|The Hat Trick: Bruins finish strong||03.16.10 at 10:21 pm ET|
The Bruins apparently now get it.
They understand that the season hinges on every single game, every single shot and every single shift. On Tuesday night, with a 5-2 road win over Carolina in Raleigh, N.C., they showed just 24 hours after a slow start doomed them to a 3-2 loss to New Jersey they can bounce back and finish a season-long trip on a positive note.
And they showed their ultimate focus, while the hockey world is focused on Thursday’s potential “revenge” game against Matt Cooke and the Penguins at TD Garden. It’s a contest that fans have circled and highlighted since Marc Savard was lost to an elbow/shoulder from Cooke on March 7.
The Bruins have 74 points and solidified their hold on eighth place in the Eastern Conference. They have two huge home games coming up with the Penguins and then the Rangers at 12:30 p.m. Sunday on national television.
The Bruins wasted no time showing they meant business. We’ll do the same in breaking down a win that gave the Bruins a 3-3-1 road trip.
STARTING FAST, FINISHING STRONG
Dennis Seidenberg set the tempo of the game right out of the chute when his shot from the right point was redirected past Manny Legace by Patrice Bergeron just 23 seconds into the game. Seidenberg’s play was typical of the Bruins defensemen all night as they jumped into the play to jump-start the offense.
The starting fast theme continued two periods later when goalie Tuukka Rask stopped Jussi Jokinen and Eric Staal in the opening 30 seconds of the third as the Hurricanes were trying to convert a power play to tie the game. Instead, the Bruins came back with a rush of their own and capped it when Mark Recchi scored 45 seconds into the final period.
The Bruins twice had two-goal leads, at 2-0 and 3-1, and both times, Carolina cut it to one. But on this night, the Bruins found the finishing kick.
Michael Ryder took advantage of a horrendous turnover by the Canes and ripped off a one-timer that made it 4-2. David Krejci’s spin-o-rama job with 7:33 remaining put the game on ice and allowed the Bruins to finally look ahead to their grudge match with Cooke and the Penguins on Thursday at the Garden.
SPREADING THE WEALTH
The Bruins had five different goal-scorers on Tuesday night. Starting with Bergeron, and continuing with Johnny Boychuk, Mark Recchi, Michael Ryder and David Krejci, the Bruins spread it around on Tuesday. What was evident was that every line was skating hard. That, combined with the defensemen jumping into the play made for a formidable and productive combination.
Yes, the Bruins were again out to lunch on the power play, going 0-for-4. But that was offset by their five-on-five scoring chances.
FINGERS CROSSED FOR BERGY
With just under three minutes remaining in a game that was going entirely the way of the Bruins, they had a reminder of just how frustrating this season has been. Mark Stuart picked up a loose puck at the left point, just inside Carolina’s blue line, and rifled a shot toward the net. Patrice Bergeron, as he did on the game’s first goal, got in front of Legace to run interference. But unlike Seidenberg’s well-placed drive, Stuart’s blast elevated quickly and caught Bergeron on the inside of his right knee.
Fortunately, x-rays following the game on Bergeron’s leg were negative but the shot was sure to have left a mark just the way Bergeron has on the Bruins offense all season. Bergeron, as head coach Claude Julien has pointed out all season, has been the single-most consistent player on the roster and they can ill-afford to lose him and Savard coming down the stretch.
|Bruins cap trip with 5-2 win over Canes||03.16.10 at 8:29 pm ET|
Michael Ryder and Patrice Bergeron each scored their 16th goals of the season and Mark Recchi moved into a tie for 22nd on the NHL’s all-time goal scoring list with his 560th career goal as the Bruins ended their season-long seven-game road trip with a 5-2 win over the Carolina Hurricanes in Raleigh on Tuesday night.
Bergeron had to be helped from the ice with just under three minutes left after taking a Mark Stuart slap shot to the inside of the right knee.
The Bruins ended their trip seven-game road trip with a 3-3-1 record, seven out of a possible 14 points and now have 74 points, and still in the eighth and final spot in the Eastern Conference.
Patrice Bergeron: Before taking a shot to his right leg late in the third period, Bergeron was all over the ice offensively, setting the tempo from the first period on.
Tuukka Rask: The Bruins goalie, after turning away all 16 shots in the final 40 minutes on Monday in New Jersey, came up big when he had to. He turned away Jokinen and Eric Staal in the first 30 seconds of the third period on back-to-back chances, setting the stage for Mark Recchi to tie Guy Lafleur for 22nd on the all-time goal list with 560.
Johnny Boychuk: His end-to-end rush in the second period highlighted a great night for the Bruins defense. He, Matt Hunwick and Dennis Seidenberg anchored a good two-way performance by Bruins blueliners for 60 minutes.
Turning point: Mark Recchi’s historic goal. The Hurricanes began the third period with a power play. Tuukka Rask came up with a big save in the first 30 seconds and then just 45 seconds into the final period, Recchi talHilied his 15th of the season – and 560th career – to put Boston up, 3-1.
Key play: Game was over when Michael Ryder capitalized on a horrendous Carolina turnover in their own zone, intercepting a pass just inside the blue line and firing his 16th pass Manny Legace for a 4-2 lead.
|Second period summary: Bruins-Hurricanes||03.16.10 at 7:47 pm ET|
The two teams exchanged goals in the second period as the Bruins take a 2-1 lead over the Hurricanes after 40 minutes.
