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Putting up a good fight: Milan Lucic, Nathan Horton big as Bruins overwhelm Capitals 03.16.13 at 3:40 pm ET
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Bruins goalie Anton Khudobin (35), stops Washington Capitals forward Jason Chimera during the first period. (AP)

Milan Lucic had a career-high three assists and Nathan Horton scored once, added two assists and had a fight for a “Gordie Howe hat trick” as the Bruins outmuscled the Capitals, 4-1, Saturday afternoon at TD Garden. Anton Khudobin stopped 32-of-33 shots for the Bruins, who won for the fifth time in six games and improved to 19-4-3, good for 41 points in the Eastern Conference, one point behind the Penguins, who beat the Rangers Saturday afternoon.

Another Saturday, another quick start by the Bruins. One week after scoring three goals in five minutes against the Flyers, the Bruins scored twice in a three-minute span late in the opening period. Lucic skated behind Michal Neuvirth and fed Horton in the low slot from behind the net. Horton fired the shot pass the Caps goalie for the game’s first score.

Three minutes, three seconds later, it was Lucic again in the role of playmaker, as he centered a pass for David Krejci, who beat Neuvirth for a 2-0 lead.

Khudobin had a big first period, facing just eight shots but making several key saves to protect the lead, including a pair of stops on Alex Ovechkin and a glove save on Marcus Johansson.

The Capitals cut the Boston lead in half just 84 seconds into the second on a fluke goal. Johnny Boychuk played a puck to the left of Khudobin and the puck went right to Krejci, who tried passing it across the crease but the puck went through Khudobin for a Washington goal.

Moments after a great sprawling glove save by Khudobin on Nicklas Backstrom, Andrew Ference wristed a shot past Neuvirth for his first goal of the season and a 3-1 lead. The Bruins then established their physical presence in the game as Brad Marchand took exception with the play of Mike Ribeiro and beat him badly in a fight in the Bruins zone. That was followed less than a minute later by a bout in which Horton landed several blows to Matt Hendricks. Horton, with a goal, assist and fight completed the so-called Gordie Howe hat trick.

The Bruins iced the game on the power play, as Rich Peverley scored on a center from Lucic, just eight seconds after Jack Hillen was whistled for high sticking. Adam McQuaid handled Hendricks in another tussle at center-ice in the third period as the Bruins put away the win.

The Bruins outhit the Capitals, 35-24, on the day. The Bruins also increased their league-leading penalty kill, increasing their streak to 27 straight kills. They are 95-for-102 this season on the penalty kill.

The Bruins have little time to celebrate as they play in Pittsburgh Sunday afternoon, five days after allowing three goals in four minutes in a 3-2 loss Tuesday night.

For more from DJ Bean and Mike Petraglia at the Garden, visit the Bruins team page at weei.com/bruins.

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Tuukka Rask: ‘Our heads were not in it at all’ 03.14.13 at 10:50 pm ET
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Tuukka Rask stopped 29-of-30 shots and was voted the No. 1 star of Thursday’s 4-1 over the Panthers at TD Garden.

But Rask was hardly impressed with Boston’s 18th win of the season, especially when the Bruins allowed a short-handed goal in the second period and were fighting for their lives with the lowly, injury-riddled Panthers, who came in allowing an NHL-worst 101 goals.

“We were pretty bad out there at times,” Rask said. “Our heads were not in it at all. That short-handed goal tells a lot about that. I mean, weren’t that bad, defensively.”

The Panthers had the first five shots of the game before Boston rebounded to take a 16-11 advantage in shots after one. The Panthers then outworked the Bruins in the second, outshooting them, 12-7, and trailed just 2-1 after a shorty by Shawn Matthias.

“The first period I had a lot of shots,” Rask said. “It wasn’t that bad, despite the breakaway and a couple of turnovers, it wasn’t that bad. It was pretty clear where guys were coming from. Then, in the second period, it was just a mess. Pucks everywhere, guys were everywhere, there was no structure in our game. There are two different kind of scenarios for a goalie to face but in the third, we played a pretty solid period.

