|Bruins blow two-goal lead, fall to Canadiens in overtime||01.08.11 at 9:59 pm ET|
Thomas lost what would have been his sixth shutout of the season with 2:22 remaining in regulation when he failed to get a stick on a Scott Gomez shot with the Canadiens on the power play. One minute and 34 seconds later, former Boston College star Brian Gionta redirected a James Wisniewski shot past Thomas to cap the Habs’ comeback.
The Bruins got a pair of goals from Patrice Bergeron, who scored his ninth and 10th goals of the season in the second period.
The Habs outshot the Bruins, 25-8 in the third period and overtime combined, and finished the night with 42 shots on Thomas. Carey Price made 27 saves for the Canadiens on 29 shots.
With the overtime loss, the Bruins remain in first in the Northeast division with 49 points. The B’s have played two games less than the Habs thus far this season.
From Montreal, the Bruins will travel to Pittsburgh, where they will take on the Penguins. Two of their next four games come against the Penguins, with the other two being played against the Senators and Flyers.
WHAT WENT WRONG FOR THE BRUINS
– An 0-for-3 showing on the power play means the Bruins have now gone five games without a power play goal. The last time the B’s scored on a man advantage was back on Dec. 28 when Mark Recchi scored the game-winner against the Lightning with 20 seconds remaining in regulation.
– Michael Ryder’s penalty for tripping Wisniewski came back to bite the B’s, as it led to Gomez’ goal and Thomas losing his shutout.
– P.K. Subban didn’t seem interested in obliging Shawn Thornton, as the B’s enforcer/semi-sniper had plenty to say to the rookie defenseman as he skated away from an invitation. Subban is responsible for the huge (and clean) hit on Brad Marchand last month that cost Marchand three games.
WHAT WENT RIGHT FOR THE BRUINS
– Though it was Bergeron’s first two-goal game of the season, it also made for yet another productive night in a very productive stretch. Bergeron now has 12 points over his last 11 games. Though Bergeron has had his offensive lulls this season (two different scoreless streaks of four games, including one to kick off the season), he has been one of the Bruins’ top offensive performers since mid-December.
– When Mathieu Darche whacked a puck past Thomas with a stick that was right around crossbar height, the B’s were undoubtedly aided when, after a few seconds, it was called no-goal on the ice. The play was very close, and it seemed whatever the call on the ice was would stand given that the video evidence wasn’t overwhelming one way or another.
– Wheeler falls in both categories. He took two penalties in the game, but he also drew one and broke a three-game scoreless streak when he assisted Bergeron’s first goal. His three games without a point made for his coldest streak since going five games without a point in early December. Wheeler has 16 points on the season.
The 24-year-old winger had an opportunity to give the B’s a three-goal lead in the third when he intercepted an attempted clear from Price. He took a split-second too long with it, as Price, who was out of his net, was able to get back in time to glove Wheeler’s attempt.
|Patrice Bergeron has Bruins leading Canadiens after two periods||01.08.11 at 8:46 pm ET|
A pair of goals from Patrice Bergeron has the Bruins leading the Candiens, 2-0, entering the third period in Montreal.
With the Habs trying to break out of their own end, Brad Marchand kept the puck in the zone, and after hitting Blake Wheeler with a pass was crushed by Scott Gomez. It all paid off for Marchand, as Wheeler found Bergeron in front of the net to set up the center’s ninth goal of the season.
Later in the period, Bergeron capped a hard-fought shift by putting a loose puck in front of Carey Price past the Montreal netminder. The 25-year-old now has eight career multi-goal games, but has yet to pick up a hat trick.
With the B’s holding their two-goal lead, Zdeno Chara came up huge to keep Tim Thomas‘ shutout intact. With Thomas out of position after cutting down the angle on Travis Moen, the Habs winger slid the puck in front of an unoccupied net looking for Jeff Halpern of Tom Pyatt, but the B’s captain sent the puck out of the B’s zone.
Tomas Plekanec took his second penalty of the game when he went off slashing 78 seconds into the period. The B’s are 0-for-2 on the power play on the night, while a Wheeler slashing call at 15:30 yielded nothing for the Habs.
