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Rask, Bergeron burn Devils 03.30.10 at 9:38 pm ET
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Summary – Patrice Bergeron beat Martin Brodeur with 19 seconds left in overtime to give the Bruins two badly need points on Tuesday night.

On a night that Tuukka Rask seemed destined to be the hero, Bergeron stole the show after Rask was reinserted into the starting lineup, shut out the Devils, and strengthened his hold atop the list of goals against average.

Daniel Seidenberg and Michael Ryder both failed to secure possession for the Bruins in the midst of a rare flurry from the Devils in the final 30 seconds of regulation, but when the clock read 0:00 both Rask and Martin Brodeur had their shutouts intact.

The Devils appeared to be a lost cause offensively through the first two periods, mustering just 11 shots on Rask entering the third period, but back-to-back Bruins’ minor penalties, the Devils showed more life in the Bruins’ zone despite still not managing many shots. With Matt Hunwick in the box for a delay of game, Zach Parise made it 4-on-4. The teams swapped brief opportunities until the penalties expired, with the Devils coming the closest they would come to getting on the board second later.

David Clarkson nearly made it 1-0 Devils when he beat Tukka Rask glove-side but dinged his wrist-shot off the post. The third-period opportunity wasn’t Clarkson’s only flirtation with the scoreboard, as Brian Rolston skipped one past him in the second period on what would have been a solid scoring chance.

Ryder, in the midst of a cold streak, had the Bruins’ best opportunity to end it regulation when he beat two New Jersey defenders in the third period before being robbed on the goal line by an impressive display buy a sprawling Brodeur.

Rask handled surge from the Devils in the extra five minutes, stopping Parise on a 2-on-2 with about three and a half minutes in overtime. It as one of the Devils’ few legitimate scoring opportunities of the night.

Ilya Kovalchuk was positively brutal for the Devils. The play by the Bruins defense deserves much of the credit for the struggles the Devils encountered, but it seemed that whenever Kovalchuk found himself on the cusp of making a play he either made the wrong pass or forget the teams were playing with blue lines. He could have atoned for his lackluster play with about two minutes to go in overtime but fired one right at the chest of Rask for an easy save.

Three Stars

Tuukka Rask – Shutout makes it less likely Tim Thomas will be seeing back to back starts again for the rest of the season.

Patrice Bergeron – Made the game’s lone goal a memorable one.

Martin Brodeur – Handled plenty of tough shots from the Bruins and was equally as impressive as Rask in a 33-save performance.

Key play – Bergeron’s game-winner. Mark Recchi and Mark Stuart got the assists on the rebound from the stick side of the very busy Brodeur.

Turning point – Brodeur’s save on Ryder’s deke. It signified that the Bruins couldn’t beat Brodeur with anything but consistent pestering, which was proven in the extra five minutes.

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Second period summary: Bruins vs. Devils at 8:30 pm ET
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The scoring sheet dictates that it’s been a clean game thus far, but at this rate the Bruins stand to capitalize on how sloppy the Devils have been.

Neither team has seen a player head to the penalty box thus far in a game the Bruins have continued to play well defensively in. The Devils seem more disruptive towards their own offense than toward that of the Bruins. In addition to struggling to stay onside multiple times and lacking shots on goal (just 11 through two), Ilya Kovalchuk absolutely killed a chance in the seventh minute, forgoing a clear shot at Rask for an ill-advised and zone-clearing pass to defensemen Paul Martin.

Former Bruin Brian Rolston wound up ahead of the pack on a bouncing puck along the boards in the Bruins’ zone but put too much mustard on a pass in front of the net to Clarkson, clearing the zone before eventually regaining and blasting a slapshot that was picked out of the air by Rask with just under four and a half minutes to play.

Though the Bruins continue to provide plenty of offensive pressure, they remain unable to capitalize, as a rebound from a low Mark Recchi shot bounced nearly all the way to the point before anyone touched it. Many of the Bruins’ 22 shots have been low on Brodeur, including one from Michael Ryder, in the midst of a cold streak. No. 73 had a solid opportunity on the doorstep about five minutes into the period that Brodeur held onto.

After two periods the Bruins are outshooting the Devils, 22-11.

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First period summary: Bruins vs. Devils at 7:45 pm ET
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The first period between the Bruins and Devils at the Prudential Center was highlighted by strong defense and sporadic yet unsuccessful offensive flurries. The Bruins ended the period with a 13-6 shots on goal advantage and had a handful of realistic opportunities against Devils netminder Martin Brodeur.

The period featured bookend scoring chances for the Bruins. Mark Stuart rang one off the post just over a minute into the period and Steve Begin was robbed in a scrum in front of the net with two and a half to go in a flurry that also featured a bid from Daniel Paille and Patrice Bergeron.

With just under nine minutes to go in the period, Marco Sturm and Mark Recchi were denied of a potential juicy rebound when Brodeur lost his balance saving a wrister from the stick of Dennis Wideman despite a screen from Bergeron.

Each goaltender displayed subpar stickwork with about six and a half minutes remaining in the period. Shortly after Brodeur mishandled the puck in a way reminiscent of the 2003 Stanley Cup Finals, Tuukka Rask was nearly caught playing out the puck out of his net before taking out Dean McAmmond himself.

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Bruins Move in Right Direction in Loss 10.30.09 at 12:44 am ET
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Tim Thomas was disappointed like everyone else hoping the Bruins, not the Devils, would score late and pull out a two-pointer on Thursday night against the Devils.

But the puck fell behind him with 1:26 remaining in the third period, and Dainius Zubrus was there, more than willing to scoop up the spare change and flick the puck into the vacant net behind the Bruins netminder for the winning goal in New Jersey’s 2-1 win.

So there was no miracle finish like last Saturday night, when the Bruins scored two extra-attacker goals in the final two minutes against Ottawa, winning in a shootout. Despite the loss, however, Thomas insisted that there was plenty of reason for optimism on the ice.

“The direction we’ve been playing in the past few games is the right direction,” Thomas said. “And we’re getting effort and getting people moving their legs and we’re getting guys playing physical and we’re getting going toward the net so we’re doing lots of good things. Read the rest of this entry »

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