|1st period summary: Bruins vs. Sabres – Game 6||04.26.10 at 7:49 pm ET|
The Bruins, who struggled all season finding the back of the net on the man-advantage, scored for the 5th time in 18 power play chances this series.
The assist was Recchi’s 75th career in the playoffs, by far more than any active player in the playoffs.
With the Bruins looking for an early strike in Game 6, it was the Sabres who got the game’s first big break.
Steve Begin was whistled for a cross-checking penalty at 2:32 of the first period.
But as it has been all season and in this season, the Bruins penalty kill came up huge.
Not only did they remain perfect in 17 kill chances this series, the Bruins were the ones who created the best scoring chances.
Patrice Bergeron collected a loose puck in the neutral zone on sloppy play by Buffalo and skated in on Miller. He lost control near the top of the right circle but Marco Sturm was there to gather it and fired point blank. The shot deflected off the crossbar keeping the game scoreless.
Daniel Paille had another clean shot on net on Buffalo’s power play from the left point but Miller made a nice pad save.
Buffalo’s best chance came with just over eight minutes left in the period on a re-direct when Nathan Gerbe got his stick on a puck in front of Rask but the Bruins netminder made the clean save with no rebound.
And the Bruins appeared certain to start the second on the power play thanks to a Henrik Tallinder, who flipped the puck out of play with 5.6 seconds to go for a delay-of-game call. But Zdeno Chara was called for an undisciplined roughing call in a scrum at 20 minutes to nullify the advantage.
|Bruins save their best for last||04.10.10 at 5:29 pm ET|
Every fan inside TD Garden on Saturday was pretty safe thinking they had seen it all when the Bruins set a new NHL record by scoring three short-handed goals in one minor penalty. After all, it had never happened in the history of the league.
Then Blake Wheeler tried to find Michael Ryder in the offensive zone and missed. No problem, except for the fact the puck banked off the boards at center ice and carmoned down the ice toward Boston’s vacated net after Tuukka Rask headed off for an extra skater on a delayed power play.
“I was trying to find a second speed somehow and talk to that puck to slow down because it was going pretty fast.” Bergeron said.
He got his stick on it just before it crossed the line and emotional disaster was averted. Instead of the Bruins getting tied up, 3-3, on the flukiest of goals, they maintained their 3-2 advantage and held on a 4-2 playoff-clinching win.
“I had to keep going, the puck actually took some speed I think,” Bergeron said. “It was going pretty fast there and as soon as I turned around I realized it was probably going to go in. It was going right for the net so I started going as fast as I could.”
And now Bergeron and the Bruins can finally think about the playoffs.
“Yeah, it’s a big relief,” Bergeron said. “We always knew we could do it and you wait 81 games just to get there and it means a lot to us, obviously. We can look forward now. We know that anything can happen in the playoffs as long as you get in. After that, it’s up in the air and you just have to be ready and play your game.”
Blake Wheeler expressed his relief afterward and gratitude toward Bergeron.
|Julien: ‘We’re not there yet’||04.10.10 at 1:29 pm ET|
Bruins coach Claude Julien was cautioning against counting any playoff berths before they’re clinched prior to Saturday afternoon’s matinee with the Carolina Hurricanes at TD Garden. With a win, the Bruins clinch a playoff spot and no worse than a No. 7 seed in the East and avoid the Washington Capitals in the first round.
[Click here to listen to Julien’s pregame comments.]
“We’re not there yet,” Julien said. “This is an opportunity for us to control our own destiny. For me, we need to take care of business today. It’s as simple as that. We need to be ready to go. And hopefully we are.”
Meanwhile, Julien said defenseman Mark Stuart is still more than a few days away from returning to action after surgery to treat a finger infection. Tuukka Rask starts in net for the Bruins. Should the Bruins not clinch today, they finish up the season on Sunday afternoon in Washington against the Capitals.
|Wideman, Bruins can smell the playoffs||04.09.10 at 1:08 am ET|
So it has come down to this. Thanks to a win over the Northeast Division champion Buffalo Sabres on Thursday night at TD Garden, the Bruins could clinch a playoff berth on Friday while enjoying a meal.
“We’ve been right there,” Wideman said of the charge toward the playoffs. “You don’t want to be looking too far ahead. We still have two more games that we want to try and win and not make it come down to the last game so we have to make sure we’re ready to play Carolina on Saturday. Carolina always plays us tough so we have to make sure that we are up to the task.”
That is why the Bruins were rightfully feeling proud of their win on Thursday and none moreso than Dennis Wideman who has seen more ups and downs than anyone in Bruins black and gold this season.
It was Wideman’s turnover that led to Buffalo’s goal by Derek Roy in the first period. The Bruins were down 1-0 after 20 minutes and tied, 1-1, after 40.
But it was Wideman’s shot from the high slot in the third that proved to be the game-winner in Boston’s 3-1 victory.
“Yeah, that was a real big win for us,” Wideman said. “We struggled a bit early. We weren’t quite up to where we wanted to play, but I think we stuck with it and came through with the win.
“That’s one thing that you can’t do when you get into situations like that and you start panicking you start gripping your stick a bit too tight and then things just go downhill from there. It was good that we didn’t panic and we responded and we came back and back and ended up winning the game.”
Wideman fired a shot through Blake Wheeler‘s screen for the goal in the third period.
“Blake did a great job on that goal,” Wideman said. “I think he turned the puck over in the neutral zone, then he kicked it out to Vlad [Vladimir Sobotka] and then Vlad drove it down wide there and showed great patience by not just throwing it at the net into a crowd of people and he pulled back and he found me in the slot and all I had to do was make sure I hit a hole in the net because Blake had a great screen on him.”
