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Bruins finally get it right in Dallas

10.17.09 at 4:54 am ET
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Now that was more like it.

The Boston Bruins hoped to a man that hitting the road would allow the team to play a simpler, grittier style of hockey, and that’s exactly what happened in a tidy 3-0 beating of the Dallas Stars Friday night at the American Airlines Center. The B’s best players stepped up to the forefront and made the conscious decision to stop the half-hearted insanity rampant through the early season.

Marc Savard switched his identity from passer to sniper and scored a pair of goals — taking over the team lead with four goals in the process — and Tim Thomas made 27 tidy saves en route to his 13th career shutout. Thomas was at his best in the first period when he and the B’s penalty kill unit were forced to fight off a Patrice Bergeron high-sticking penalty just seconds into the game. Thomas was just as sharp again in the close-out third period when the two-time All-Star goaltender snuffed out a last-ditch attack from the Stars.

Three times during the game Thomas stoned James Neal, with potentially his best stop coming in the third period when he deflected an original slapper from the outside and quickly shifted his position toward Neal’s rebound attempt in front. Thomas flashed toward the right post and stuffed Neal’s bid with his leg pag while keeping his first shutout of the season intact.

Savard potted the two goals and also ended the B’s streak of power play futility at 0-for-17 when he sniped a man advantage score just 29 seconds into their only power play opportunity of the game. Zdeno Chara cleared the puck into the zone, and Michael Ryder battled behind the net allowing the puck to slide over toward Savard waiting by the right post. Savard smacked a bad angle shot from the side of the net, and watched with amusement as the puck pin-balled off Dallas defenders and right on past Marty Turco.

Patrice Bergeron added a tip-in goal and Ryder set up a Savard one-time score in the second period that accounted for the final score, but the game’s real star was the cohesive nature of the B’s defense. Under Julien the Bruins have been a structured, balanced, disciplined team playing with a purpose, and they’d gotten far away from that identity over the previous games. So, this time, the B’s skaters implemented their game plan, back-checked to an acceptable level and blocked shots all night long in front of Thomas.

The B’s now face the Phoenix Coyotes in search of a clean sweep for the road series, and have to be optimistic after impact players like Michael Ryder and Milan Lucic played less than 13 minutes in the Friday night win in Big ‘D’.

YOU’RE THE BEST AROUND AND NOTHING’S EVER GONNA KEEP YOU DOWN: Michael Ryder only notched one assist and leveled one shot on net in 12:15 of ice time, but set up Savard’s second goal of the season with a brilliant pass. Must be time for those questioning Savard and Ryder’s chemistry to reassess their evaluations after watching the new linemates gel against the Stars. Ryder forechecked, battled and played both ends of the rink in a very impressive performance. Ryder could be that much better as a hockey player if he gave in to his passing instincts a few more times.

GOAT HORNS: Mike Ribeiro finished with no shots on net, played to a minus-2 for the night and took the team’s only penalty that led to Savard’s first period power-play score. The Dallas forward has never fully matured from his days as a member of the Montreal Diving Team, and did nothing of significance on the ice for the Stars in Friday’s loss. No shots and no hits from Ribeiro equals little to no impact in the game.

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