|Bruins take the ice for Sunday practice||03.20.11 at 11:21 am ET|
WILMINGTON — Ah, the rare Sunday practice. After an ugly 5-2 loss in Toronto Saturday, the B’s took the ice here at Ristuccia Arena in attempt to work out the issues that have made them losers of six of their last seven games (1-3-3).
|Tuukka Rask, Bruins beat Blue Jackets in shootout to snap skid||03.15.11 at 9:47 pm ET|
The Bruins fell behind in the final minute of the first period when Grant Clitsome sent a blast from the blue line past Rask, but a Zdeno Chara shot that went off David Krejci would tie it in the second. With the Bruins trailing in the third period and Nathan Horton in the box for holding the stick, Rich Peverley scored the B’s eighth shorthanded goal of the season, beating Steve Mason for his 16th goal of the season.
Rask, who had 32 saves in regulation, made timely saves in the third period in stopping Jakub Voracek, Antoine Vermette, Derick Brassard and Derek Dorsett on key Blue Jackets opportunities. He followed that by stopping Rick Nash and Fedor Tyutin in the shootout.
The Bruins will head to Nashville to face the Predators on Thursday.
WHAT WENT RIGHT FOR THE BRUINS
- While benching Michael Ryder may have opened some eyes, there’s no debating that the Bruins are in better shape for a shootout with Seguin in the lineup. The rookie has struggled to pin down the NHL game physically, but when it comes to skating down the ice untouched, talent trumps all.
- The Bruins may have not seen much time on the power play, but they scored more than Columbus on Blue Jackets power plays. The B’s killed off all six penalties they took, with Peverley scoring the timely short-handed goal.
- Either Milan Lucic or Krejci were bound to see their point streaks continue due to the B’s first goal, and after a scoring change it proved to be Krejci. Lucic hit Johnny Boychuk with a pass in the offensive zone, with Boychuk setting up a Chara blast that went off Krejci before sailing past Steve Mason. Though Lucic didn’t get an assist on the play, he still has six points (2 G, 4 A) in his last six games. Krejci now has at least one point in each of his last six games, and eight points (2 G, 6 A) over the span.
- Good to see Rask play the role of stopper, as he picked up the Bruins’ first win in five games. The Bruins’ four-game skid was the ninth time this season the team had lost at least two games in a row. Of the previous eight occurrences, Tim Thomas had gotten the win that followed the first five losing streaks, with Rask now serving as the stopper in the last four. That’s a combination of both coincidence and the fact that Claude Julien is giving his young goaltender more time down the stretch.
- Mark Recchi continues the climb up the list for most games played. Tuesday, he surpassed former Bruin Dave Andreychuk, and at 1,640 games, Recchi is now fifth all-time.
WHAT WENT WRONG FOR THE BRUINS
- The Bruins had just one power play in the game, and it lasted all of five seconds. Patrice Bergeron took an interference penalty following the face-off that began an Antione Vermette hooking minor. The team’s power play struggles have been well-documented (just one power play goal since Feb. 28), and having just five seconds on the man advantage isn’t exactly the right way to remedy them.
- Scottie Upshall continues to haunt Rask. Nice puck-movement by his line drew Rask way out of his net with less than eight minutes to go, and Upshall easily put his 20th of the season into an unoccupied net. The goal was his third goal against Rask in three games facing him.
- That’s now two games in a row in which Nathan Horton has taken a penalty in the final seven minutes of the game with the Bruins trailing. Horton was called for interference at 13:12 of the third period against the Islanders on Saturday, and he went off at 13:06 for holding the stick. Of course, the Bruins ended up tying the game with Horton in the box, but it certainly isn’t the type of habit the B’s want to develop. Krejci would later be called for a cross-check with 4:34 remaining.
|Nathan Horton has Bruins leading Sabres, 1-0||03.10.11 at 7:42 pm ET|
Horton scored his 19th over the year at 8:54, finishing a 3-on-2 with Milan Lucic and Krejci getting the assists. The play came about thanks to nice work by Adam McQuaid in breaking it out of the Bruins’ zone.
The period featured a fight between Gregory Campbell and Cody McCormick, with the Sabres forward winning the bought. Each team had power plays that lasted just seconds, as Tyler Myers went to the box for tripping just five seconds after Shawn Thornton went off for interference.
Tim Thomas had an impressive period, making big saves on Jordon Leopold and Jason Pominville, the latter of which he made by quickly sliding from side to side to rob the Bruins killer (eight points in five games vs. Boston this season).
The B’s are outshooting the Sabres, 15-11.
|When it comes to the Bruins’ recent stretch, top line has been tops||03.07.11 at 6:53 pm ET|
As has been well-documented, the Bruins have had plenty of success lately, earning at least one point in each of their last eight games (7-0-1). The stretch has brought them within two points of the top spot in the Eastern Conference and has made believers out of whatever non-believers still existed.
