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Fortunate bounce off Wideman gives Caps a 3-2 lead

02.28.09 at 2:57 pm ET
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17:40: Power play score for Thomas Fleischmann — with David Krejci off for hooking — as he carried the puck in the corner and flipped it toward the front of the net. The biscuit bounced off Dennis Wideman’s left skate and ricocheted right past Tim Thomas.

15:30: Two great saves on a breakaway bid by Eric Fehr, with Thomas closing up the pads on the initial five hole attempt, and then dropping into a butterful fly split to kick away the rebound attempt. I shudder to think what would happen if I attempted a move like that.

12:45: Great shift for the Krejci/Wheeler/Ryder line, which has really bounced back to midseason form. Krejci hit the left post with a shot from all alone in the slot with a wide open net on the first attempt, and then flipped it just over the crossbar on a rebound of a Blake Wheeler bid just seconds later. The effort did draw a cross-checking penalty from Washington’s Matt Bradley.

10:58: Great individual PK work by Alexander Semin allows him to break in for a one man rush, and induces Dennis Wideman into a hooking penalty that wipes out Boston’s PP and will put the electric Capitals power play unit back on the ice.

8:58: The Black and Gold did everything but score on their powe play attempt. Chuck Kobasew, Patrice Bergeron, Dennis Wideman among others had great scoring bids, the Theodore and collapsing Caps PK were able to withstand the barrage.

5:08: An interference call on Nicklas Backstrom amidst some heavy Bruins pressure will give the Black and Gold at least one more PP attempt while still down a goal.

4:37: A great shot fake and then dish from Patrice Bergeron at the high point set up a Zdeno Chara blast from the left faceoff circle that beat Theodore on the short side. A big power play strike for the B’s in the waning moments. The timely goal is the 100th of Big Z’s career.

The Capitals and Bruins are tied at 3-3 with 3:20 left to go in the third period of an excellent playoff-atmosphere style game at the TD Banknorth Garden.

B’s and Caps tied at 2-2 after the second period

02.28.09 at 2:04 pm ET
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17:45 great sprawling save by Tim Thomas in the opening minutes of the second period as Washington sniper Alex Semin waltzed through the traffic in front and fired a forehand bid.

14:20: solid back to back pad saves by Thomas after a nifty Ovechkin pass — a skill that is highly underrated in the Russian superstar’s game — freed Victor Kozlov in the high slot, and the big center took two shots at the Boston cage. Thomas blocked the first one and then smothered Kozlov’s rebound attempt.

11:12: For the 45th time this season, Alex Ovechkin fired up the red lamp when he fired a sizzling wrist shot past Tim Thomas to give the Caps a 2-1 lead.

9:06: The B’s stormed right back when Marc Savard — with a Capitals defender draped all over him — found a wide open Phil Kessel by the right faceoff circle, and Kessel flipped a shot through Jose Theodore’s five home to tie things up. The goal is Kessel’s 26th of the season and his second in his last four games.

7:23: Two great saves by Theodore, as he stoned Patrice Bergeron on a one-time attempt from P.J. Axelsson and then blocked Bergeron’s backhanded rebound attempt.

7:00: Breakaway attempt for Caps center Brooks Laich, but Thomas closed up the pads and stoned his bid to tuck the puck between Timmy the goalie man’s pads.

00:25: Shawn Thornton was denied on a rebound attempt from the slot that hopped right onto his stick. Another solid game for Boston’s fourth line against Washington today.

The B’s and Caps are tied 2-2 after two full periods of hockey in a potential Eastern Conference final matcup between the two best teams in the East.

Everything that Claude touches is magic, magic, magic

02.28.09 at 1:29 pm ET
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The Capitals struck first on a Nicklas Backstrom power play goal, but B’s coach Claude Julien’s decision to move Matt Hunwick from defenseman to forward and place him in injured Milan Lucic’s spot on the top line paid immediate dividends for the Black and Gold. Hunwick took a pass from Marc Savard behind the net and jammed the puck through Jose Theodore’s pads to tie things up.

The B’s and Caps are tied at 1-1 with 6:09 to go in the first period before a packed house at the Garden, where the faithful have decided to boo Alex Ovechkin every time he touches the puck. Good times.