“We haven’t played our best hockey except for the Philly game. We’ve blown a couple of leads in the third and stuff like that. We should be aware of what’s coming at us in games like this. Today was a little sluggish. Our heads were not in it. It shouldn’t be catching us off-guard.

“It’s kind of like Ottawa. They had a similar situation. They just grind out it and try to get points and gritty goals and stuff like that. We knew that was coming. They played a pretty good game. They know our system. They have Rammer [Craig Ramsay] there as a coach so give them credit, too. But we just weren’t at our best.”

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Business-like: Zdeno Chara, Tuukka Rask lead B’s to bounce-back win over Panthers 03.14.13 at 9:26 pm ET
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Zdeno Chara celebrates his sixth goal of the season, a score that put the Bruins up, 1-0, in the first against the Panthers on Thursday. (AP)

Zdeno Chara and Patrice Bergeron scored in the first period and Tuukka Rask stopped 29-of-30 shots as the Bruins beat the Florida Panthers, 4-1, Thursday night at TD Garden.

It was another milestone night at the Garden, this time for the Bruins. With the win, Claude Julien surpassed Milt Schmidt for second on the club’s all-time coaching wins list with victory No. 246. Art Ross (1924-1945) is far ahead in first, with 361 career wins for the Bruins. Now in his sixth season as Boston’s coach, Julien improved his record to 246-136-53 in 435 games.

The win improved the Bruins to 18-4-3 on the season and drew them to within one point of idle Montreal (40 points) for first place in the Eastern Conference standings, with two games in hand on the Canadiens.

Chara put the Bruins on top with a slap shot from the left point after a fluky bounce off the boards. The blast beat former Boston College goalie Scott Clemmensen and gave Boston a 1-0 lead 3:55 into the game.

The Bruins got three big saves from Rask in the first period, including a glove save on Jonathan Huberdeau midway through the period that protected Boston’s one-goal advantage.

Bergeron made it 2-0 when he took a perfect feed from Brad Marchand and one-timed the puck into the net vacated by Clemmensen on the right post. The Bruins appeared ready to take advantage of an injury-depleted Panthers team that has given up an NHL-worst 103 goals this season. But instead, the Bruins could not take advantage of several chances in the final two periods, including open nets for Milan Lucic and Nathan Horton.

The Bruins gave one of the goals back by allowing a rare shorthanded goal by Florida’s Shawn Matthias at 3:10 of the second period. Matthias outworked Dougie Hamilton for the loose puck deep in the Boston zone and the Florida forward beat Rask for the unassisted goal. It was the first short-handed goal allowed by the Bruins this season in 74 power plays.

With momentum swinging against them, the Bruins’ NHL-leading penalty-killing unit killed off a pair of Florida power plays to hold onto the lead.

The Bruins finally finished a chance, with the help of a lucky bounce midway through the final period. Shawn Thornton centered a pass from a bad angle from the right circle. The puck bounced off the skate of Florida defenseman Colby Robak and back to the slot. Thornton circled behind the net and collected the loose puck and put it in the net for his third goal of the season at 12:43 of the third period.

Bergeron scored his second of the game and eighth of the season on an empty-net tally with 57.2 seconds left for the final score of the night. The Bruins are off Friday before hosting the Capitals at 1 p.m at the Garden in the first of a Bruins-Celtics day-night doubleheader on Causeway Street.

For more from DJ Bean and Mike Petraglia, visit the Bruins team page at weei.com/bruins.

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Brad Marchand says Tyler Seguin is ‘pressure’ free now, and it shows 03.08.13 at 1:18 pm ET
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Tyler Seguin

Forget the pressure of playing against his hometown Leafs on Thursday. After all, Tyler Seguin has proven that’s not really pressure at all. It’s inspiration.

The true pressure test came early in the season in the form of expectations for the budding superstar of the Bruins.