Through two periods, the B’s are outshooting 21-19.
|Bruins and Canadiens scoreless after first period||01.08.11 at 7:55 pm ET|
The Bruins and Canadiens are scoreless after a period at the Bell Centre, with the B’s outshooting the Habs, 12-11.
Tim Thomas and Carey Price, who have five and four shutouts, respectively, both look sharp thus far. Gregory Campbell, Zdeno Chara, and Steven Kampfer each have two shots apiece on the Habs netminder.
Dennis Seidenberg (7:29) and Kampfer (7:26) lead the Bruins in ice time.
The lone power play in the period came from a Tomas Plekanec hooking call. The B’s served up yet another dud on the man advantage.
Adam McQuaid and Travis Moen provided the only fight of the period. With three Habs swarming Thomas after he made a save on a shot from the point, McQuaid took exception and dropped the gloves with Moen.
|Update: Nathan Horton out vs. Canadiens||01.08.11 at 4:27 pm ET|
Nathan Horton is out of the Bruins’ lineup as the team takes on the Canadiens in Montreal on Saturday night. Coach Claude Julien had told reporters earlier in the day that the forward was unlikely to play with an undisclosed ailment that Julien would only describe as “discomfort.”
Horton has not missed a game this season. In 39 games, he has 12 goals and 14 assists, though he has just four goals over his last 23 contests.
|Bruins and Canadiens square off with first place on the line||01.08.11 at 8:52 am ET|
First place in the Northeast division is on the line as the Bruins (21-12-6) take on the Canadiens (22-16-3) at the Bell Centre on Saturday night. The Habs have taken both of the contests between the rival teams thus far this season, with Tuukka Rask and Tim Thomas taking losses on Nov. 11 and Dec. 16, respectively.
The Bruins are coming off a 3-1 loss to the Wild at the Garden on Thursday. It was their first regulation loss since being blanked by the Ducks on Dec. 20.
WHERE IT’S AT
– The Canadiens are 13-5-3 at the Bell Centre, and their 29 home points are second only to the Capitals’ 33 in the Eastern conference. Following their Dec. 16 4-3 win over the B’s, they spent seven games on the road and have returned to Montreal with an overtime loss to the Thrashers on Sunday and a shootout win over the Penguins on Thursday.
– While this game features one of the league’s best home teams, it also features one of the best road teams in the Bruins. The B’s 12-5-3 road mark is among the best in the conference, as only the Flyers and Rangers have more points (29 apiece) on the road this season.
– New Habs defenseman James Wisniewski has five points — two goals and three assists — in four games since joining the Canadiens. He was a minus-18 with the Islanders this season, but playing for a winning team has changed that a bit. Wisniewski hasn’t posted a negative rating in any of his games with Montreal since being acquired from New York for second and fifth-round picks.
– Who would have thought that Steven Kampfer would be the hottest Bruins scorer over the last five games? The rookie defenseman has scored the first three goals of his career over the span, including a second-period tally against the Wild in which he sent a rebound from a Patrice Bergeron shot past Jose Theodore.
STORYLINES GOING IN
– There’s no bigger story than what this game means in the standings. The B’s have been in first place since beating the Panthers back on Dec. 27. Since then, they have opened a three-point lead in the Northeast and seen it shrink to one point. The the Bruins have played have played multiple games less than most of the other teams in the Eastern conference, the fact that their division-leading 48 points is worse than those of six other teams in the conference should be eye-opening enough to illustrate how important winning the division is to being in a good spot when the playoffs roll around.
[UPDATE: Horton is not expected to play, as Julien told reporters Saturday that he is “very unlikely” to go.]
If Horton plays, it seems he will do so on a new line. Julien flip-flopped Horton and Michael Ryder, meaning Horton is with Blake Wheeler and David Krejci, while Ryder will play with Milan Lucic on a line centered by Marc Savard.
– Though he has battled his way in and out of the lineup as a healthy scratch this season, Habs rookie defenseman P.K. Subban has been a pain in the Bruins’ you-know-what. The 21-year-old Toronto native scored his first career goal back on Nov. 11 at the Garden and most recently laid a crushing hit on Brad Marchand that led to the winger leaving the following game vs. Washington and then missing the next three.
(You can brush up on your French with the feed.)
