Archive for February, 2009

Bergeron, Stuart key Bruins 2-1 lead over Panthers

Tuesday, February 24th, 2009

First period scores by Patrice Bergeron and Mark Stuart have staked the Bruin out to a 2-1 lead against a Florida Panthers team that is again giving the Bruins all they can handle at the TD Banknorth Garden. Kamil Kreps got one back for the Panthers at the 13:34 mark of the first to cut the lead in half.

The B’s still hold on to the 2-1 lead over the Panthers at the 7:49 mark of the second period.

Matt Hunwick, Vladimir Sobotka sent down to Providence

Tuesday, February 24th, 2009

Rookie defenseman Matt Hunwick and forward Vladimir Sobotka, both healthy scratches in Sunday’s game against Tampa Bay, were sent down to the Providence Bruins on Tuesday morning.

Hunwick and Sobotka will both play in Providence’s game tonight, and Hunwick is expected to be called back up to Boston on Wednesday to rejoin the team. Hunwick has only played one game during the month of February, and hasn’t played since Feb. 7 against the Philadelphia Flyers. The B’s were looking for a spark from both David Krejci and Vladimir Sobotka when they put the two forwards together for a series of games, but his play didn’t warrant him staying with Michael Ryder returning to the lineup.

Here’s the official release from the Bruins:

Boston Bruins General Manager Peter Chiarelli announced today that the club has assigned defenseman Matt Hunwick and forward Vladimir Sobotka to the Providence Bruins (American Hockey League). Both are expected to play in Providence’s game tonight against the Manchester Monarchs at 7:00 p.m. ET, while Hunwick is expected to be recalled and rejoin the Boston Bruins on Wednesday.

Hunwick saw action in 38 games this year for Boston and has recorded 3-12=15 totals and a +9 plus/minus rating. He was a healthy scratch in the Bruins’ last six games. Hunwick appeared in two games for the P-Bruins this season, registering two assists.

Spending the majority of the 2007-2008 season in Providence, Hunwick posted 2-21-23 totals in 55 games.  He was recalled to Boston on four separate occasions last year and tallied one assist in 13 games.  The University of Michigan graduate was drafted by the Bruins in the seventh round (224th overall) in the 2004 NHL Entry Draft.

Sobotka has played in 23 games for Boston during the 2008-2009 season and recorded 1-3=4 totals. In 25 games with the P-Bruins this year, Sobotka tallied 12 goals and 15 assists. He split the 2007-2008 season between Boston and Providence. With Boston, he saw action in 48 regular season games and contributed one goal and six assists and added two goals in six postseason games. With Providence last year, he had 10-10=20 totals in 18 regular season games and added four assists over six postseason games.

Sobotka was originally drafted by the Bruins in the 4th round (106th overall) in the 2005 NHL Entry Draft.

The Bruins begin a six-game homestand when they host the Florida Panthers tonight, February 24, at 7:00 p.m. ET at the TD Banknorth Garden.

Fans interested in learning more about Boston Bruins players, or ticket options, should visit the team website at www.bostonbruins.com or call 617.624.BEAR.

Peter Chiarelli looking to make a deal for Bruins

Monday, February 23rd, 2009

The NHL held a series of conference calls this afternoon in advance of the March 4 trade deadline, and Bruins GM Peter Chiarelli was among the quarter on board to discuss potential deadline deals. Chiarelli was consistent with the message he’s been floating out there all along: he’d love some kind of size up front, he’s leaning more toward rental players but could move for something bigger if it’s “the real deal”, and he doesn’t want to mess with the current team chemistry or his impressive core of young talent. 

Q. The Bruins have had such a great season so far. With the deadline coming up, there’s a saying, “If it’s not broke, don’t fix it.” Are you guys planning on improving your team going into the deadline? PETER CHIARELLI: We’re going to try. Last year we looked an at some deals and we decided they weren’t worth messing with the chemistry. That certainly will be in the equation this year. Certainly I would like to add a couple things if I can. 

Again, you know, the races are so tight now. As of this time, there’s not a lot happening. There’s a lot of discussion, but not a lot happening. We’ll see how the next few days unfold.

