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Thomas: Easy does it 03.27.10 at 9:15 pm ET
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Everyone in Bruins black and gold knew Tim Thomas hadn’t played much in the last two weeks.

And, after watching video, every Bruin knew what the Calgary Flames wanted to do on Saturday. The Flames figured if they could crash the net they could eventually get to – and frustrate – the Bruins goalie.

So when push came to shove on Saturday, the Bruins and Thomas were ready.

Thomas stopped all 31 shots he faced in leading the Bruins to a 5-0 cakewalk over the Flames at TD Garden.

“Timmy hasn’t played in a while and obviously, he is a very competitive guy and it’s great to see him out come here and play a good game for us,” said Mark Recchi, one of five different goal-scorers for Boston on Saturday.

“It’s nice when you have two goaltenders you can really count on and Timmy has been here for a number of years and has done a great job and it was great to see him. Tuukka [Rask] carried the load for a little bit and did a wonderful and it’s nice when you pull him and don’t miss a beat because Timmy does a great job.”

Thomas had started in goal exactly once in the last eight games, losing a 3-2 decision to New Jersey on March 15.

“That was like my fifth full game in like seven weeks,” Thomas said of Saturday’s return to action. “I played periods, but not [a full game]. So I didn’t really know what to expect, but the team came out strong in front of me. They did a really good job of making me feel comfortable and that helped a lot.”

And when the Flames took a pair of goalie interference calls in the second period, Thomas and the Bruins were ready.

“Well that’s what they do,” Thomas said. “We actually saw that in the video before the game. That’s what they do so you’re prepared for it. I’m just not going to change the way that I play. That’s the worst thing you can do, because they’ll get goals off of it, if you change the way that you play. You have to put yourself in vulnerable positions sometimes and that’s what kind of happened on that one play.”

Thanks to the win, the Bruins tied Philadelphia with 80 in seventh place in the East while dropping Calgary further into a ninth-place hole behind Detroit in the West.

“They were behind the eight ball more than us,” Thomas said. “At this point we were sitting in the playoff spot before this game. So really, especially after that last they had against the Islanders, we knew that they must really be feeling the pressure. Part of our game plan was to be the relaxed team, be the team that relaxes and plays and has fun and hopefully good things come of it, and it worked.”

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Second period summary: Bruins vs. Flames at 2:39 pm ET
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Apparently, the Bruins wanted to show Marc Savard they can score on the man advantage – even with their best power play weapon out with a serious concussion.

Savard said before the game he wished he could help them on the power play and general manager Peter Chiarelli smiled a painful smile in agreement since the Bruins entered play Saturday mired in a hideous 0-for-22 slump.

Well, after Dennis Seidenberg finally found the net in the first period, the Bruins doubled their pleasure in the second to take a 3-0 lead heading into the second intermission.

David Krejci fired a rocket from the low left point 89 seconds into the period to make it 2-0 and Zdeno Chara scored on the man advantage from the high slot at 6:15 and all of sudden the Bruins were 3-for-3 on the PP.

They had a chance to make it 4-for-4 toward the end of the period but had to settle for a hat trick. And settle they did with a smile of satisfaction heading to the dressing room.

The Flames are outshooting the Bruins, 23-22, but Tim Thomas has been perfect so far.

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Sobotka cleared to return at 11:18 am ET
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After missing Thursday’s game with a neck strain and mild concussion, Vladimir Sobotka said Saturday morning he was cleared to return to action against the Calgary Flames. The center suffered the injury when he was hit during the game in Atlanta on Tuesday night.

“It’s been evident in the last couple of games, we’ve been successful just being hard on the puck and getting there on the forecheck,” linemate Milan Lucic said. “Having him back, he’s a fast player and he’s really strong on the puck, he’s going to help being back in the lineup.”

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Julien: ‘It’s our own fault’ 03.26.10 at 3:33 am ET
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Just 49 seconds into the game, Bruins coach Claude Julien had a classic ‘I can’t believe what I just saw’ look on his face.

He couldn’t believe Steven Stamkos, one of the most skilled goal-scorers in the game, was spotted a good two strides offsides into the Bruins zone without being whistled for the infraction. That break allowed him to take a near-perfect pass from Steve Downie and beat Tuukka Rask for an early 1-0 lead.

But afterward, as much as he wanted to blame the missed offsides for costing them the first goal of the game and some valuable early momentum, he just couldn’t bring himself to also overlook the responsibility his team bears for coming up flat on home ice at an extremely inopportune time.

“It was, yeah, I don’t want to say it was just one of those nights, but, like I said, certainly with every little thing that happened, they found a way,” Julien said. “The first one, again is an offside goal. But it still doesn’t mean there’s something we could have done about it, we could have reacted better. So you got to blame yourself for those kind of things.

“We didn’t have a good start tonight,” Julien said. “The opportunities that we gave them, they capitalized on. Defensively, I didn’t think we were as sharp as we have been. When you spot the type of players that scored for them tonight some opportunities, they certainly will make the best of it. So it’s our own fault for not being sharp without the puck, sharper [without the puck].”

As a result of Thursday’s letdown game, the Bruins missed a golden opportunity to move up in the standings as Philadelphia lost in overtime to Minnesota. The Flyers now stand two points ahead of the Bruins for 7th in the East.

“Your number one concern is your team,” Julien said. “It doesn’t mean you don’t look at the scoreboard after it’s all said and done, but right now our concern is we need to bounce back and we need to win the next hockey game. When the next hockey game happens to be in your home building, where we got to get better as well. So that’s probably the most important concern right now.”

