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Bruins cannot bottle Lightning in loss 03.25.10 at 9:34 pm ET
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Summary — The Bruins could not bottle up the Lightning at TD Garden en route to a 5-3 loss on Thursday night. Tuukka Rask took the loss by allowing five goals on 18 shots after coming into the game the NHL leader in goals against average at 2.02. Antero Niittmaki shut down a Bruins attack that mustered an astounding 50  shots but only the three goals.

Tampa Bay came out of the gates hot. Just 49-seconds into the game  Steve Downie fed Steve Stamkos coming down the slot right at Rask. Downie put it right on Stamkos’s tape and it was any easy goal. There was a mild controversy if Stamkos was offsides on the rush but no ruling was made. The Lightning would go up two ate in the first period when Dennis Seidenberg botched a pass to Michael Ryder rolling up the right wing that turn Vincent Lecavalier instantly turned for a break the other way. Lecavalier would shoot/pass from the wing to a rushing Martin St. Louis. The puck and St. Louis reached Rask at the same time and the forward won the battle and slipped the puck into the net at 18:05.

Boston would gain one of those goals back with 26.8 seconds left in the first period. David Krejci battled on the half-wall to win the puck and passed the puck in front of Niittymaki onto the stick of Zdeno Chara who deflected it through the crease to cut the Lightning lead in half.

Tampa pushed its advantage back to two in the front half of the second period when Paul Szcezchura spotted the puck on a turnover in the Bruins zone on the right circle and sent a shot on Rask that was stopped but slipped through the crease somehow to make it 3-1 at 6:50.

Johnny Boychuk got the goal back for Boston at 10:42 in the second when he beat Niittymaki through a stretching, far side five hole for his fifth of the season.

Stamkos struck again within a minute of the end of the second period on the power play when he fired a one-time rocket from the top of the left circle that streaked through traffic and passed Rask to make the score 4-2.

Szczechura got his second of the game at 3:00 in the third on the power play when he took a feed from St. Louis in the slot in front of Rask and beat the goalie high glove side to make it a three goal Tampa advantage. Boston closed it to two at 11:50 when Mark Recchi scored his 16th of the season by banging the puck into the net from the within the crease.

Three Stars

Steven Stamkos — An impressive effort by the 20-year-old former No.1 overall pick. He was a constant thorn in the Bruins side en route to a two goal performance that gave him 45 for the season.

Paul Szczechura — The Lightning center scored his fourth and fifth goals of the season in his 48th game of the year for Tampa.

David Krejci — The Bruins center looked a lot like his 2008-09 self as he set up the Bruins first two goals and was active with the puck all game long.

Turning Point — Stamkos’ second goal at the end of the second period stopped any chance of a comeback that the Bruins may have had as it increased the Lightning lead back to two goals. The Bruins are 3-22-0 (including Thursday) this season when they trail by two goalsl at any time during a game.

Key Play — The the Bruins biggest breakdown of the game cost them on what turned out to be Szczechura’s first of the game in the second period. The Lightning chased the puck into the Bruins zone and maintained a forecheck that ended up with Bruins defenseman Andrew Ference attempting to clear the puck from behind the goal line that ended up right on the stick of a charging Szchechura. All the center needed to do was wind up and fire. Rask stopped it initially but the shot’s momentum carried it through the crease.

Read More: David Krejci, Johnny Boychuk, Mark Recchi, Martin St. Louis
The Hat Trick: Bruins finish strong 03.16.10 at 10:21 pm ET
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The Bruins apparently now get it.

They understand that the season hinges on every single game, every single shot and every single shift. On Tuesday night, with a 5-2 road win over Carolina in Raleigh, N.C., they showed just 24 hours after a slow start doomed them to a 3-2 loss to New Jersey they can bounce back and finish a season-long trip on a positive note.

And they showed their ultimate focus, while the hockey world is focused on Thursday’s potential “revenge” game against Matt Cooke and the Penguins at TD Garden. It’s a contest that fans have circled and highlighted since Marc Savard was lost to an elbow/shoulder from Cooke on March 7.

The Bruins have 74 points and solidified their hold on eighth place in the Eastern Conference. They have two huge home games coming up with the Penguins and then the Rangers at 12:30 p.m. Sunday on national television.

The Bruins wasted no time showing they meant business. We’ll do the same in breaking down a win that gave the Bruins a 3-3-1 road trip.