Q. If teams like Washington and New Jersey go out and make some moves to improve their teams, would that prompt you to possibly react and do the same? PETER CHIARELLI: Well, it certainly, you know, I’m not going to change our stance as we approach the deadline. We’ve got a relatively short list of players that we’re looking at. We know we’re in competition with other teams to get those players. 

So as that list shortens and we’re not getting any of these players, it’s only natural we’d try and step up our efforts. We look at our list more than we look at our competitors.

Q. What are the current plans for Manny Fernandez? Have teams expressed their interest in him?PETER CHIARELLI:I’m not going to comment on our players vis-a-vis trade discussions. What I can say, is I’m happy with our goaltending duo right now. I think it’s a position of strength as we go forward into the playoffs.

Q. While you’re pondering how you want to approach this year’s trade deadline, and you talked about team chemistry, what do you debate or think about when you think about chemistry and obviously not wanting to disrupt it? PETER CHIARELLI: Well, part of it is deciding if you have to subtract to add, if it means taking away a significant piece, or any piece for that matter, you really have to really look at it and think about it long did and hard if you want to do it.

You have to weigh the piece, the player or players that you’re moving out and the player or players that you’re moving in. I guess part of that is the blend of experience. You want to make sure if you’re adding to either the experience or youth, more likely experience, I mean, you have to look that ratio.

Really, it’s the significance of the player that you’re adding, and is it worth what you’re giving up in the long run. You talk to your coaching staff at length about the room and how these players will interact and how they will react. These players all want to win and be part of a winning team. Your have look at it very carefully.

Q. Do you find yourself going back and forth on the chemistry issue on the day, and maybe on some days thinking, Let’s just get the best player available and deal with whatever chemistry issues might arise? PETER CHIARELLI: You have to be careful there. We went through that in Ottawa where we thought we were getting the best player ? and we were ? and it just didn’t fit in the mix of things.

You have to be careful, you know, let’s just add a player. You have to be very careful. It may take away from roles of other players on and off the ice that may be detrimental. So there’s a lot more than just what the player brings on the ice that we look at and discuss. You have to be very sensitive to that.

Q. Is there an example with Boston or Ottawa where chemistry played a part in your decision and the player fit in quite nicely? PETER CHIARELLI:I can’t think of one off the top of my head. I do remember one deal that we played that wasn’t a deadline deal. Certainly the Hossa (ph) deal had a lot to do with chemistry, and really not so much the salary cap, but budgetary reasons at the time. It ended up working out. We gave up a really good player for another really good player. I remember talking about the chemistry in that sense.

There have been some cases where things didn’t work out in Ottawa. The one that comes to mind was Peter Bondra. We just couldn’t get him in the right fit in the lineup. That’s why I say you have to be careful just adding the best player. 

Q. How much do you weigh going for the Cup this season with the long-term health of the franchise? PETER CHIARELLI: Well, I’ve talked about windows. In the salary cap system, you have your windows come and go fairly quickly. Having said that, we have a pretty strong, young foundation. You know, as much as you want to seize the opportunity and as much as our market demands it, I’m more apt to be patient and not to pick apart the young foundation we have. 

It’s tempting, and certainly it’s something that we look at long and hard, especially since there are some players out there that can give you immediate impact in certain situations.

So it’s our job to balance that. Understand also that we have young players that may never see our lineup or won’t fit into our lineup that are good players. You have to recognize those players and use them as chips in any future deals.

Q. And you talked about chemistry a few minutes ago. With regards to that, would you be more apt to acquire a player that you or your coaching staff have had before? PETER CHIARELLI: Any more information you can get on a player is helpful. We’ve got a whole list a sources, whether they’re our scouts or coaching staff or whatever, that we look to to gather information on these players.

If there’s a player that one of our coach staff or scouting staff have had, certainly that will be in their favor. It’ll probably look to, you know, making the decision a lot easier. 

It’s certainly something we take into consideration. 

Q. I know it might be a little bit difficult to generalize, but in your experience, how long does it take most deadline deals to get done? The things that happen on deadline day, are they generally talked about and in the works now, or is it a lot of quick decisions in the last day or two? PETER CHIARELLI: In my experience in both Ottawa and here in Boston, they have been in the works at least a month. There’s minor tinkering. There’s kind moments to do it and then pulling back. There’s discussions with ownership, philosophical discussions.