On Sept. 11, he signed a six-year, $34.5 million contract extension with the Bruins, when he was still 20 years of age. He then lit it up in Switzerland during the four-month NHL lockout, just to stay sharp. Stay sharp he did with 25 goals and 15 assists in 29 games with Biel.

He started relatively slowly with three goals and seven assists in his first 17 games. But since the calendar turned to March he’s been on fire. He has four goals in two assists in four games in March and has turned the Patrice Bergeron-Brad Marchand line into the most productive on the team.

“I think there’s a lot of pressure on him coming into the year with his new contract and with how well he did over in Switzerland,” Marchand said after Thursday’s 4-2 win over the Leafs in which he had two goals and an assist. “I think he was feeling pressure a bit because a lot of people were saying a lot of things about him, and it seems like right now he’s just very calm and confident, and he’s not really worried about anything else. He’s just focused on playing, and when he does that he’s a great player, and you see it night in and night out right now. He’s making a difference.”

Funny, it’s the assist he got that impressed everyone the most. After Marchand fought for a loose puck near the Toronto bench, he picked it up and made like a missile for the Leafs goal in the final minute of the first period. He was stopped but the rebound was left for Bergeron to tap home for a 1-0 lead.

“When Segs is on his game that’s the kind of things he does,” Marchand marveled. “He takes the puck to the net hard, and he uses speed and skill, and you saw that in the first goal, you saw it in the second goal, and I guess again on the third one. His speed, that’s how he has to play.”

In 14 career games against his hometown Leafs (actually, he grew up in nearby Brampton, Ont.), he has 10 goals and six assists. Any extra bounce for the player who is the reason for the “Thank you, Kessel” chants at TD Garden?

“I’d like to say no,” Seguin said with a smile. “I mean I try to prepare for every game but [Thursday] I thought we did a good job, I think all of our goals our line scored so it was a total line effort whether it was winning battles or making nice passes.

Is there is a little more relief now that these pucks are hitting the back of the net?

“Yeah, you could say that,” Seguin said. “I think every guy in here likes to score and I’m no exception so definitely feels good.

“I think the last couple weeks I’ve just been playing good in my D-Zone and competing a lot more than I think I was in the start of the season. Over in Europe I think I was circling a bit more and didn’t really have to battle, I don’t even know if I got hit over there for the few months I was there but I had to find that game again with me, and I think it’s coming around now.”

The fire everyone always wanted to see from Seguin has been lit. How long will it burn?

“I mean I think it just comes with not producing and just getting more determined and getting back to focusing on the little things more than the big picture or the statistics, I’m starting with that and things are rolling from there,” he said. “I mean it feels good. I think again, like I was saying, as a whole, as a line, I think we’re playing really well, we’re moving the puck well and winning battles and I think with our experience with each other over the last two years those two the last three, it’s really clicking right now.”

Seguin couldn’t help but get a little friendly jab in at Marchand when reminded that he’s scoring all the goals that Marchand was getting from his assists early in the season.

“I just gave it to March [early in the season],” Seguin said. “What else are you going to do, look at the stats?

Well, that’s not a bad place now for No. 19.

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Claude Julien admits: ‘We’re certainly not perfect right now’ 03.08.13 at 12:26 am ET
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Claude Julien knows his team isn't perfect but still pretty good. (AP)

The Bruins got the bounce back win they were looking for in a 4-2 win over the Maple Leafs Thursday night at TD Garden. But by Claude Julien‘s own admission after the game, it was far from perfect.

The Bruins had to battle with a Toronto team that, despite playing on the road the night before, came into Boston and gave the Bruins a game before wilting under the persistent pressure of Boston’s top line of Tyler Seguin, Patrice Bergeron and Brad Marchand. Still the Bruins are 15-3-3 right now, good for 33 points and a spot near the top of the Eastern Conference with Montreal Canadiens.

“We’re certainly not perfect right now,” Julien said. “We’re certainly not firing on all cylinders. I think right now, we’re laboring through it. But, the work ethic was there tonight. The peaks and valleys of a season are pretty obvious that watching us play, nothing is real easy right now. The fact that we’re working through it – if we keep working like that it will come back.”

