|Milan Lucic: ‘Obviously, these are desperate times’||04.01.15 at 10:15 am ET|
The Bruins have been as streaky as Milan Lucic. A five-game win streak was followed by six straight losses.
It’s only appropriate the Bruins ended March with their third straight win, a key victory, spurred on by one of their better players in the month as the left winger provided the game-winning margin with some grit and good fortune.
His rush to the Panthers blue line with just over a minute left in regulation ended with a “why not” shot on goal that found its way through the skates of Roberto Luongo and gave the Bruins a 3-2 win Tuesday at TD Garden. Lucic has become a leader for young stars Ryan Spooner and David Pastrnak on his line. On Tuesday, he led by example when it mattered most.
His drop pass to Spooner resulted in a bad-angle shot by Spooner from the left boards that tied the game early in the third period. His late-game rush with Spooner ended up being the difference in winning and losing.
“I was checking to see to see if Spoons was onside,” said Lucic, who finished the game with a goal and an assist and five of each for the month. “It was kind of a one-on-four situation and I just tried to get [the puck] past the two D-men [and] on net and I got a little bit of luck there and was able to find a hole there in the five-hole. It was one of those things where you’re kind of swarmed. You’re just getting the puck on net, and thankfully it went in for myself and ends up being a big goal for a big win.”
|Tuukka Rask knows Bruins still seeking urgency: ‘I don’t think this is a great win for us, but we’ll take it’||at 9:25 am ET|
To Tuukka Rask, the glass Tuesday night was half full. He and his teammates sleepwalked through the second period as they have in many underachieving games this season and fell behind a desperate Panthers team smelling the chance to get back in the hunt for the final wild card spot in the East.
Then the Bruins woke up in the third, getting a fortunate goal from a very bad angle from Ryan Spooner and an admittedly lucky goal from Milan Lucic to escape with a hard-fought 3-2 win at TD Garden.
“Well, kind of frustrating,” said Rask, who allowed a weak five-hole goal of his own in the second period to former Bruin Brad Boyes that put the Panthers up 2-1. “Again, just wondering what’s going on there. There’s no emotion, and we needed to find it. We did, and a 40-minute game today got us the win, but obviously there’s wins that feel great and there’s wins you take and you feel good. I don’t think this is a great win for us, but we’ll take it for sure.”
When Milan Lucic scored with 69 seconds left in regulation, it turned out to be a crucial two points, as the B’s put themselves six points ahead of the Panthers and remained three points clear of the Senators in the race for the eighth and final spot.
From the get-go Tuesday, the Bruins appeared ready to show they were up to the task against a Florida team fighting to stay alive.
“First period was good,” Rask said. “They never really got anything great going there, but we were just so flat that it was kind of one of those games where something bad is about to happen and it did, and thank goodness it didn’t end up costing us. We showed in the third period, when we play like that it looks good and it’s going to benefit us. So just have to figure out and keep that going for 60 minutes.”
|Brad Marchand proves he still loves seeing Roberto Luongo between the pipes||11.05.14 at 1:52 am ET|
Marchand was the player who scored five goals against Vancouver in the 2011 Stanley Cup finals, four of which came against Luongo and the final one game on an empty net in Game 7 after he and the Bruins chased him from the game with under three minutes left.
On Tuesday, in a game much less significant, Marchand did it again to Luongo, this time at 3:27 of overtime on a spectacular goal to give the Bruins a 2-1 overtime win against the Florida Panthers at TD Garden. Marchand, who missed two great chances earlier in overtime, blew by defenseman Dylan Olsen, dragging the puck to Olsen’s left. On the other side, Marchand re-collected the puck and snapped one past Luongo’s blocker. Game over.
“Well he’s a big guy, and he fills a lot of the net,” Marchand said of Luongo. “He seems to battle hard, and cuts his angles down well. I mean he’s one of the top goalies in the league. He has been for a long time. It’s always tough when you play him.”
Asked specifically if he has more confidence against Luongo, Marchand didn’t dispute the obvious.
“Yeah, definitely. Anytime I go into a game and there’s a goalie that I score on more than others, I always feel confident in that situation,” Marchand admitted. “And tonight, I kind of felt the same way. You kind of hope at the same time that maybe luck will be on your side, but again, you want to try to be confident all the time, but it’s definitely something you can use to your advantage.”