So I think you have the basis of a deal, whether it’s an offer or an offer and a counteroffer maybe a month or two before. You just got to try and hammer it down and close it. They’re hard to close because there’s a lot of interests that are flying around, and you want to try and bring them all in line.

Q. I guess part of that is that other teams could be involved and it’s almost like a chain effect, too. PETER CHIARELLI: Yeah, there’s a domino effect and then there’s the other team’s involvement if they up an offer at the last minute. It kind of throws it askew. 

A lot of it is timing. We do a lot preparation in advance, and all GMs do, in advance of these trading deadlines that go back at least a couple months to pro meetings and subsequent meetings and scouting reports. So these deals that happen at the last minute, those are dangerous ones.

Q. So from your perspective then, do you then generally target a few guys or have a list of guys that you might be interested in and then you work off that list? PETER CHIARELLI: Yeah, and we do that for in the summer for the free agents also. You have an interest list of needs. It might be twenty players. Throughout the course of time, for example for this deadline, you narrow them down by whether they’re possible to attain. After viewings from your scouting staff you eliminate guys and you work your way down to a workable list.

That may be one player and it may be three players. Then you try and do a deal for one of those players.

Q. Your team is struggling maybe really for the first time all year. I’m wondering, does that color at all what you’d like to acquire or how much you might want to do in the next week? PETER CHIARELLI: Well, it hasn’t changed our approach. We’re at some point going to struggle, and we were prepared for it. Part of is it the young guys hitting a bit of a wall. They look like they’re coming out a if a bit. It’s part of a long year.

Our approach and strategy hasn’t changed with respect to the deadline. It just goes ?? the players of interest to us are still of interest to us, and we’re still pursuing those players.

Q. About a week ago when you guys were about ready to play against San Jose, you mentioned a segment of the schedule which was really difficult. You had some New Jersey meetings and Washington and things like that, top teams and bigger physical teams. How has that factored in? PETER CHIARELLI: I think that actually ended with the New Jersey game. I kind a liked our New Jersey game. We lost, I think it was 1-0, but I like the way we came out of it. For the most part in that mix, and I think the Washington, New Jersey, Rangers, Montreal, Philly, Ottawa is in there, I think I didn’t mind how we played in that stretch.

The stretch after that against teams that maybe weren’t as high as those others teams in the rankings we haven’t played as well. But I didn’t mind our play. I think we responded okay. I think I said I’d like to add some size in our lineup in the midst of that stretch, and that’s still a priority for us. 

Q. Looking ahead to the summer free agency period, do you expect to see more or fewer lucrative long-term contracts, especially for veterans? PETER CHIARELLI: From us you’re not going to see long, like significantly long-term deal. I think there will be a pull back just based on the cap projecting to go down. I think that translates into probably lesser average annual value and a lesser term than we’ve seen in the past. 

Having said that, when you’re in that free agent market and there’s a player you want, you tend to overpay. Sometimes that results in a deal where really the real term is a lot less than the stated term, and you’ve got years on top of the real term that are kind of average down years. 

You might see that. I don’t think you’ll see the really long-term deals. 

Q. Last year at the deadline with Toronto we saw some players that were not willing to move their no-trade clauses. Because we’re in a salary cap world, do you personally have a number of no-trades or no-movement clauses that you have a limit you will handout on a given season? If so, what number is that? PETER CHIARELLI: Personally, I try not to give any. Realistically, again, when there’s a player that you need and want in your lineup, that’s a bargaining chip that’s subject to negotiation.

The presence of no-trades has been, the players have strongly pushed it forward. I can understand them wanting to do that. It does put a tremendous restriction on a GM around this deadline if there’s players they want to move that have these clauses.

It’s just the cost of doing business. It’s something that we’re all faced with. We have to make discussions on a negotiation-by-negotiation basis.