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Second period summary: Bruins vs. Lightning 03.25.10 at 8:42 pm ET
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The Steven Stamkos show continued late in the second period as his power play blast beat Tuukka Rask for his 45th goal of the season. Not only did the goal with 25.8 seconds left in the period put Tampa Bay up, 4-2 after two periods, it tied the unsung star with Sidney Crosby and Alex Ovechkin for the NHL lead.

Johnny Boychuk and Zdeno Chara are having similar nights. The two defensemen have been downright offensive.

Chara had a couple of bad giveaways in his own zone in the first period but scored Boston’s first goal with an aggressive pinch up the slot with 26.8 seconds left.

Then, in the second period, Boychuk lost control of the puck behind Tuukka Rask. It was stolen by Paul Szczechura, who put it past the unsuspecting Bruins netminder for a 3-1 Tampa lead.

But Boychuk, like Chara, redeemed himself with a nifty shot from the low right point. Boychuk used the screen in front of Antero Niittymaki beautifully and when the puck went through the five-hole, the Bruins had closed the gap again to one at the 10:22 mark.

In the opening two minutes, there was an ironic moment as Shawn Thornton took out Kurtis Foster on the corner boards to the right of Niittymaki. The check close to the head of Foster could be the first instance of discipline from the new NHL ‘Blindshot Headshot’ rule enacted earlier in the day.

It was exactly one week ago when Thornton exacted his revenge on Pittsburgh’s Matt Cooke for a hit on Feb. 7 on Marc Savard that left the Bruins center out indefinitely with a concussion.

Bruins are more-than-doubling up Tampa Bay on the shot clock, 31-15, after 40 minutes.

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First period summary: Bruins vs. Lightning at 7:51 pm ET
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The Bruins carried play for most of the first, outshooting Tampa Bay, 19-8, but some breakdowns in front of Tuukka Rask led to two Tampa Bay goals and a 2-1 Lightning lead after one.

The NHL’s leading goal scorer not named Sidney Crosby or Alex Ovechkin put the visitors on top just 49 seconds into the game.

Steven Stamkos, streaking down the slot, took a feed from Steve Downie and redirected a pretty shot past Tuukka Rask for a 1-0 Lightning lead. Replays showed Stamkos appeared to be clearly offsides, which is what Bruins coach Claude Julien argued in vein from the bench.

Stamkos has 44 goals this season. Only Crosby and Ovechkin – each with 45 – have more.

Vincent Lecavalier faked a slap shot from the top of the left circle only to pass to a rushing Martin St. Louis, who beat Rask with just under two minutes left in the first for a 2-0 lead.

The Bruins finally responded with 26.8 seconds remaining on a 4-on-4 when David Krejci fed a pinching Zdeno Chara in front of Niittymaki. Chara put it past the Tampa netminder and the Bruins finally had some life.

The Bruins didn’t let the early goal slow them down. They carried play for much of the first 15 minutes, outshooting Tampa, 11-3.

Marco Sturm had a mini-breakaway in from the Lightning blue line with five minutes left but Niittymaki again came up big.

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Milbury on D&H: ‘Mired in this Neanderthal B.S.’ 03.18.10 at 12:50 pm ET
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NESN hockey analyst Mike Milbury checked in with Dale & Holley show (audio here) to talk about Thursday night’s Bruins-Penguins game and the potential for nastiness involving Penguins villain Matt Cooke. Milbury said he’s heard that NHL vice president Colin Campbell will address the teams prior to the game. Said Milbury: “That’s what I’m hearing. I don’t know what he’s going to say, but I’m sure there will be references to past incidents, [Todd] Bertuzzi-[Steve] Moore, for example, and he doesn’t what any nonsense and what-not, which is good. We had such a great buzz after the Winter Classic. We had such an incredible buzz after the Olympics, and now we get stuck and mired in this Neanderthal B.S., which is really unfortunate for the sport.”

Milbury said he expects the Bruins will seek retribution early. “I hope it isn’t silly. I hope it’s mano-a-mano and confrontational and sends a message to Matt Cooke that this isn’t going to happen. And I actually think if it happens twice, I wouldn’t be too disappointed. But I don’t want it to deteriorate. … The actual game had such a positive buzz. I don’t want to lose that in the circus sideshow here. I don’t think it’s necessary. I don’t think there’s a need to go after Sidney Crosby in any untoward way.”

Added Milbury: “The Bruins, their macho is challenged, their ego is challenged, their self-esteem is on the line. I think they’re going to feel compelled to get even, whatever that means. I’m not so sure they have to. I wish all this stuff happened spontaneously rather than a planned event, but it happens.”

Milbury said it’s important not to let things get out of hand, for the sake of all involved. “We want a hockey game,” he said. “A hard-played and well-fought — no pun intended — hockey game, where if there’s a way to get some measure of justice when you feel like justice had not be been served on a cheap-shot hit to your teams’ most valuable player, so be it. So be it. Man, oh, man, this is not a real war, this is a professional hockey game to be played hard and within the boundaries of the rules, for the most part. Let’s not lose sight of the fact that people get hurt out here.”

As for Campbell, Milbury said: “I think he’s done … what he thinks is right, by the book. You may have issues with that, but I know Colin Campbell well enough to know he takes the job seriously. … He struggled with it. He struggled with this decision big-time.”

Milbury said the Penguins should let Cooke know his dirty play will not be tolerated any more. “It’s disgraceful if they haven’t addressed it already,” Milbury said.

As for the Bruins’ chances to make the playoffs, Milbury said: “I think it’s going to be Boston or New York, and I give the edge to Boston now.”

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