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Nathan Horton helps Bruins build 2-1 lead over Maple Leafs 01.03.11 at 8:37 pm ET
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Nathan Horton’s play has been improved of late, but the scoring sheet hadn’t suggested it until he helped the Bruins build a 2-1 lead over the Leafs in the second period.

After a nine-game goal drought, Horton sent a puck to Dennis Seidenberg in the point before doing what made him so popular at the beginning of his Boston tenure: finding his way to the high slot and snapping a shot past bodies and in. The goal, which came at 7:56 of the period, was his 12th of the season.

At 15:30, Marc Savard took a feed from Horton to beat Reimer on a one-timer from the high slot. Milan Lucic, who also got an assist on the play, picked up his first point in eight games.

The B’s outshot the Leafs, 17-8, in the period and have outshot the Leafs, 24-19, though two.

Read More: Marc Savard, Nathan Horton, Tuukka Rask,
Mikhail Grabovski has Maple Leafs up, 1-0, after one 01.03.11 at 7:41 pm ET
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Mikhail Grabovski has the Maple Leafs leading Tuukka Rask and the Bruins after a period of play. It’s Rask’s second consecutive start, and the youngster looks a bit more comfortable through a period than he did when he allowed three tallies to the Sabres in the first 20 minutes on Saturday.

Tyler Seguin had a very good opportunity from the slot with about six minutes remaining when he took a pass from behind the net from Mark Recchi. Seguin missed wide, and later in the play fired another one from the point that was blocked by Luke Schenn. With the Bruins stuck in either the offensive zone or on a line change, Schenn hit a streaking Grabovski, who went in alone on Rask and and gave the Leafs the lead at 14:08.

Gregory Campbell, who returned to the lineup after being sick and missing the last games, started on a line with Seguin and Shawn Thornton. Brad Marchand began the night with Recchi and Patrice Bergeron, the line on which he played vs. Atlanta and Buffalo, but a little more than midway through the period the Merlot Line of Marchand-Campbell-Thornton was reunited.

James Reimer has saved all seven Bruins shots thus far, and the B’s are 0-for-1 on the power play.

Bruins to round out road trip vs. Maple Leafs 01.03.11 at 1:55 pm ET
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Tuukka Rask will attempt to last more than a period when he and the Bruins take on the Maple Leafs Monday night in Buffalo. The Bruins are coming off a 7-6 shootout loss to the Sabres in which each B’s goaltender served up three goals.

WHERE IT’S AT

– The Maple Leafs haven’t proven capable of winning consistently at any venue this season, and Air Canada Centre is no different. Toronto is 8-9-3 there and has dropped its last three at home.

– The Bruins are 11-5-3 on the road and are wrapping up a five-game road trip. The Bruins have gotten points in each game of their current trip, grabbing wins vs. Florida and Tampa and taking shootout losses against the Thrashers and Sabres.

NOTABLE NUMBERS

Tyler Seguin is coming off his first multi-point game, as he had a goal and an assist in the third period vs. Buffalo. He scored vs. the Leafs back on Oct. 28, and if he gets on the scoring sheet Monday, he’ll have had points in consecutive games for the third time this season.

– The best plus/minus rating of any Leafs player comes from Mikhail Grabovski, at a plus-3. Only four Toronto players have positive ratings, and two of them (Joey Crabb and Darryl Boyce) have played in five games or less.

By comparison, all but four players to dress for the B’s this year have a positive rating. Andrew Ference leads the Bruins with a plus-15, while Marc Savard has a team-worst minus-8.

– One of Gregory Campbell‘s three goals this season came in the team’s 3-2 shootout loss to the Leafs on Dec. 4. After missing the last two games with an illness, Campbell practiced Sunday and is expected to return to the B’s lineup.

STORYLINES GOING IN

– There isn’t a more tired storyline than the Phil Kessel/Boston one, so we’ll get that out of the way by noting that Kessel, who still hasn’t scored against the Bruins, did sink the B’s in that shootout last month.

In 37 games this year, the former Bruin has 14 goals and 11 assists for 25 points.

– These games vs. the Leafs are important for more than one reason, as the B’s still have Toronto’s first-round pick in the coming draft. They’ll need to limit the points to see that it ends up being a top-three choice. At 32 points, the Leafs currently have the fourth-worst record in the league.

– This will be just the first time all season that Rask has been given back-to-back starts. This could have been a stretch in which the youngster’s confidence was helped by a spike in time, but that went out the window when Rask was yanked after just one period Saturday.

Tuukka Rask expected to start for Bruins vs. Maple Leafs 01.03.11 at 1:09 pm ET
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According to reports out of Toronto, Tuukka Rask was the first Bruins goaltender off the ice at their morning skate, suggesting the 23-year-old will be the B’s starting goalie when they take on the Maple Leafs.

Rask made his 10th start of the season on Saturday, allowing three goals to the Sabres on 16 shots in the first period before getting pulled. This technically marks the first time this season that Rask has started two games in a row. Tim Thomas has played in the last eight games, seven of which he started.