Q. Does it influence your decision even more to make a deadline deal if your club is suddenly hit with injuries, like in your case with Patrice and Michael going down? PETER CHIARELLI: Yeah, absolutely. Part of the driving force in these deadline deals is getting depth. I think that I can speak for all the teams: They always want to get as deep as they can. 

Of course when you have these injuries before the deadline, it certainly changes your approach on some of your negotiations. So we’re fortunate to have Patrice back now, and Ryder should be back very shortly, if not tomorrow. We’re good in that respect.

Q. And what have you heard of your goalie prospect, Rask? How far off do you feel he is to playing with a big club? PETER CHIARELLI: He’s had a very good year. I saw hem on play on Friday. He won that game and played very well. He’s coming along nicely. His development track is as we had projected. He should find his way into our lineup shortly.

Q. Do you look at these next couple days independently in terms of the contracts that you have coming up with some young guys, both goalies being free agents? Do they go hand in hand at all in terms of who you might be looking to acquire, or do you kind of try and keep them on separate ends? PETER CHIARELLI: We look at them all together. Any of these players that we look to acquire, we look at our lineup this year and next year and the following year. So it’s at least a two-year look ahead that we use. 

So we try and look at as big a picture as possible and try not to make those decisions bases on a short-term kind of snapshot. 

Q. Did you get some good news with Michael today? PETER CHIARELLI: My guess is that — and it’s a guess right now, but it’s an educated guess — is that he’ll be in the lineup for tomorrow.

Q. It’s probably been about the last month or so that perhaps there’s been a dip in the play, and maybe it’ll take a little bit longer to get things going in the right direction again. From what you’ve seen, are there some general things that you look at and say, Jeez, these are some of the things that we weren’t doing as well the a few month ago? PETER CHIARELLI: Yeah. They’re things that can be fixed. For me, it was driving the net. I think we were one of the best in the league at driving the net and backing the defense off. We haven’t been doing that as much.

One of the other things was you can drive the net, but you have to stay in those dirty area. We got to do that more. The other is finishing checks. Those three things to me I’ve seen a drop off. When you do those three things, I think the rest of your game will come around.

We haven’t been doing that as well over the last month or so.

Q. Have you seen any trades made this year by other teams that made you think, Hmmm, they’re doing that to get better at playing against us. If you did see that, would you look at somebody in the trade market to counter that? PETER CHIARELLI: I haven’t seen that yet. I think most teams…I would expect most teams think the way we do: we want to improve. We might look to make trades to counter what we think will be the greatest opposition of those other teams. I would imagine they look at it the same way. 

I haven’t seen many trades this year. You might want to ask me that in a week and I can let you know. 

Q. Last year you didn’t do anything significant on the deadline, and you didn’t want to get into any rentals. You wanted to make sure that you what acquired was going to be part of the picture going forward. Do you feel any less committed to that thinking when you’re in the position you’re in now? PETER CHIARELLI: I think, yes, we’re looking at it a little differently this year. I talked earlier about being in and around our window but bouncing our young foundation. You know, for us, a rental is a player whose contract is expiring. I think we would look to that type of player if the price is right. 

You got pay to get these players, because they’re good players. Again, my job is to…if we’re look to these players, and we are this year — I’m not saying we’re not looking at players who have years left on their contract. We just have to make sure it’s the right deal.

Michael Ryder expected back in the lineup tomorrow night

Monday, February 23rd, 2009

Michael Ryder, out the last the seven games with multiple facial fractures, is expected back into the Bruins lineup tomorrow night against the Florida Panthers, according to Bruins GM Peter Chiarelli. The winger practiced with the team throughout their just concluded four game road trip, and has been allowed to keep his conditioning close to game-level. Ryder is expected to wear a protectice cage or visor when he does return to the ice.

“My guess is that — and it’s a guess right now, but it’s an educated guess — is that he’ll be in the lineup for tomorrow,” said Bruins GM Peter Chiarelli in an NHL-sponsored conference call this afternoon.

Ference, Chara make personal donations for Right to Play

Monday, February 23rd, 2009

The Right to Play is a charity organization that includes a heavy dose of Boston Bruins involvement, as both Andrew Ference and Zdeno Chara have traveled over to Africa in the name of the Canadian organization. Twenty-two different NHL players are donating something of their own to raise in the next week, and that includes Ference putting his own Harley Davidson on auction to raise funds. The coolest part: the player get to do in the name of someone they care about or admire.