Lucic out, Savard in against Capitals this afternoon

02.28.09 at 1:24 pm ET
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Bruins left winger Milan Lucic is out for the Bruins during this afternoon’s matinee against the Washington Capitals at the TD Banknorth Garden. Lucic sustained an upper body injury during a fight with the Anaheim DucksMike Brown on Thursday night, and defenseman Matt Hunwick has move up to the forward spot to take his place in the lineup.

Marc Savard, who also questionable for this afternoon’s tilt, is playing for the Black and Gold against the Capitals despite also suffering the dreaded “upper body injury”.

Vladimir Sobotka called back up to Boston

02.27.09 at 4:56 pm ET
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 With Marc Savard and Milan Lucic both questionable for Saturday afternoon’s tilt against the Washington Capitals, the Bruins recalled forward Vladimir Sobotka from the Providence Bruins on an emergency basis and placed Petteri Nokelainen on injured reserve this afternoon.

The move seems to be an indication that Lucic or Savard, or perhaps both, will be out of the lineup tomorrow afternoon, and Sobotka is expected to be available for Saturday’€™s game against the Washington Capitals at 1:00 p.m. Lucic had a bruised and bloodied right hand following a brawl that escalated once Looch got popped in the chin by Mike Brown before he could throw his gloves off.

Lucic promptly went berserk on Brown and his hand looked, to put it in medical terms, pretty messed up after the passionate beatdown. Savard took several hard hits from the physical Ducks bunch during Thursday night’s game, and the dynamic first line center could be dealing with a shoulder injury.

 Sobotka has played in 23 games for Boston during the 2008-2009 season and recorded 1-3=4 totals.

Nokelainen was scheduled to meet with doctors today and was hoping to be cleared for contact in practice, but it’s unclear whether his placement on IR was strictly a move to free up a roster spot or an indication that his injury isn’t healed enough for the next step. Out since Feb. 10 after getting a high stick in his right eye, Nokelainen will be out of game action through a March 5 tilt against the Phoenix Coyotes per terms of injured reserve that require he be out for at least 10 games or 30 days of action.

Read More: Boston Bruins, Marc Savard, Milan Lucic, Petteri Nokelainen

Black and Gold regain their groove against not-so-mighty Ducks

02.26.09 at 11:48 pm ET
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The Bruins found their rugged, rough-and-tumble, tough-to-play-against team personality amid a fight-filled grudge match with Sean Avery and the Dallas Stars at the Garden way back on Nov. 1.

There were musclebound sentences and breathy paragraphs devoted to the return of the Big, Bad Bruins, and tributes were penned to a squad that had finally once again captured the imagination of a dormant hockey franchise’s loyal followers.

Like any real fiery pique of puck passion, however, the emotion and tenacity proved difficult to maintain at its highest levels throughout the ebb and flow of a long season. The Black and Gold might have lost their way momentarily in the middle of the grinding 82-game seasonal gauntlet, but the Big, Bad B’s clearly regained their groove by both shedding the gloves and lighting the lamp in a 6-0 thrashing of the Anaheim Ducks at the Garden Thursday night.

The sweet combination of brawling and Bruins is the holy hockey alliance that baptized this particular team before a frenzied Boston hockey crowd back on that night in November. It should also be the galvanizing force that allows the Bruins to finish out the schedule’s final 20 games with the thunderous force of a big “Looch” body check.

The skilled and shifty forwards were flying up the frozen sheet with a quick, fastbreak-style outlet and transition game reminiscent of the first four months of the season. The forwards, in turn, enjoyed engaged and aggressive play from the defenseman hopping up into the play with the kind of symbiotic support that marked the first few months of the season.

Matt Hunwick showed the telltale controlled, timely aggression when he kicked it into turbo and beat Mike Brown to a loose puck in the offensive zone and rifled a high wrist shot past Jean-Sebastien Giguere to give Boston their first score. The goal kicked off a two point night for Hunwick in his first game back after a quick one-game refresher with the Providence Bruins ‘€” a move made necessary when the young defenseman had suited up only three times since late January.