Rask is 2-7-1 this season.

Claude Julien defends goaltender switch, saying Bruins ‘needed some bigger saves’ 01.01.11 at 10:37 pm ET
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Tuukka Rask, making his first start since Dec. 15, was pulled from the game after allowing three goals on 16 shots in the first period. The B’s led, 4-3, at the time, and went on to lose, 7-6, to the Sabres in a shootout.

Following the game, coach Claude Julien defended the decision in his post-game interview on NESN.

“We felt that we needed some bigger saves,” Julien said. “He hasn’t played in a while, but still, we needed to win this hockey game, so we thought it was important to make that change.”

Rask is 2-7-1 this season.

Read More: Claude Julien, Tim Thomas, Tuukka Rask,
Tyler Ennis scores game-winner in shootout as Bruins fall to Sabres 01.01.11 at 10:15 pm ET
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In a game that could appropriately be summarized as a “shootout,” the Bruins fell, 7-6, to the Sabres Saturday in a shootout.

After Drew Stafford and Michael Ryder each scored in the first round of the shootout, Thomas Vanek and Tyler Seguin followed their teammates’ leads. Tyler Ennis then beat Tim Thomas, who came on in relief of Tuukka Rask in the second period, before Zdeno Chara missed.

The Bruins relinquished three leads and Stafford had his second hat trick vs. the B’s this season. Sabres’ netminder Ryan Miller allowed six goals on 40 shots, marking the third time in four games he’s allowed at least four goals.

The Bruins got first period goals from Andrew Ference, Dennis Seidenberg, Brad Marchand, and Zdeno Chara, but Tuukkka Rask allowed three goals on 16 shots and was pulled following the period. After Thomas relinquished the lead, the Bruins faced a 5-4 deficit in the third period.

The team made yet another third-period comeback, with Tyler Seguin tying the game and assisting Steven Kampfer’s go-ahead goal. Stafford would go on to tie the game with 27.8 seconds remaining in the game with the extra attacker on.

With the shootout loss, the Bruins have picked up six of eight points so far on their current road trip, which they will round out when they face the Maple Leafs in Toronto on Monday night.

Thomas’ record now stands at 18-4-5. He has now played in eight straight games and has lost back-to-back games in shootout fashion.

WHAT WENT WRONG FOR THE BRUINS

– The decision to pull Tuukka Rask was highly questionable. By not letting Rask play more than a period of his first start since Dec. 15, the B’s failed at both keeping Rask fresh and giving Tim Thomas — who had started the team’s last seven games — a day off.

To those wondering whether Claude Julien would have done the same thing if Thomas were in the situation, the answer (based on this season, at least) is no. Thomas allowed three goals on 17 shots Dec. 16 vs. the Canadiens. Julien left Thomas in as the B’s lost, 4-3.

Blake Wheeler has found the penalty box in the last three games without drawing a penalty. He was a minus-1 on the night.

– Drew Stafford has haunted the Bruins all season. Both of his hat tricks have come against the B’s, meaning six of his 13 goals this season have come against the Bruins.

WHAT WENT RIGHT FOR THE BRUINS

– Tyler Seguin played one of his best games this season and was clutch down the stretch. In the third period, he scored his first goal in 12 games on a nice one-timer orchestrated by Daniel Paille. He then assisted Steven Kampfer’s second goal of the season, which put the B’s up, 6-5. Seguin now has 13 points this season.

– The Bruins’ defense was instrumental in the team’s offensive success throughout the game. Four different defensemen scored for the B’s and Marchand scored his goal by redirecting a shot from Johnny Boychuk. It was the first time in team history that four defenseman scored for the Bruins.

The second overall pick still isn’t getting the ice time he was earlier in the season, but he led the B’s with six shots on goal in regulation.

– Chara’s goal, a power-play strike was his first in 24 games. The captain now has five goals and 11 assists on the season. Despite his two points, he had a minus-1 on the night.

– Give Nathan Horton credit where credit is due. He isn’t scoring, but he is (finally) getting shots on goal. He had five Saturday.

Read More: Drew Stafford, Tim Thomas, Tuukka Rask, Tyler Ennis
After pulling Tuukka Rask, Bruins trail Sabres, 5-4 01.01.11 at 9:05 pm ET
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So much for Tuukka Time. Claude Julien apparently saw enough from the 23-year-old in the first to cut Tim Thomas‘ day off short. Thomas allowed a pair of goals in the second period, and the Bruins now trail, 5-4, entering the third period.

Drew Stafford scored his second goal of the game and fifth goal vs. the B’s this year when he beat Thomas at 6:17. With the Sabres on the power play at 17:43, Jason Pomonville also scored his second of the night as he sent a shot wide that was redirected by Dennis Seidenberg’s skate and past Thomas.

The Bruins actually had more shots on goal in the second (13) than they did in the first period. Should the Bruins fail to come back in the third period, it will be their first regulation loss of their current road trip.

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