No word on whether Big Z is going to donate the Right to Play yellow toque he was sporting when he reared back and fired the NHL hardest slap shot during All-Star weekend in Montreal last month. Here’s the release from Right to Play:

Players from 22 National Hockey League teams are showing their support for the international humanitarian organization Right To Play by making personal donations over the Feb. 27 ‘€“ March 1 weekend.

NHL superstars including Right To Play Athlete Ambassadors Alexander Ovechkin, Zdeno Chara, Joe Thornton and Daniel Alfredsson will be among at least 25 players donating to Right To Play based on minutes played in one of their team’€™s games Feb. 27 ‘€“ March 1. While players celebrate their ability to play a game they love, they will be making donations to Right To Play in honour of coaches or role models who instilled in them the positive values of sport and helped them succeed — not just in hockey, but in life.

Funds raised will support Right To Play’€™s sport and play programs in 23 countries of operation across Africa, Asia, the Middle East and South America. By training local community leaders as Coaches to deliver these programs, Right To Play provides similar growth opportunities and positive role models for 600,000 children in Right To Play activities every week.

‘€œWhen I visited Right To Play projects in Mozambique last summer, I saw what an incredible impact Right To Play Coaches are having on children’€™s lives,’€ said Boston Bruins captain Zdeno Chara. ‘€œI was inspired by their commitment and extremely impressed by the ability of just a few Coaches to create such happiness and amazing learning opportunities for literally hundreds of children. My father was a mentor for me and that is why I am honouring him with my donation. I know it is for an outstanding cause.’€

The Garth Brooks Teammates For Kids Foundation is also joining in the players’€™ support of Right To Play by matching donation contributions from Teammates For Kids ‘€˜Hockey Teammates’€™ up to $20,000.

In addition, players, teams, the NHL and NHL Players’€™ Association have all contributed to an online auction in benefit of Right To Play. The auction launches this evening at www.ebay.com/righttoplayand is highlighted by a 1999 Harley-Davidson motorcycle donated by Boston Bruins defenseman Andrew Ference and a leather jacket from Deeley Harley-Davidson Canada.

Andrew’€™s video promoting the auction can be seen on the eBay site. Other items include a custom Steve Montador signature poker table, a signed 2009 ‘€˜West’€™ NHL All-Star Game sweater, game-used sticks from Daniel Alfredsson, Garnet Exelby and Manny Malhotra, an Alex Ovechkin-autographed Right To Play tracksuit, signed jerseys and other merchandise. The auction closes on March 1.

 ‘€œOn behalf of all the children in our programs and the volunteer Coaches who work with them, I want to thank these NHL players and the Garth Brooks Teammates for Kids Foundation for their outstanding leadership and support,’€ said Right To Play President and CEO Johann Koss. ‘€œThis initiative is a great example of what can be achieved when athletes rally together around the best values of sport and play.’€

Participating players are listed below and can also be found on a Coach Tribute Wall at righttoplay.ca or righttoplayusa.org. Fans are encouraged to join these NHL players by making online donations in honour of their own coaches or role models. For donations of $25 or more, donor and coach names will be inserted on the Coach Tribute Wall alongside the NHL players, and the donor will receive a personalized ‘€˜Coach Tribute’€™ via email as a special thank you.