Julien did like one particular aspect of his team – the fact that they didn’t panic when the Leafs cut the lead to one, 3-2, with just over five minutes left in regulation. The Bruins were up, 3-2, against the Canadiens Sunday night and lost, 4-3. They blew a 3-0 lead in Washington Tuesday night and lost 4-3 in overtime. The Bruins were determined not to have it happen again.

“I think their whole attitude was, ‘listen, we’re here to win, let’s not play on our heels. Let’s go get the next one,’” Julien said. “We had a couple good scoring chances after they made it 3-2. Like I said before, we even scored that empty netter. At least we didn’t sit back,we didn’t panic. Our guys responded well, we looked more like the team of before, when they made it 3-2, than we did the last couple games.”

The Bruins got a big boost from Anton Khudobin, who stopped 25 of 27 shots in the win.

“I don’t know if it was to find out more, but I think that it’s the confidence we had in him that we could put him in against real good team,” Julien said. “The Leafs played a really good game for a team that played last night and they played hard and gave us all that we could handle. But he deserved to be in that game and we knew he could give us that and again it’s about the schedule and making sure that we rotate our goal tenders and make sure that we keep our goal tenders as fresh as possible because there are guys that on a lot of nights that will make a difference in a game. So it wasn’t so much about what can he do more we have the confidence that he can do it.

For more, visit the Bruins team page at weei.com/bruins.

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Top guns: Tyler Seguin, Patrice Bergeron lead Bruins to win over Leafs 03.07.13 at 9:38 pm ET
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Tyler Seguin leaps over Clarke MacArthur (16) after scoring the go-ahead goal in Boston's win over Toronto Thursday night at TD Garden. (AP)

Tyler Seguin set up the game’s first goal with a powerful offensive rush and scored the go-ahead tally as the Bruins avoided their first three-game losing streak of the season with a 4-2 win over the Maple Leafs Thursday night at TD Garden. Anton Khudobin got the start in net and stopped 25-of-27 shots for the Bruins (15-3-3), who also managed to stay ahead of the surprising Maple Leafs (15-10-0) in the Northeast Division. Boston has 33 points while the Leafs have 30, with the Bruins enjoying four games in hand on Toronto.

Seguin added his second goal of the night on an empty-net tally with 14.8 seconds left to provide the final score.

Before getting on the board first, the Bruins had several chances in close on Leafs goalie Ben Scrivens. Chris Kelly was denied on a backhander in front. The puck bounced out to Rich Peverley, who couldn’t control the loose puck to put it into the open net. Jay Pandolfo also had a chance on the same shift but was stopped by Scrivens.

It was Pandolfo’s first game filling in on the third line, as Chris Bourque was placed on waivers earlier in the day. The Bruins and Leafs appeared to be headed for a scoreless first period when Seguin picked up a loose puck in front of the Toronto bench and split two defenders. He skated in on Scrivens, who made the initial stop but couldn’t contain the rebound. Patrice Bergeron was there to put in the rebound between the legs on a backhander to give the Bruins a 1-0 lead with 52.3 seconds left in the first.

The Bruins led after 20 minutes, extending their shutout streak over the Leafs to 146 minutes, 47 seconds, which spanned a pair of shutout wins last season and on Feb. 2. The Leafs finally broke through when David Krejci lost a puck in the offensive zone, leading to an odd-man break on a 4-on-4 situation. Nazem Kadri finished off the rush with his 11th goal of the season at 2:32 of the second, ending the shutout streak at 149 minutes, 19 seconds.

But the rest of the second period belonged to the Bruins. Bergeron took control of the puck in the neutral zone and fed Brad Marchand down the left wing. Marchand found Seguin rushing down the right wing and fed him with a circle-to-circle pass. Seguin beat Scrivens for a 2-1 lead at 7:11 for the go-ahead tally. Over the last nine games, the Marchand-Bergeron-Seguin line has 13 goals and 22 assists for 35 points, with 15 of those points coming in last three games.

