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Bruins beat Senators, Tim Thomas breaks save percentage record 04.09.11 at 3:37 pm ET
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The Bruins held fan appreciation day at the Garden Saturday and made sure they delivered a win to the home crowd, beating the Senators, 3-1.

Daniel Paille, Nathan Horton and Rich Peverley, provided the goals for the B’s, though it was the goaltender who may ultimately end up being the biggest story.

Claude Julien said following the game that Tuukka Rask would play in the regular-season finale Sunday, meaning Tim Thomas has set the NHL record for save percentage in a single season. By finishing the game with a .9381 mark, he surpassed Dominik Hasek’s .9366 save percentage in 1998-99. The stat first began being recorded in the 1982-83 season.

Marlborough native Bobby Butler scored the Senators’ only goal, beating Thomas at 18:27 of the first period.

With the win Saturday, the B’s are still alive to potentially take the second seed in the Eastern Conference, though they will need a combination of one or two points Sunday vs. the Devils and for the Penguins and Flyers to lose their final games in regulation or in overtime/shootout fashion.

WHAT WENT RIGHT FOR THE BRUINS

- Thomas’ performance this season has been nothing short of magnificent, so it’s fitting that he be remembered for it in the record books. It was just months ago that Tuukka Rask was the obvious choice to begin the season as the B’s starter. Ever since Thomas was given the second start of the season in Prague, he’s taken the opportunity and run to what should be his second Vezina Trophy.

- By playing in Saturday’s game, Mark Recchi moved past Chris Chelios for fourth all-time. He has played in 1652, and it could take nearly another full season for him to catch Ron Francis’ 1731.

- Paille once again submitted a strong case to be in the lineup next week. His tally on Saturday was his fourth goal in the last eight games. Considering he had just two goals on the season prior to that stretch, it’s a good sign.

- Shawn Thornton can hold his head high knowing he produced an even 20-point season offensively for the Bruins. His apple on Paille’s goal gave him 10 on the season to match his total of goals. This season has now produced career-highs in goals, assists and points. Thornton had never scored more than six goals in a season, though he did have nine helpers a year ago.

WHAT WENT WRONG FOR THE BRUINS

- While everyone was glad to see Horton score his 26th goal of the season, there was reason for concern when he left the ice following his second-period fight with Zack Smith. He would end up returning to the ice, but the last thing the Bruins would want would be for the hot-scoring Horton (six goals over his last nine games) to go down with an injury before the playoffs.

- While Paille may have cemented his suspected playing status for the beginning of the playoffs, Tyler Seguin did not do anything to help his case. The rookie was placed in the lineup Saturday in place of Patrice Bergeron, but the game provided more cases of the 19-year-old shying away from contact. Seguin was a minus-1 on the day.

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Nathan Horton gives Bruins lead in second 04.09.11 at 2:44 pm ET
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Nathan Horton was the center of attention in the second period, scoring the go-ahead power play goal to give the B’s their 2-1 lead and leaving the ice after an entertaining bout.

Five seconds into a high-sticking double-minor on Ryan Shannon, Horton scored his 26th of the season when he backhanded one past Curtis McElhinney off a rebound from a Zdeno Chara blast from the point. After a solid fight with Zack Smith at 9:24, Horton left the ice and headed down the tunnel. He would end up returning to the ice with over five minutes remaining, so it seems the Bruins can breathe a sigh of relief.

In regards to the record watch, Tim Thomas stopped nineshots. His save percentage is now at .9377. Dominik Hasek’s record is .9366.

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Bruins, Senators tied after one 04.09.11 at 1:49 pm ET
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After Wednesday night’s game, should it be any surprise that the Bruins’ energy line is responsible for the B’s thus far? At any rate, it’s 1-1 after a period.

Gregory Campell hit Daniel Paille in front of the net, with Paille putting in his sixth goal of the season at 12:53. The tally was Paille’s fourth in his last eight games. Shawn Thornton picked up his 10th assist of the season on the play, bringing his career-high point total to 20.

Tim Thomas, who figures to be making his last start of the regular season, has stopped all nine of the 10 shots he has faced. UNH product Bobby Butler dented Thomas’ shot at a record with his 10th goal of the season late in the period. Thomas entered the game with a .938 save percentage, just .001 better better than Dominik Hasek‘s .937 mark in 1998-99 for the best since they began recording the stat in 1982-83.

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Bruins need at least three points to catch Flyers/Penguins 04.08.11 at 10:23 pm ET
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Thomas Vanek scored 1:16 into overtime to give the Sabres a 4-3 victory over the Flyers Friday. The Bruins probably wish he did it about 1:17 earlier.

With the Flyers picking up one point in the game, they improved to 104 on the season after 81 games. With one game remaining, they control their destiny as far as the No. 2 seed goes, though only a tie-breaker separates the Penguins (shootout win Friday, 104 total points) from snagging the Atlantic Division . A Flyers’ win over the Islanders Saturday means the second seed is all theirs. A loss or a tie, and the Bruins could still be in the picture. This, of course, is assuming the B’s can take care of business against the Senators.