STARTING FAST, FINISHING STRONG

Dennis Seidenberg set the tempo of the game right out of the chute when his shot from the right point was redirected past Manny Legace by Patrice Bergeron just 23 seconds into the game. Seidenberg’s play was typical of the Bruins defensemen all night as they jumped into the play to jump-start the offense.

The starting fast theme continued two periods later when goalie Tuukka Rask stopped Jussi Jokinen and Eric Staal in the opening 30 seconds of the third as the Hurricanes were trying to convert a power play to tie the game. Instead, the Bruins came back with a rush of their own and capped it when Mark Recchi scored 45 seconds into the final period.

The Bruins twice had two-goal leads, at 2-0 and 3-1, and both times, Carolina cut it to one. But on this night, the Bruins found the finishing kick.

Michael Ryder took advantage of  a horrendous turnover by the Canes and ripped off a one-timer that made it 4-2. David Krejci’s spin-o-rama job with 7:33 remaining put the game on ice and allowed the Bruins to finally look ahead to their grudge match with Cooke and the Penguins on Thursday at the Garden.

SPREADING THE WEALTH

The Bruins had five different goal-scorers on Tuesday night. Starting with Bergeron, and continuing with Johnny Boychuk, Mark Recchi, Michael Ryder and David Krejci, the Bruins spread it around on Tuesday. What was evident was that every line was skating hard. That, combined with the defensemen jumping into the play made for a formidable and productive combination.

Yes, the Bruins were again out to lunch on the power play, going 0-for-4. But that was offset by their five-on-five scoring chances.

FINGERS CROSSED FOR BERGY

With just under three minutes remaining in a game that was going entirely the way of the Bruins, they had a reminder of just how frustrating this season has been. Mark Stuart picked up a loose puck at the left point, just inside Carolina’s blue line, and rifled a shot toward the net. Patrice Bergeron, as he did on the game’s first goal, got in front of Legace to run interference. But unlike Seidenberg’s well-placed drive, Stuart’s blast elevated quickly and caught Bergeron on the inside of his right knee.

Fortunately, x-rays following the game on Bergeron’s leg were negative but the shot was sure to have left a mark just the way Bergeron has on the Bruins offense all season. Bergeron, as head coach Claude Julien has pointed out all season, has been the single-most consistent player on the roster and they can ill-afford to lose him and Savard coming down the stretch.

Read More: Bruins, Colin Campbell, Hurricanes, Mark Recchi
Bruins soar over Flyers 03.11.10 at 9:31 pm ET
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Summary — The Bruins are chasing the Flyers in the playoff standings and did themselves a big favor on Thursday night by breaking down Philadelphia for a 5-1 win at the Wachovia Center. Tuukka Rask got the start for the Bruins and earned his 15th victory with 31 of saves. Michael Leighton started for the Flyers and allowed four goals on 25 shots and left the game in the second period in favor of Brian Boucher.

Boston used a three-goal second period to separate themselves from the Flyers. With the score tied at one, Patrice Bergeron and Mark Recchi got together at 4:37. Bergeron took a feed off the wall from defenseman Dennis Seidenberg and flipped the puck to Recchi rushing close to Leighton on the left wing. Leighton went down, Recchi went high and it was 2-1 Boston. Bergeron then made it 3-1 by returning a puck to the net after a Matt Hunwick shot from the point that bounced off Leighton’s chest. The fourth came courtesy of David Krejci who was the recipent of a good string of passes from Blake Wheeler to Michael Ryder to Krejci in front of the net who turn, hesitated and beat Leighton at 11:16 for the three-goal advantage.

Boston forward Blake Wheeler got Boston on the board to lead off the scoring in the first period when he took a feed from center David Krejci on a 3-on-2 break at 13:15. Wheeler side-stepped defender Lukas Krajicek and deposited a backhander past Leighton for the goal advantage.

The Flyers tied it on the power play early in the second period (Seidenberg — boarding) when Jeff Carter hit a one-timer from the dot that Rask did not have much a chance on to tie it before the Bruins broke out.

Marco Sturm scored a goal in the third period to account for the final score.

Miroslav Satan did not play for the Bruins with what has been reported as as groin injury. Captain Zdeno Chara returned to the lineup after missing one game with a lower body injury.

Three Stars

Patrice Bergeron — It would be much easier to just give the Bergeron’s whole line a single, large star for the week and be done with it. Bergeron had a goal and an assist to continue his hot streak with two goals and two assists in the last two games.