If ever Shawn Thornton wanted a reminder of what he meant to Bruins fans over the last seven years, he got it in a 45-second tribute in the first period Tuesday night at TD Garden.
As they did with the return of Johnny Boychuk two weeks earlier, the Bruins gave a video tribute on the large monitors above center ice midway through the first period. It featured him holding up the Stanley Cup in 2011, scoring a goal and naturally some of his better fisticuffs over his time in black and gold.
He showed his appreciation by waving his stick in the air.
“It’s pretty touching you know,” Thornton said. “Very, very kind, very gentle. Gentle? That’s not the word I was looking for. To get a standing ovation in a visiting arena is pretty special and I appreciate it. The fans have always been great to me here and again tonight. It’s pretty nice.”
Thornton, who signed a two-year, $2.4 million deal on July 1, played 17 shifts and spent 14 minutes on the ice as coach Gerard Gallant used his whole bench. He finished with one shot, one takeaway and four hits, but no fights.
“Well, Turk rolls four lines so I think he has had confidence in our line all year,” Thornton said. “Again tonight was another case of that. I think it’s nice to have two guys in Mack [Derek MacKenzie] and Kopy [Tomas Kopecky] that I’m playing with, it makes life a little easier for me. It’s nice to have the trust in us to put us out there.”
|Tim Thomas gets a new teammate in Roberto Luongo and immediately ‘pumps his tires’||03.04.14 at 11:59 pm ET|
Tim Thomas couldn’t resist.
The opportunity to make a joke about the goaltender who was the butt of all Boston jokes in 2011 fell right in his lap when Roberto Luongo was traded from Vancouver to Florida on Tuesday, hours before the Wednesday 3 p.m. ET trade deadline.
“I did have one good line that probably somebody else has already thought of: It looked like [Panthers GM] Dale [Tallon] went kicking some tires and found one that needed pumping,” Thomas laughed.
Thomas, of course, was referring to an infamous comment Luongo made during the 2011 Stanley Cup finals.
Asked about how Thomas was carrying the Bruins on his back during the Bruins’ Cup run, Luongo famously said, “I’ve been pumping his tires ever since the series started and I haven’t heard one nice thing he had to say about me.”
Thomas replied, “I didn’t realize it was my job to pump his tires.”
Now, the two goalies are teammates thanks to a surprising deal in which the Panthers acquired Luongo in a trade with the Vancouver Canucks Tuesday afternoon. That wasn’t the only storyline of the trade as Luongo returns to the organization where he played from 2000-06.
For the record, Panthers GM Dale Tallon said he intends on keeping both goalies in Florida and rebuilding the franchise around them.
“It’ll be interesting, but you know what, I don’t know how things are going to work out, but assuming I’m staying in Florida, it’ll be interesting,” Thomas said. “I’m looking forward to it. It’ll be fun.”
Thomas insisted there are no hard feelings with Luongo.
“No, not at all,” Thomas said. “I wasn’t an enemy with him even [in 2011]. I was so focused on playing and doing my job and that’s the way I was looking at it. So, yeah, we’re both pros, both been in the league a long time. I have a few more years on him, obviously, but we both have a lot of experience to bring to the team.
“Surprised, obviously, at first just like probably a lot of people who were caught off guard and didn’t see that one coming,” Thomas said. “But then I had to get ready to play the game against obviously a difficult team.”
Thomas, on a one-year deal with the Panthers, said he can get along with Luongo.
“Yeah, of course,” Thomas said. “He’s a good goalie and from everything I’ve heard about him he’s got good character. I don’t know what their plans are. I don’t really know anything at this point. I can’t say too much.”
While Tallon did say he plans on keeping both, that didn’t stop speculation that Florida would eventually trade Thomas before the deadline to a contender. Thomas was asked if he would like to be traded to a contender now that Luongo is in Florida.
“Yeah, but now I’ve got to see the situation and see what they’re thinking. I’d like to check in with Dale before I comment on anything,” Thomas said.
What does Claude Julien think of all of this from afar?