The crowd booed Wideman every time he touched the puck after his turnover in the first. But they cheered him when he became the hero in the third.
“I didn’t hear the cheering, no,” he said, before offering, “I don’t know what to say about that actually. Obviously, it’s not easy. It’s a little harder when you’re trying to make a play or trying to be patient with the puck when that is going on, but that is part of the game.
“[Fans] can do whatever they want,” Wideman added. “They pay to come to the game. Obviously at the start of the year and most of the year, things didn’t go as well as I would like or as well as it has in the past. I just have to prove to them that I can still play and I still want to win.”
|Second period summary: Bruins vs. Sabres||04.08.10 at 8:44 pm ET|
Despite their continuing ineptitude on the power play, the Bruins managed to get themselves back on level ice with Sabres after 40 minutes.
Miroslav Satan collected a loose rebound in front of Buffalo goalie Patrick Lalime and slid a backhand five-hole to tie the game just 2 minutes, 15 seconds into the second period. For Satan, it was his ninth of the season and his third in his last three games. He has three of Boston’s last five goals, overall.
And the Bruins have killed off both Sabres power plays tonight. They have killed 13-of-last-14 opponents’ power plays.
That’s the good news.
The bad… they had another two power play chances and missed on both, making them 0-for-5 on the night and an incredible 0-for-17 in their last six games.
Tuukka Rask continues to look sharp in goal, as he turned away all 14 Buffalo shots in the second while the Bruins had 11 on Lalime.
|First period summary: Bruins vs. Sabres||04.08.10 at 7:49 pm ET|
Again the Bruins came out with energy in the first period.
And again they had several chances to capitalize on the power play.
And once again, they head to the dressing room scratching their collective heads as to why they’re down, 1-0, after 20 minutes.
The last time they played, Dennis Wideman took a high sticking penalty in the first 24 seconds of overtime and it led to the game-winner in overtime for Washington.
Tonight, he mishandles a puck at the left point, leading to a turnover and a Derek Roy goal at 11:00. Roy skated in on Tuukka Rask and beat him blocker side, up top for the game’s only score.
The Bruins had three power plays, and in keeping with recent trends, could do nothing with them. They have now gone six games without a power play – an 0-for-15 stretch. They have scored just three man-advantage goals in their last 16 games, going 3-for-41, or 7.3 percent. Not exactly the stuff of playoff hockey teams.
All three of those goals came against Calgary on March 27 at TD Garden.
The Bruins outshot the Sabres, 10-6, in the first period.
|Hat trick: A point made in loss||04.06.10 at 12:18 am ET|
All season long the Bruins have had their doubters, especially when it concerned matters of the heart. Specifically, do they have the intestinal fortitude to get the job done when the odds are against them?
On Monday night, during a 3-2 overtime loss to Washington (click here for the full recap) ‘ the most dominant team in the NHL this season ‘ the Bruins may have shown they do want to play into the second season.
With Adam McQuaid playing nine minutes and Andrew Bodnarchuk playing just six, and their regular rotation of defensemen shortened to four because of 15 stitches in Dennis Seidenberg’s left wrist, the Bruins managed to hang punch-for-punch with Alex Ovechkin, Alexander Semin and the team that has the President’s Trophy wrapped up.
Here are three things we learned:
THE BRUINS SHOW HEART
When Niklas Backstrom’s shot trickled by Tuukka Rask at 7:36 of the first period, the Bruins had to wait nearly seven minutes through a painfully slow video review, only to have the goal upheld.
But following that goal, the Bruins picked up their skating and forechecking.
The scoring chances were again plentiful for Boston, and it seemed for the first 19 minutes, 58.4 seconds of the opening period, they would be frustrated again.
While the Bruins were frustrated on the power play again ‘ going 0-for-3 ‘ they did their best to put pressure on Theodore.
Maybe most importantly, the Bruins showed they weren’t intimidated by the Captials, even when they fell behind 1-0 on Backstrom’s goal. If the two teams meet in the first round, the Bruins coaching staff is likely to show the team a tape of this game and show them why and how they can win.
DENNIS WIDEMAN PICKS UP HIS PLAY
It’s no secret that Dennis Wideman has been the whipping boy for all that ails the Bruins this year. Every time there has seemed to be a critical turnover or penalty, it’s been Wideman at the center of the storm.
And true to form, Wideman was again in the middle of things when he was whistled for a high sticking penalty 24 seconds into overtime. The Capitals made the Bruins pay with the game-winning goal off the stick of Brooks Laich 20 seconds later.
But long before that, Wideman had been doing his best to help the cause.
Just before Backstrom’s shot slipped by Rask at 7:36 of the first period. Wideman came to the rescue but just a half-second late as the puck was ruled to have cleared the goal line for a 1-0 Capitals lead. Alex Ovechkin fed Backstrom across the slot to set up the score.
The Capitals had carried the pace of play. But with 1.6 seconds left, it was Wideman of all people, who blasted a slap shot past Jose Theodore to tie the game and shift the momentum.
EYE ON THE BOTTOM LINE
As a result of Monday night’s outcome, the Bruins gained a point, giving them 85 and a one-point leg up on the Flyers for seventh in the East. Boston is now just one point behind Montreal for sixth. Monday was the game-in-hand the Bruins had on the Flyers and Canadiens. The Rangers are just two points behind the Flyers, and those two teams play each other in a home-and-home on Friday and Saturday.
Now, the Bruins play Buffalo and Carolina at home on Thursday and Saturday before returning to Washington on Sunday with the season possibly on the line against the best team in the NHL.
But if the Bruins win on Thursday and Saturday, they could make life a lot easier on themselves.