to captain Zdeno Chara. The big defenseman wound up and fired a shot towards Miller. Paille, who cycled along with the puck, crossed in front of Miller at the same time as the puck and got a piece of it for his second goal of the period that gave the Bruins a 2-0 lead.

Tuukka Rask has blanked the Sabres through the first. Buffalo has generated shots but not a lot of chances.

Shots through first period:

Boston — 11

Buffalo — 17

Read More: Daniel Paille, Marc Savard, Ryan Miller, Zdeno Chara
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