“We’ll see if that’s still the case [Wednesday},” Julien said with a wide grin. “Maybe I can comment on it [Wednesday] after the deadline. Fair enough? I know it’s a lot of tire pumping.”
|Tuukka Rask: ‘Our heads were not in it at all’||03.14.13 at 10:50 pm ET|
Tuukka Rask stopped 29-of-30 shots and was voted the No. 1 star of Thursday’s 4-1 over the Panthers at TD Garden.
But Rask was hardly impressed with Boston’s 18th win of the season, especially when the Bruins allowed a short-handed goal in the second period and were fighting for their lives with the lowly, injury-riddled Panthers, who came in allowing an NHL-worst 101 goals.
“We were pretty bad out there at times,” Rask said. “Our heads were not in it at all. That short-handed goal tells a lot about that. I mean, weren’t that bad, defensively.”
The Panthers had the first five shots of the game before Boston rebounded to take a 16-11 advantage in shots after one. The Panthers then outworked the Bruins in the second, outshooting them, 12-7, and trailed just 2-1 after a shorty by Shawn Matthias.
“The first period I had a lot of shots,” Rask said. “It wasn’t that bad, despite the breakaway and a couple of turnovers, it wasn’t that bad. It was pretty clear where guys were coming from. Then, in the second period, it was just a mess. Pucks everywhere, guys were everywhere, there was no structure in our game. There are two different kind of scenarios for a goalie to face but in the third, we played a pretty solid period.
“We haven’t played our best hockey except for the Philly game. We’ve blown a couple of leads in the third and stuff like that. We should be aware of what’s coming at us in games like this. Today was a little sluggish. Our heads were not in it. It shouldn’t be catching us off-guard.
“It’s kind of like Ottawa. They had a similar situation. They just grind out it and try to get points and gritty goals and stuff like that. We knew that was coming. They played a pretty good game. They know our system. They have Rammer [Craig Ramsay] there as a coach so give them credit, too. But we just weren’t at our best.”
It was another milestone night at the Garden, this time for the Bruins. With the win, Claude Julien surpassed Milt Schmidt for second on the club’s all-time coaching wins list with victory No. 246. Art Ross (1924-1945) is far ahead in first, with 361 career wins for the Bruins. Now in his sixth season as Boston’s coach, Julien improved his record to 246-136-53 in 435 games.
The win improved the Bruins to 18-4-3 on the season and drew them to within one point of idle Montreal (40 points) for first place in the Eastern Conference standings, with two games in hand on the Canadiens.
Chara put the Bruins on top with a slap shot from the left point after a fluky bounce off the boards. The blast beat former Boston College goalie Scott Clemmensen and gave Boston a 1-0 lead 3:55 into the game.
The Bruins got three big saves from Rask in the first period, including a glove save on Jonathan Huberdeau midway through the period that protected Boston’s one-goal advantage.
Bergeron made it 2-0 when he took a perfect feed from Brad Marchand and one-timed the puck into the net vacated by Clemmensen on the right post. The Bruins appeared ready to take advantage of an injury-depleted Panthers team that has given up an NHL-worst 103 goals this season. But instead, the Bruins could not take advantage of several chances in the final two periods, including open nets for Milan Lucic and Nathan Horton.
The Bruins gave one of the goals back by allowing a rare shorthanded goal by Florida’s Shawn Matthias at 3:10 of the second period. Matthias outworked Dougie Hamilton for the loose puck deep in the Boston zone and the Florida forward beat Rask for the unassisted goal. It was the first short-handed goal allowed by the Bruins this season in 74 power plays.
With momentum swinging against them, the Bruins’ NHL-leading penalty-killing unit killed off a pair of Florida power plays to hold onto the lead.
The Bruins finally finished a chance, with the help of a lucky bounce midway through the final period. Shawn Thornton centered a pass from a bad angle from the right circle. The puck bounced off the skate of Florida defenseman Colby Robak and back to the slot. Thornton circled behind the net and collected the loose puck and put it in the net for his third goal of the season at 12:43 of the third period.
Bergeron scored his second of the game and eighth of the season on an empty-net tally with 57.2 seconds left for the final score of the night. The Bruins are off Friday before hosting the Capitals at 1 p.m at the Garden in the first of a Bruins-Celtics day-night doubleheader on Causeway Street.
For more from DJ Bean and Mike Petraglia, visit the Bruins team page at weei.com/bruins.