David Krejci — Krejci set up the first goal with a hustle play and score the fourth with good presence in front of the net and looks like he may be finally rounding into form the Bruins have been expecting all year.

Blake Wheeler — The ying to Krejci’s yang on the night also had a goal and an assist to help spur the Bruins effort.

Turning Point — The Bruins do not see a lot of two-goal leads these days. On Tuesday they had three separate one-goal leads and eventually blew every one of them and then the game. Not so on Thursday against the Flyers. The third goal of the night gave the Bruins a lead they could be comfortable with. Hunwick hit a slap shot from the left point that got tied up in front of the net and popped onto the stick of Bergeron who flipped it back at Leighton and in.

Key Play — Two-goal leads? How about three-goal leads? The Bruins have not scored more than three goals in a game since they had five against Tampa Bay before the Olympic break. Boston has spent a lot of practice time in the last few months working on creating goals in front of the net through deflections, rebounds and overall aggressive play in the crease. Krejci did just that when he took a pass from Ryder and skated around Leighton for the fourth goal of the game.

Read More: Blake Wheeler, David Kreci, Marco Sturm, Mark Recchi
Second period summary: Bruins-Flyers at 8:40 pm ET
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The pattern continues …

Or does it?

The Flyers did not waste anytime mounting their comeback from a goal back. Bruins defenseman Dennis Seidenberg went to the box 40 seconds into the second period for boarding. The ensuing faceoff came in Boston’s zone and Flyers’ sharp shooter Jeff Carter found the puck on the left circle for a one-timer that beat Tuukka Rask at :44.

The Bruins went back up, just like they did numerous times against Toronto on Tuesday. Patrice Bergeron found Mark Recchi closing in on Michael Leighton from the left wing on the rush. Leighton went down for the shot, Recchi went up and it was 2-1 at 4:37.

This is where the pattern breaks.

Whereas in against the Maple Leafs the Bruins kept on letting Toronto come back, the Bruins are burying Leighton and the Flyers heading into the third. The lead burgeoned from one to three by the 11:16 mark when David Krejci got his second point of the night after a feed from Blake Wheeler and Michael Ryder.

Really, the equation has looked simple. Get in front of Leighton and try to make a play. The third goal was a rebound put back by Patrice Bergeron off a heavy shot from the point by Matt Hunwick at 10:30. Krejci’s goal was a matter of sitting in front of Leighton, getting the puck, waiting a half-second to let Leighton get himself out of position and depositing the puck to the scoring bank.

The game heads to the third with a 4-1 score in Boston’s favor.

Shots through second period (total):

Bruins — 14 (27)

Flyers -16 (23)

Read More: Blake Wheeler, David Krejci, Mark Recchi, Michael Ryder
Bruins cannot hold leads, fall to Maple Leafs 03.09.10 at 9:42 pm ET
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Summary – Without two of their biggest stars the Bruins struggled to put the Maple Leafs away on Tuesday and ultimately fell to Toronto 4-3 in overtime. Nikolai Kulemin had the game-winner for the Leafs with 49-seconds left in the extra frame. Tim Thomas started for the Bruins and took the decision with 26 saves. The Leafs went with Jonas Gustavsson who was shaky but effective in stopping 26 of shots in the winning effort.

Bruins’ captain Zdeno Chara was scratched for the game with a lower body injury. Center Marc Savard missed his first game after sustaining a grade two concussion after a hit from Pittsburgh’s Matt Cooke on Sunday.

Mark Recchi scored his 13th goal of the year in the first period when he caught the rebound off a Dennis Seidenberg shot from the point and banged it back into the net with Gustavsson out of position to the left of the crease. The Bruins killed three penalties in the period (one a 50-second 5-on-3) to stymy the Leafs chances heading into the second period.

The Leafs tied it in the middle of the second when Wayne Primeau found himself on an odd-man rush and beat Thomas five hole for Toronto’s first strike of the game. Boston went back ahead with on the power play during a two-man advantage when Dennis Wideman hit a slap shot from the point that deflected off Recchi’s stick straight on to that of Marco Sturm who banged it passed Gustavsson to make it 2-1 at the 13:49.

Once again, it would not last.

The Leafs Carl Gunnarsson broke back with his second goal of the season on a shot from the top of the circle that deflected off a Bruins’ player to make its way through Thomas to send send the game to the third tied at two.