Right To Play 2009 ‘€˜Donation for Minutes Weekend’€™ Participants

NHL Team Player Honoured Coach / Role Model Donation Game

Anaheim Ducks Steve Montador/Gisele Bourgeois Feb. 28 at Dallas
 Chris Pronger/Ollie Bon Jovi / Hummer Feb. 28 at Dallas
Atlanta Thrashers Garnet Exelby Jude Boulianne Feb. 28 vs. Carolina
Boston Bruins Zdeno Chara/Zdenek Chara Feb. 28 vs. Washington
 Andrew Ference/Brent Peterson Feb. 28 vs. Washington
Calgary Flames Robyn Regehr/All minor hockey coaches Feb. 27 vs. Minnesota
Chicago Blackhawks Jonathan Toews/Thom Gross Feb. 27 vs. Pittsburgh
Columbus Blue Jackets Manny Malhotra/Scott Sones/Rob Honighan March 1 at Vancouver
Edmonton Oilers Ethan Moreau/Ab Moreau Feb. 28 vs. Minnesota
Florida Panthers Jay Bouwmeester/Dan Bouwmeester Feb. 28 at New Jersey
 Greg Campbell/All minor hockey coaches Feb. 28 at New Jersey
Los Angeles Kings Anze Kopitar/Matjaz Kopitar Feb. 27 at Detroit
Minnesota Wild Nick Schultz Robert Schultz Feb. 27 at Calgary
Montreal Canadiens Mike Komisarek/Aleksey Nikiforov Feb. 28 vs. San Jose
Nashville Predators David Legwand/Dave and Carole Legwand Feb. 28 vs. Detroit
New York Islanders Josh Bailey/Mickey Renaud Feb. 28 vs. Buffalo
New York Rangers Wade Redden/Pat Redden Feb. 28 vs. Colorado
Ottawa Senators Daniel Alfredsson/Hasse Alfredsson Feb. 28 vs. Toronto
Philadelphia Flyers Mike Richards/Mark Richards/Matt Richards Feb. 27 vs. Montreal
Pittsburgh Penguins Eric Godard/Bill Higgins Feb. 27 at Chicago
San Jose Sharks Joe Thornton/Brian Muscat Feb. 28 at Montreal
Tampa Bay Lightning Matt Pettinger/Allan Neale Feb. 27 at Vancouver
Toronto Maple Leafs Dominic Moore/Brad Selwood Feb. 28 at Ottawa
Vancouver Canucks Kevin Bieksa/Scott Jess Feb. 27 vs. Tampa Bay
Washington Capitals Alexander Ovechkin/Zinetulla Bilyaletdinov Feb. 28 at Boston
 
 About Right To Play
Right To Play is an international humanitarian organization that uses sport and play programs to improve health, develop life skills and foster peace for children and communities in some of the most disadvantaged areas of the world. Working in both the humanitarian and development context, Right To Play trains local community leaders as Coaches to deliver our programs in 23 countries affected by war, poverty and disease across Africa, Asia, the Middle East and South America. Right To Play is supported by an international team of top athletes from more than 40 countries. As role models, these athletes inspire children, raise awareness and promote opportunities for funding for Right To Play projects.

B’s are better, but still no ‘W’ to end tough road trip

Sunday, February 22nd, 2009

TAMPA, Fl. — The end result was the Boston Bruins losing their sixth game in the last seven tries, but a 4-3 loss to the Tampa Bay Lightning suffered in the closing minutes of Sunday night’s tilt at the St. Pete Times Forum was a small step in the proper direction.

At this point it’s small gains for a hockey team that clearly lost its groove some point after the New Year.

The bad news: the B’s lost three of four games on the just-concluded road trip through the Sun Belt and couldn’t hang on for overtime and steal a point out of Sunday’s showdown in Tampa. The good news: Bruins Captain Zdeno Chara was encouraged in the face of a six game homestand that will take them through March 7, and ever-closer to the postseason.

The Black and Gold outshot the Bolts by a wide 43-18 margin and enjoyed a boatload of Grade A chances produced by their extended efforts. But two late penalties to David Krejci and Andrew Ference gave the Lighting an extended power play late in the third that Vaclav Prospal finally cashed in on.

“I thought we did a really good job,” said Zdeno Chara. “(Saturday) we had about the same amount of shots, but we didn’t have that steady presence in front of the net. We definitely had that and created a lot of chances. We all really played hard, the effort was there and it’s just a tough loss. You’re going to have games like that.

“No matter what we say, we know we have to put some wins together and get back on a roll,” added Chara. “Points are getting and we didn’t get any tonight. We need to put it behind us and get ready for some games. We realize teams are playing us really hard and they want to measure themselves against, especially with only 20 games left going into the playoffs. Everyone wants to have a strong finish. We just need to make sure we’re playing our game, and not adjusting to other teams.”