It was just another of example of things going right again for the Spoked B after enduring a period where they simply didn’t work hard enough for the bounces. After a sluggish few weeks, the Bruins renewed their commitment to jumping in front of the net and working the oft-dangerous corners for loose pucks, and again the fists were flying when teams began taking too many physical liberties on the ice.

“We’re not there yet (completely) where we want to be, but we’re certainly moving in the right direction,” said B’s coach Claude Julien. “We’ve scored 12 goals in the last couple of games, and I think, overall, our game has started to come back. But we need to be hard on ourselves in order to have our game where we want it to be ‘€” and not get satisfied.

“We talked about putting some emotion in our game when we were sliding a little bit,” he added. “We weren’t finishing our checks, we didn’t play with the same kind of emotion and we obviously weren’t scoring much. I think putting some emotion in the game, and putting some jam and grit into it allowed us to score some goals as well. Both are great for our team right now.”

It might have come at a short term price as both Milan Lucic and Marc Savard ‘€” two of the three players that dropped the gloves in the donnybrook-filled victory ‘€” didn’t return after the second-period fisticuffs with what Julien described as “upper body injuries.” But it was a jolting reminder to the Ducks players, the 17,565 in attendance and to, yes, even the assembled media contingent that the current Bruins team ‘€” with or without the benefit of a deadline deal ‘€” is going to be a handful to play against as long as they’re properly motivated and playing with furious passion and gusto.

“We have to go back to the game we played before. If you’re up in a game after one or two periods then you’ve got to go out there and show a killer instinct. Don’t sit back,” said Bruins center David Krejci, who notched an assist and a +3 on the night and had himself a great hockey game. “That’s our team. That’s how we play and who we are. We’re a tough team to play against.”

Savard hadn’t dropped the gloves or thrown a punch in anger since that fateful game when Avery crunched Lucic from behind, and it’s no coincidence that the playmaking center again hopped into the fray in another character building win for B’s. Shawn Thornton started things off with Anaheim tough guy George Parros early in the second period, and Lucic followed with a fists of rage act against Ducks forward Mike Brown after getting jumped by half the Anaheim team.

Savard and Scott Niedermayer followed with a rare scuffle for each of them ‘€” a go-round that was actually called roughing on both players ‘€” and Thornton was left to wonder what would have happened had the B’s truly indulged their nasty side and released the “monster from the cage.”

“We’ve got a tough team here obviously,” Thornton said. “You look around the room and we’re not going to get pushed around here by anybody. We didn’t get the monster, [Zdeno Chara] wasn’t even involved. We didn’t let him out of the cage. Guys stand up for each other. We have a close locker room and we’ll go to bat for each other. So, that’s not ever going to change.”

Injury Ward: Both Lucic and Savard tangled with Ducks players in second-period fights, and then didn’t return to the ice again following their respective scraps. Julien termed both “upper body injuries” that will be evaluated on Friday.

Player of the Game: Michael Ryder was greatly missed when he was out of the lineup with multiple facial fractures, and has totaled 3 goals and 2 assists in two games since returning to the Bruins lineup. Ryder’s ability to finish around the net and his physical style are two things that the B’s badly need from him on a nightly basis. Last night he delivered. Tim Thomas earns a nod as well for stopping 35 shots en route to the shutout, including a handful of stunning stops in the first 35 minutes of the game.

Goat Horns: Look across the board at all of Anaheim’s best players, including Giguere. With the Ducks on the outside of the playoff picture, they all played horribly in an important game. For a team with so much talent and Stanley Cup experience, they looked completely lost Thursday night.

Turning Point: Steve Montador and Parros each took penalties in the closing minutes of the second period, and both Ryder and Chuck Kobasew cashed in on power play goals that pushed the game out of reach. The Ducks seemed to lose their composure a bit following the Looch’s Incredible Hulk act in the second period ‘€” a predictable reaction after getting jumped by a pair of Ducks skaters in front of Anaheim’s net.

Bruins take a 6-0 lead on Bitz’s third in two games

02.26.09 at 9:29 pm ET
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Byron  Bitz capped things off with a great individual rush down the right side that ended with the big rookie roofing a shot past Jonas Hiller to make it a 6-0 blowout. It’s been a relatively conflict-free third period, and the B’s lead 6-0 with 2:30 to go

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