With one game remaining for the Flyers and two left for the Bruins it all comes down to this: If the Bruins can finish the season with as many or more points than the Flyers and Penguins, they’ll be in via the tie-breaker (regulation and overtime wins). To spell it out even more, here are the scenarios:

FLYERS GET NO. 2 SEED IF:

- Flyers beat Islanders Saturday.

- Flyers lose in overtime/shootout Saturday AND Bruins lose or both remaining games.

- Flyers lose in overtime/shootout Saturday AND Bruins win one game and lose the other in overtime/shootout in the other.

PENGUINS GET NO. 2 SEED IF:

- Islanders beat Flyers in regulation or shootout/overtime Saturday AND Penguins beat Thrashers Sunday.

- Islanders beat Flyers in regulation Saturday AND Thrashers beat Penguins in overtime/shootout AND Bruins win one game and lose the other in overtime/shootout.

- Islanders beat Flyers in regulation Saturday AND Thrashers beat Penguins in overtime/shootout AND Bruins don’t win both both remaining games.

BRUINS GET NO. 2 SEED IF:

- Islanders beat Flyers in regulation or overtime Saturday AND Penguins lose in regulation or overtime AND Bruins beat Senators Saturday and Devils Sunday.

- Islanders beat Flyers in regulation Saturday AND Penguins lose in regulation AND Bruins win one game and lose the other in overtime/shootout.

———–

Montreal and Buffalo each have 94 points through 81 games. Since Montreal has 40 regulation and overtime wins (ROW) to Buffalo’s 37, the Habs currently hold the sixth seed while the Sabres are in seventh.

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Claude Julien: You’ll see the lineup in the playoffs when it comes 04.08.11 at 6:39 pm ET
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Bruins coach Claude Julien cringes at the thought of someone wanting to know his starting goaltender before a game, so it’s understandable that he’s divulging zip when it comes to his playoff lineup.

“We’re going to have two or three extra players, guys, so I guess when the time comes, we’ll make those decisions,” Julien said after Friday’s practice. “Even if I had or we had made our decisions, I don’t think I’d be here speaking about it. We’ve got a couple of games left to play, and we’ve got to go out there and play them.

“A lot of things will also depend on what’s going to happen here tonight, and which certain teams are playing and everything else. We’ll see where we stand after tonight. It’s a day-to-day process on decision making. At this stage of the year, it’s not just the coach, but the organization trying to look at what direction they want to take with these next few games.”

Julien noted that he likes to think the entire season will be more of a determining factor than the final two game, as he said he wants to “rely on the big package rather than the small package.”

As for Tyler Seguin, who at this point figures to be the healthy scratch come next week, Julien isn’t ready to agree with the public’s line of thinking.

“I think that’s a lot of speculating. Guys are speculating that he’s fighting for it, whether he’s in or he’s out, and understandably,” Julien said. “For me, those are tough questions to answer, because you guys are all looking for, ‘what is my possible scenario?’ I’m going back to the same thing again. We don’t know what’s going to happen until Monday, and we’ll find out Monday where he stands and the rest of the team stands. A lot of things can happen from here until then.”

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Record watch continues for Tim Thomas 04.08.11 at 1:12 pm ET
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Tim Thomas might make Dominik Hasek wave his record goodbye. (AP)

WILMINGTON — Bruins goaltender Tim Thomas is trying not to think about the fact that he’s very close to setting the record for best save percentage in a single season.

So much for trying.

Seemingly with just one start left in the regular season, Thomas’ .938 save percentage this season would just barely edge Dominik Hasek‘s .937 mark from the 1998-99 season. Thomas’ save percentage didn’t move last game, when he allowed two goals on 32 shots.

“I know that [my next game] will be my 57th game, I think,” Thomas said. “The more games you play, the harder it is to impact it one way or the other. I plan playing well so that I don’t even have to worry about it, but hopefully I have a little bit of a buffer.”

Given that he holds the edge by .001%, it seems it will take a performance with just one, two or perhaps three goals allowed (depending on how many shots he faces) to finish ahead of Hasek’s mark. Told that he could potentially allow as many of three goals and not see his save percentage change, he replied, “I don’t know [if it would move it] either. I’d hope eight doesn’t move it.”

Claude Julien, meanwhile, is not willing to divulge whether he plans to use Thomas in the next two games at all.

“He might,” Julien said with a grin before adding, “is the record more important than the team?”

Thomas has led the NHL in both save percentage and GAA since his first start of the season back on Oct. 10 in Prague, a shutout against the Coyotes.

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Bruins hold final regular season practice 04.08.11 at 11:10 am ET
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WILMINGTON — With two weekend games on the horizon, the Bruins took the ice Friday morning at Ristuccia Arena for their final practice of the regular season. Prior to the skate, Gregory Campbell, Tyler Seguin, David Krejci and Nathan Horton shot on Tuukka Rask and Tim Thomas.

The color-coded jerseys are the same, as they look as follows:

Milan Lucic – David Krejci – Nathan Horton

Brad Marchand – Patrice Bergeron – Mark Recchi

Rich Peverley – Chris Kelly – Michael Ryder/Tyler Seguin

Daniel Paille – Gregory Campbell – Shawn Thornton

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