Sunday’s effort-filled defeat featured several fights along with plenty of big bodies crashing at the net and a little extra oomph and determination at taking the puck away from Lightning skaters in all three zones of the ice. In other words, it seemed a lot more like the hockey club that had built up a huge cushion in the Eastern Conference.

Unfortunately a 4-4-2 month of February has done what absolutely nobody could do through the first four months of the season — it’s made the Bruins look mortal and allowed an impressive Washington Capitals to close within seven points in the Eastern Conference standings.

“If the effort is like that night after night, then we’ll get back on track and that’s what we’re looking for,” said B’s coach Claude Julien. “Our guys competed hard tonight from start to finish.

“I thought our game had slipped probably for at least a month now, and — if anything — I thought that was one of our better games in the last month. We need to work our way back to where we were. It took us a month to slip, so it’ll probably take us a month to get where we want to be.”

Snake-bitten Phil Kessel entered the game riding a 14-game goal-scoring drought — the third longest stint without a lamp-lighter in his young career — and ended it just 1:38 into the game. The score was a pretty typical quick, well-placed wrist shot to the goalie’s stick side that Kessellaunched with his feet moving through the right faceoff circle. It was the same kind of thing that the sniping winger did 24 times through the first half of the season while pushing himself off to such a great start, and the youngster didn’t stop competing through the 60 minute game.

Kessel pushed and shoved and competed for loose pucks. He pushed and shoved at Tampa Bay aggressors throughout the game, and he even lifted the stick of a Lightning shooter in the defensive zone to prevent a point blank bid at B’s goalie Manny Fernandez. He did all of those things to raise his all-important “compete level” while also cashing in on his 25th goal of the season, and first since way back on Jan. 3 in a loss to the Buffalo Sabres.

“I hadn’t scored in a while,” said Kessel. “I feel like we had a lot of chances. I thought we worked hard out there today. We just need to keep battling, do all the little things and get back on track. I’m just trying to go out there and get going again.”

Julien was happy with what he saw.

“When Phil plays like that, he’s a great player,” said Julien flatly.

Kessel had a pair of golden chances in the third period when he walked in from the right side on the Lightning net and flipped a shot at Tampa goalie Karri Ramo that he was able to kick out to the front of the net. Kessel followed after the puck and poked a rebound bid at the open net, but somehow Ramo was able to swing his pad outward and knock Kessel’s bid away. It was part of a big night for Ramo, who stymied the Bruins with 40 saves and helped his Bolts take two points away from the B’s.

Injury Ward:  Everybody appeared to leave Tampa relatively healthy, and there should be a relatively full lineup against the Panthers at the Garden Tuesday night.

Player of the Game: Zdeno Chara always seems to man up when his team needs him most, and he was a monster against the Lightning Sunday night. He scored the game-tying goal in the second period on a heads-up play filling the lane, he fired off a game-high six shots and he shut down Vinny Lecavalier’s line. In short, Big Z did everything a Bruins captain should out on the ice and he was the first to answer any and all questions in the dressing room.

Goat Horns:  The two Bruins penalties (Krejci for interference and Ference for delay of game) late in the game set up the game-winning goal for the Bolts, but it shouldn’t completely muddy a good all-around effort by the entire roster from top to bottom. The B’s need to bottle up that passion and energy for their final 22 games of the regular season, and finish up strong for an intense playoff run.

Turning Point: The B’s were behind the 8-ball early in this one as — following Kessel’s first period score — the Lightning struck quickly for two goals within 15 seconds in the first period. The goals by Jeff Halpern and Adam Hall stole away the momentum Boston built up early, and gave the Bolts just enough to hang on in a game Boston dominated. Mini-turning point No. 2 came in the third period when Ramo made those two show-stopping saves on Kessel to keep the game tied at 3-3.

Zdeno Chara gets it back, B’s and Bolts tied at 3-3

Sunday, February 22nd, 2009

TAMPA, Fl. — A Zdeno Chara blast from the high slot with plenty of Bruins traffic in front beat Tampa Bay goalie Karri Ramo, and the B’s have again tied it at 3-3 with 3:20 to go in the third.