Boychuk hustled nicely in an end-to-end rush and was rewarded when Hunwick found Boychuk rushing up the right side. Boychuk scored his fourth of the season to make it 2-0.
The Hurricanes used the power play to get back into the game when Eric Cole picked up a rebound to the left of Rask and his put back made it 2-1. The Bruins hold a 32-16 advantage on face-offs and are outshooting Carolina 26-20 but again the alarming stat is Boston’s 0-for-4 on the power play.
|First period summary: Bruins-Hurricanes||03.16.10 at 6:45 pm ET|
The Bruins couldn’t have scripted a better start to what could be considered a key – if not critical – conclusion to their season-long seven game road trip. And they took advantage of the early momentum to take a 1-0 lead after one.
Bruins outshot the Hurricanes, 18-7, in exerting their dominance.
The biggest concern, however, continues to be taking advantage of their momentum to build onto a lead, particularly on the power play as the Bruins couldn’t convert on a 5-on-3 power play and a more conventional 5-on-4 advantage.
Since their best playmaker Marc Savard went down with a concussion, the Bruins have scored just once in 11 tries on the power play and haven’t scored in their last nine tries.
|Boychuk admits ‘Oh, no’ feeling first game back||03.05.10 at 3:52 pm ET|
It’s rare when a hockey player admits the slightest amount of fear on the ice. It’s that lack of fear that separates those in the sport from many others.
But on Thursday at TD Garden, Bruins defenseman Johnny Boychuk acknowledged that he had a few scary flashbacks to Feb. 6 on the same ice when Mikael Samuelsson’s slapshot hit him just to the side of his left eye, causing him to miss the final four games before the Olympic break and Tuesday’s game with Montreal.
But those fears were calmed somewhat when he let loose one of his own booming slapshots in the second period, beating J-S Giguere and giving the Bruins a 2-1 lead over Toronto.
“If felt good, actually,” Boychuk said of his return. “There was a couple of times where I just have to get back into things, I guess. Just little things, I guess, but overall it felt great.”
“It felt better if there was a slap shot coming from the point that I had a visor on. There were a couple of times when somebody wound up and I was like, ‘Oh, no’ and a flashback of that shot hitting me in the eye or side of the head so it’s just nice having that little extra protection.”
Boychuk said the piece of mind was more than worth the minor inconvenience of extra eye protection.
“I just have to wipe it down every once and a while from all the sweat,” he said. “That’s about it.”
It was that cannon of a slapper that earned Boychuk a place on the Bruins roster and possible future offensive force on the B’s blueline.
|Thomas proves he’s ‘ready for everything’||03.04.10 at 11:24 pm ET|
Tim Thomas admitted he felt a little rusty at first. After all, it had been seven games with the Bruins and six Olympic contests that he had served as a back-up.
But aside from a short-side goal off the stick of Viktor Stalberg in the first period, Thomas looked like the Vezina Trophy winner he was last season in helping the Bruins to a 3-2 shootout win over Toronto Thursday night at TD Garden.
“My confidence going into it was pretty good,” Thomas said. “I felt real good in practice. There’s a couple of things that happen in games that you can’t really practice. That put me on my heels a couple of different times. You’ve got to be ready for everything as a goalie, anything that’s thrown your way.”
Thomas stopped Phil Kessel not once, not twice but three times on point-blank chances, including a breakaway in the first and in the shootout.
“At the Olympics, at the end of the practice over the past two weeks, I probably took 400 breakaways after practice and 40 of them were against Phil,” Thomas said. “I didn’t know exactly where he was going to shoot because he can shoot anywhere. I was just trying to do the best I could and I was fortunate enough to be the one that ended up on top today.”
“Outstanding,” raved coach Claude Julien. “For a guy that hadn’t played in a month, for him to come in and do the job he did tonight, we needed him. There’s no doubt. He deserves a lot of credit for this win tonight.”
|Second period summary: Bruins-Maple Leafs||03.04.10 at 8:44 pm ET|
Johnny Boychuk celebrated his first game back with a booming slap shot from the right point that gave the Bruins a 2-1 lead after two periods.
Boychuk took a puck to the face on Feb. 6 against Vancouver, suffering a fractured orbital bone. He missed Boston’s previous five games before returning against the Leafs sporting a visor.
His shot from the right point beat J-S Giguere five-hole and gave Boston the lead at 15:24 of the period.
The Bruins penalty kill has been big, killing all four Toronto power play chances. The Bruins are 0-for-2 on the man-advantage.
Tim Thomas was again big in net as he stopped his second breakaway threat in as many periods when Nikolai Kulemin skated down the slot after Dennis Wideman was whistled for holding. Thomas, who is 0-4-2 in his previous six starts, has stopped 13 of 14 shots.
Thomas’ last win was on Jan. 14 in San Jose when he made a season-high 41 saves and four in the shootout.
The Bruins out-shot Toronto, 11-6, and lead the Leafs in that category, 20-14, for the game.
Once again, Bruins are just 20 minutes from ending their drought at home, now at 10 games. Maple Leafs have lost all 33 games this season when trailing after two periods, going 0-27-6.