– This is a bear of a stretch for the B’s, as their four games following Saturday includes two games against the Penguins and one against the Flyers. It’s one their schedule’s toughest stretches of the season (they’ve got another one coming up in February that includes games against the Stars, Sharks, Habs, and Red Wings) and a good test of how far this team has come since snapping out of its mid-December funk.
|Michael Ryder gets bumped up to top line in Bruins practice||01.07.11 at 12:11 pm ET|
After Thursday’s 3-1 loss to the Wild, Bruins coach Claude Julien did a bit of tinkering with the lines in practice on Friday. According to multiple reports out of Wilmington, here is how the lines looked:
Horton reportedly left practice with an unknown ailment, and Claude Julien told reporters that he considers the winger day-to-day.
Though he has gone four games without a point, Ryder has been one of the Bruins’ best offensive threats this season and is having a bounce-back year after scoring only 18 goals a season ago. The free-agent-to-be has 11 goals and 12 assists this season for 23 points. He is on pace for 23 goals.
Horton has been hot and cold throughout the season, and though his statistics may not reflect it, he has shown improved play over the team’s last four games. He has 12 goals and 14 assists for 26 points.
Neither winger would face too major of an adjustment to their new line, as both Horton and Ryder have worked with David Krejci and Marc Savard, their new respective centers. Horton began the season on a line with Krejci and Milan Lucic before recently playing with Savard in the middle of his line with Lucic. Ryder was on Savard’s line when he returned from post-concussion symptoms last month before playing on his familiar line with Krejci and Blake Wheeler.
|Why the Bruins feel so bad for Tuukka Rask||01.06.11 at 11:54 pm ET|
Thornton called out the rest of the team for non-support of goalie Tuukka Rask. The Bruins netminder made several athletic saves, including a spectacular one on Martin Havlat to keep the Bruins tied. But the save was for naught as the Bruins fell, 3-1, Thursday night to the Minnesota Wild.
“Tuukka was awesome again,” Thornton said. “I think its awful that that kid plays so good for us all the time and we don’t get the wins for him its’¦we care about him and we should probably show it in a better way, he stood on his head for us pretty much every night and I don’t know his save percentage is .940 or something stupid like that.
“That should be good enough to win a lot of hockey games so we have to look ourselves in the mirror as far as that goes.”
Not that anyone is nit-picking at this point, but his save percentage is .928 after stopping 31-of-33 shots he faced, not including the empty-netter by Mikko Koivu with less than a minute to go that sealed Boston’s fate.
“It has been disappointing for him all season,” B’s benched center Marc Savard added. “He comes in and gives us a solid effort. We can’t seem to score at all when he is in there. I feel bad for him. He is one of the best goaltenders in the league.”
What about the man himself?
“I always try to have a good feeling, you know?” Rask said. “We definitely’¦ we talked about playing better after the second period and, you know, digging deep but, an awful’¦ an awful mistake there went in and cost us the game. I don’t even know what happened, it’s just, I guess we just lost our focus.”
As frustrated as he gets, Rask said he is doing everything in his power to stay upbeat – though the stat sheet shows otherwise, at least in terms of wins and losses.
“Yeah, you know I try to feel good about myself everyday and think positive, and you know, the past couple games have been solid,” Rask said. “Tough to lose like this, it’s kind of frustrating but you always try to feel good about yourself, but the last three games have been a step in the right direction.”
Rask has stopped 67-of-70 shots in his last two games, showing Claude Julien that he might just be ready to pick it up for the second half of the season. There was no better example of that than his save on Martin Havlat late in the second period to keep the game tied, 1-1. From his stomach, he put his left hand up at the last moment to rob the man who already had beaten Rask for the first goal of the game.
“I saw him at the last second, and I just dove there, and I guess the puck was bouncing a bit for him too, and he didn’t get enough wood on it,” Rask said. “But, you know, it’s’¦ you got to be lucky to make those saves, too, but, I guess, half luck, half skill.”
In just his 13th game – and 12th start – Rask fell to 3-8-1 despite a 2.58 goals against average, a record neither Thornton nor their coach – Julien feels Rask even remotely deserves.
“This is a goaltender tonight that was outstanding for us, deserving a better fate and gave us a chance to win,” Julien lamented. “And so I feel bad for him because he deserves probably to be in the win column tonight, not in the loss column.”
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