Khudobin was big several times in the first and second period, including pad saves on Tyler Bozak in each period.

The Bruins made it 3-1 when the Krejci line finally broke through. Andrew Ference fired a shot from the high slot. Scrivens couldn’t contain the rebound and Krejci was there with the backhander into the open net for a two-goal lead after 40 minutes.

The Leafs made it a one-goal game when Mikhail Grabovski skated to the middle of the left circle and fired a shot through a screen that Khudobin never saw until it was past him and in the net with 5:08 left in regulation. The Bruins had a great chance in the final two minutes to restore their two-goal lead but Scrivens stopped a Bergeron slap shot in close before Seguin’s second goal of the night.

The Bruins helped their cause by killing off all three Toronto power plays, including a brief 5-on-3 in the first period. The Bruins have killed off 79-of-86 penalties this season, good for an NHL-best 91.8 percent rate.

The Bruins are off Friday before hosting the Flyers Saturday afternoon at TD Garden. For more from DJ Bean, Mike Petraglia and the WEEI.com team at the Garden, visit the Bruins team page at weei.com/bruins.

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Blown away: Bruins blow three-goal lead, lose in OT to Capitals 03.05.13 at 9:51 pm ET
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Dougie Hamilton celebrates after scoring Boston's third goal that gave the Bruins a 3-0 lead in the first period. (AP)

Eric Fehr scored on a phenomenal rush up the slot just 37 seconds into overtime as the Bruins blew a 3-0 lead and lost to the Capitals, 4-3, in overtime Tuesday night at the Verizon Center. Tuukka Rask, who couldn’t protect the 3-0 lead, made 22 saves in the loss.

The Bruins lost their second straight game for the second time this season and fell to 14-3-3 on the season.

With Tyler Seguin in the penalty box serving a two-minute hooking penalty, Brad Marchand was hooked on a short-handed breakaway from behind by Alex Ovechkin and was awarded a penalty shot. Marchand beat Braden Holtby for a 1-0 lead at 6:29 of the first. It was the first short-handed penalty shot goal since Jan. 10, 2012 when Shawn Thornton scored against Winnipeg.

With the Bruins in control, they added a pair of goals 1:23 apart late in the first to make it a 3-0 game after one period. Zdeno Chara pinched down low in the offensive zone and snapped a shot past Holtby at 17:07. Then the Bruins capitalized on what appeared to be a questionable interference call on Ovechkin.

Just 15 seconds into the penalty, Dougie Hamilton fired a shot from the top of the slot through a partial screen. The puck found its way past Holtby and the Bruins had a 3-0 lead after 20 minutes.

The Capitals, who came in winners of six of their last nine games, showed some resolve in the second period. Ovechkin found Mike Ribeiro on the low left circle in front of Rask. Ribeiro redirected the puck into the part of the net vacated by Rask at 5:46 of the second. Six minutes later, the Capitals made it a one-goal game when Tomas Kundratek fired one past Rask.

The Bruins had two golden chances to build on their one-goal lead in the third period but neither David Krejci nor Tyler Seguin could finish 3-on-1 breaks on Holtby.

Moments after Holtby turned aside Seguin, Fehr backhanded a pass from the mid-slot that deflected off the leg of Hamilton and found its way onto the stick of Wojtek Wolski, who beat Rask to tie the game, 3-3, with 6:05 left in regulation. The Bruins had one more great chance when Ovechkin was called for hooking with 2:27 left in regulation. But the Bruins managed just two shots on the power play and couldn’t get the go-ahead marker.

Then, in the opening moments of overtime, Niklas Backstrom took a puck in the neutral zone and backhanded a pass for Fehr, who streaked up the middle and beat Rask as he was falling to the ice for the game-winner. Fehr also finished with two assists on the night for the Capitals, who improved to 9-11-1.

The Bruins return to action Thursday night when they host the Maple Leafs at TD Garden. For more, visit the Bruins team page at weei.com/bruins.

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