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Bruins trash Thrashers, look towards spring hockey 03.23.10 at 9:28 pm ET
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Summary — In what was essentially a playoff game the Bruins trounced the Thrashers 4-0 at Phillips Arena in Atlanta. The Thrashers started the night one point behind the Bruins and could have jumped them for the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference with a regulation time win but Tuukka Rask came up big to blank Atlanta with 27 saves. Johan Hedberg could not do his team the same favor as he allowed four goals on 33 shots in the loss.

The Bruins struck first. Michael Ryder took a wrist shot from right in front of Hedberg that the goaltender could not corral and the bouncing puck made its way through the crease to where David Krejci could sneak in from the back side to tap it on through into the net at 9:25 in the first period.

Boston would add to the lead in the second when Milan Lucic tallied his eighth of the season. Lucic took a pass from David Krejci off the wing in the middle slot and let out a wrist shot that beat Hedberg glove side high to give the Bruins a 2-0 lead.

With time expiring in the second period the Thrashers were caught with one skate heading towards the locker room when Patrice Bergeron won a face off after an Atlanta icing and sent the puck back to Zdeno Chara who hit a one-time slap shot on goal that was tipped by Miroslav Satan to give the Bruins a three goal lead that they would not relinquish.

Steve Begin got in on the scoring party in the third period when Milan Lucic took a long shot from the blue line off a face off that Hedberg could not control leading to a wide open net on his stick side that Begin was able to blast the puck into for the Bruins fourth unanswered score. It was Begin’s first goal in 28 games and fourth of the season.

Three Stars –

David Krejci — Scored the opening goal of the game for this 15th of the season and set up Lucic for the second, separating goal with a pass off the end boards that ended up on Lucic’s stick.

Tuukka Rask — The Bruins emerging goaltender won his 18th of the year in a game where he was never seriously challenged to put the Thrashers away.

Milan Lucic — The hulking forward has been taking big strides in recent games as he returns to pre-injury form. He scored the second goal of the game and assisted on the fourth.

Turning Point –  Satan’s goal at the very end of the second period was a psyche breaker for a Thrashers team that had billed this game as the “biggest in franchise history.” It was the type of goal that coaches cannot stand as it was a quick face off turn slap shot turn goal with mere seconds left in the period.

Key Play — Lucic was expected to make big strides in his third year with the Bruins but has been hampered by injuries and inconsistency throughout the year as he has dealt with a bum ankle. His second period goal gave the Bruins separation from the Thrashers and proved that Lucic is finally rounding back into form as he has played two very solid games in a row for Boston.

Read More: David Krejci, Johan Hedberg, Milan Lucic, Miroslav Satan
Second period summary: Bruins-Thrashers at 8:36 pm ET
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Boston is taking its own fate into its hands.

Maxim Afinogenov went to the penalty box at 1:29 in the second period for holding the stick of Dennis Seidenberg to give the Bruins the first power play of the game for either team. Though, like it has been since Marc Savard went down on March 7, Boston could not spur any offense on the man-advantage, mustering one shot in the process. After the Thrashers’s kill Boston was 1 for 20 on the power play since Savard was injured.

Despite the inefficiencies on the power play, Boston’s 5-on-5 play, a facet of the team’s game that has not exactly been a strength this year, came through for the Bruins at 7:29. David Krejci fed Milan Lucic with time and space in the mid-slot that allowed Lucic to unload a wrist shot that beat Hedberg over his glove side to make it 2-0.

The Thrashers had a chance late in the period when Colby Armstrong snuck into the Bruins zone and took a pass with a head of steam to march right in on Tuukka Rask for the point blank opportunity. Dennis Wideman, burnt by Armstrong coming down the wing, had to reach in for a hooking penalty to stop Armstrong’s opportunity. Though, instead of awarding the power play the referees decided to give Atlanta a penalty shot, the second in as many games (Daniel Paille had one against the Rangers on Sunday). Rask turned Armstrong’s shot away with his glove as the shot was headed wide anyway.

Boston struck again right at the end of the period. Patrice Bergeron won a face off and sent the puck back to Zdeno Chara on the point through traffic that may or may not have touched Miroslav Satan’s stick on its way passed Hebberg for the 3-0 lead with one skate already heading to the locker room.

Shots through second (total):

Bruins: 12 (22)

Thrashers: 10 (17)

Read More: Colby Armstrong, David Krejci, Johan Hedberg, Milan Lucic
First period summary: Bruins-Thrashers at 7:41 pm ET
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Tuesday’s contest basically amounts to a playoff game between the Bruins and the Thrashers in Atlanta. The Thrashers start the night one point behind the Bruins for the final playoff and an outright win would see them jump Boston in the standings.

Boston is doing its best to make sure that does not happen.

After a slow start Boston broke for the first goal when a Bruins shot got caught in traffic through the crease in front of Thrashers’ goaltender Johan Hedberg. Blake Wheeler and Michael Ryder started banging around on the puck causing it to bounce to the far side of the crease where David Krejci snuck in from behind the goal line to pound it home for the goal advantage at 9:25.

After that the Bruins started gaining more opportunities and taking the momentum away from the Thrashers in their home at Phillips Arena. To try and stop that momentum the Thrashers forward Eric Boulton signaled Bruins enforcer Shawn Thornton for a fight at 11:00. Boulton got his arm caught in his sleeve to start the fight and Thornton got a couple of shots in before the pair skated at center ice in a draw before Thornton tugged Boulton’s sweater over his head to end it.

Overall the compete level for each team is relatively high, as it should be at this juncture in the season but Boston leads 1-0 heading into the second.

Shots through first:

Boston – 10

Atlanta – 7

Read More: David Krejci, Eric Boulton, Johan Hedberg, Shawn Thornton
Bruins 4, Thrashers 2, Final 12.13.08 at 5:26 pm ET
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Best battle of the night with 3:46 left in the third when 6’9″ Zdeno Chara went up against Atlanta’s Boris Valabik, who stands 6’7″, with Saturday Night’s Alright for Fighting roaring over the loudspeakers. Valabik grew up in Chara’s homeland of Slovakia, styling his game after Chara.

Full disclosure, neither pugilist landed any significant blows.

But Dennis Wideman did when he connected for his second power play goal of the night, beating Johan Hedberg at 18:16 of the second period.

Phil Kessel collected his own rebound on a power play shot on Atlanta’s Johan Hedberg. The Thrashers goalie stopped the first but not the second at 6:00 of the first as Kessel lit the lamp for the 19th time this season.

Not only does that figure far and away lead the team, it already matches his career best set last season and extends his point streak to 15 games.

Michael Ryder added his ninth of the season at 13:43 even strength, a weak backhand that was mishandled by Hedberg.

The Bruins had a golden chance to break open the game but Hedberg came up big on a five-on-three Boston power play for one minute, 37 seconds.

The Thrashers turned that momentum into a goal when Nathan Oystrick fired a slap shot from the left point through a mass of bodies infront of Manny Fernandez, cutting Boston’s lead in half.

Some notes at the end of one…

The Bruins are 9-2-1 when they lead after one this season.

The Thrashers are 1-10-1 when they trail after one.

The Bruins have outscored their opponents 66-37 in the second and third periods this season.

Martins Karsums is playing his first NHL game tonight and is on the fourth line with Vladimir Sobotka and Shawn Thornton.

Read More: Boston Bruins, Johan Hedberg, Phil Kessel,
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