The back and forth theme continued in the third. Patrice Bergeron scored a go-ahead goal on a rebound early in the period only to watch the Leafs come back when Luca Caputi swept a bouncing puck passed Thomas at 7:13. It was the third time in the game the Bruins went ahead by a goal only to have the Leafs tie it.

Three Stars

Mark Recchi — The veteran forward had a goal and two assists to help pace the Bruins.

Luke Schenn — The Leafs defenseman picked up two assists to give him 10 for the season.

Marco Sturm — Sturm scored his team-high 20th of the season and added an assist. It is the seventh time in his career that Sturm has registered a 20-goal season.

Turning Point — Caputi battled in the crease with Thomas and Boston defenseman Mark Stuart for a loose puck seven minutes into the third period. Thomas could not corral the bouncing puck and Stuart was a step to slow in trying to clear it and Caputi swept back into the play to push it passed Thomas and tie the game at three.

Key Play — Toronto center Mikhail Grabovski raced down the left wing in overtime and had enough time and space to pick out Kulemin on a parallel rush down the center towards Thomas. Grabovski made a good pass, Kulemin took a step to his left and beat Thomas for the game winner.

Read More: Jonas Gustavsson, Marco Sturm, Mark Recchi, Nikolai Kulemin
Second period summary: Bruins-Leafs at 8:34 pm ET
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The Bruins keep banging on the Leafs and are trying to push in the offensive zone but, like it has been all year, goals are hard to come by. Toronto goaltender Jonas Gustavsson has not been spectacular but he has been good enough against Boston’s anemic attack to keep the Leafs in the game.

All the effort in the offensive zone puts extra pressure on Bruins’ goaltender Tim Thomas and it came back to bite them when Wayne Primeau found himself on and odd-man break in the middle of the period. Primeau blasted from the right wing and it beat Thomas five hole to tie the game at one at 10:34.

But the Bruins got it back. After killing off a 5-on-3 in the first period, Boston got a two-man advantage of its own when Jeff Finger (holding) and Luke Schenn (delay of game) went to the penalty box. The Bruins had 25 seconds to score but only used 13 when Dennis Wideman hit a shot from the point that deflected off Mark Recchi’s stick straight on to that of Marco Sturm who put it away to put Boston on top once again. The score was Sturm’s team-leading 20th of the year, the seventh 20-goal season of the year.

The Leafs came back at the end of the period when Carl Gunnarsson hit a shot from the top of the circle that directed off a Bruins’ player through traffic that was enough to beat Thomas and tie the game heading into the third.

Shots through second (total):

Bruins — 11 (21)

Leafs — 8 (13)

Read More: Dennis Wideman, Marco Sturm, Mark Recchi,
First period summary: Bruins-Leafs at 7:40 pm ET
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Without two of their best players the Bruins look . . .

Pretty good.

The forecheck looks good, the penalty kill is clicking right along and even the offense chipped in.

Boston is without Marc Savard (concussion) and Zdeno Chara (lower body injury) but so far it has controlled the pace and tempo against the Maple Leafs in Toronto. Granted, the Leafs have the second-to-last record in the league, but positive signs are encouraging nonetheless.

Mark Recchi Patrice Bergeron got the Bruins offense going right off the bat. Dennis Seidenberg hit a heavy slap shot from the point that banged off of Leafs’ goaltender Jonas Gustavsson chest protector directly back in front of the net while Gustavvsson was pulled to the left of the crease leaving the net wide open for Recchi to come in and sweep the puck in for the early lead at 2:47.

Boston then gave the Leafs a great chance to get that goal back when first Blake Wheeler (hooking) then Mark Stuart (tripping) went to the penalty box to give Toronto a 50-second two-man advantage. The Bruins have the best penalty kill in the league but without Zdeno Chara for the game (lower body injury), penalties could be problematic.

Or not.

The Maple Leafs only managed one official shot with the two consecutive penalties and the Bruins recovered to dominate the on both ends of the ice throughout the period.

Boston gave the Leafs another opportunity on the power play when Milan Lucic went for hooking at 16:14 but the Bruins were able to kill it. Toronto is now 0-17 on the man-advantage against Boston this season.

Shots through the first period:

Boston — 10

Toronto — 5

UPDATE — There has been a scoring change and Patrice Bergeron will get credit for the goal as opposed to Recchi. Both players were right in front to bang on it and got to the puck at the same time. Recchi picks up an assist.

Read More: Blake Wheeler, Dennis Seidenberg, Mark Recchi, Mark Stuart
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