There may be no one factor that has helped the team more over their last eight than the fact that the top line is really clicking, and has been producing to their potential for the last few weeks.
Since the beginning of the season, the line of Milan Lucic, David Krejci and Nathan Horton has had its ups and downs. Individual players have gone on tears, while others have remained a few degrees away from heating up. Horton had a stretch of 20 games in which he scored just one goal. Lucic went 12 games straight without burying one. Krejci saw a stretch in which he had one point over seven games. There was a boom-or-bust nature to the line, but it’s been booming of late.
Both Krejci and Lucic, the latter of whom leads the Bruins with a career-high 28 goals, have 11 points over their last eight games. Horton has averaged a point per game over the last eight, scoring four goals in the process. Plus, the line has been producing tallies that count. Horton provided the only goal of the game in last Tuesday’s 1-0 win over the Senators. Lucic scored the game-winner Thursday against the Lightning in the third period, while Krejci tied Saturday’s game against the Penguins with 32.5 seconds remaining in regulation. Things haven’t always gone right for the top line, but they are now.
‘I think the main thing is that we’re having fun again,’ Lucic said Monday. ‘It seemed like there was a time there where things weren’t really going our way and we were kind of fighting the puck, but since after the All-Star break, it seems like we’ve found that chemistry once again. We’re having fun and playing with confidence too.
‘Every time we get the puck on our stick, we know where the other guy is and you know that if the guy sees you, he’s going to make that play and put the puck on your stick. I think that’s why we’re having success thus far.’
Whether or not the top line can sustain their output may prove to be critical to the team’s postseason success. Their offense has produced consistently this season, but no line has the ability to wear down the opposition like the highly skilled Krejci line. The Bruins saw what happened when Krejci went down in the Philadelphia series last year, and Claude Julien has intimated throughout the season that he holds the 24-year-old pivot to a very high standard. He hopes that their recent success can remind them of how big an impact they can have.
‘I think right now they’re feeling pretty good about their game,’ Julien said Monday. ‘The fact that every one of them is competing is extremely hard had certainly been a key to their success. Right now, they’re reaping the benefits.
‘Once you see what you can get out of those kind of efforts, you want to keep doing it. They like what they see, they like what’s happening to them, and hopefully they’ll want to keep it going.’
|Bruins come back but lose to Penguins in overtime||03.05.11 at 9:35 pm ET|
The Bruins fell to the Penguins, 3-2, in overtime Saturday night, stopping their winning streak at seven games.
The Penguins, who have been without star forwards Evgeni Malkin and Sidney Crosby, picked up just their second victory in their last eight games, largely on the strength of two tallies from Dustin Jeffreys, the last of which decided the game at 1:52 of overtime.
Of course, in some ways, the Bruins were fortunate to get a single point. With the Bruins trailing, 2-1, and Tim Thomas pulled, Tomas Kaberle blocked a shot from Boston nemesis Matt Cooke the B’s moved the puck up the ice and attacked the Pittsburgh goal, with David Krejci scoring with 32.5 seconds left to tie the game and send it to overtime.
Zdeno Chara opened the game’s scoring, taking a pass from Krejci and firing a wrist shot past Penguins goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury for his 11th goal of the season. Chara’s goal came at 7:26 of the second period, though a Penguins 2-on-1 less than three minutes later would result in a Jordan Staal goal to tie it up at 10:09. The Penguins would take the lead at 11:19 on Jeffreys’ sixth goal of the season.
Thomas took the loss for the Bruins, falling to 29-8-7 on the season. The Bruins will next play on Tuesday, when they travel to Montreal to face the Canadiens for the fifth time this season.
WHAT WENT WRONG FOR THE BRUINS
- There may not be a more frustrating penalty for a team to take than too-many-men on the ice, and the Bruins did just that in the first minute of the second period. Milan Lucic served the bench minor at 0:53, though the Penguins did not capitalize on the power play.
That wasn’t the extent of the frustrating penalties for the Bruins, as Lucic would go off for hooking at 14:49 of the third with the B’s trailing by a goal. Like the too-many-men penalty, it didn’t end up proving costly on the scoreboard, though it chopped two minutes off a comeback bid.
- The infusion of Kaberle into the power play still hasn’t led to the results the Bruins need. The B’s found themselves with a man advantage just once on the night, and in failing to convert have now gone 1-for-17 on the power play since acquiring Kaberle. Again, it isn’t a case of the power play looking necessarily bad, as Kaberle’s passes have made him appear as advertised. The lack of finishing touch, however, remains a big problem for the unit.
- The winning streak wasn’t going to last forever, but the Bruins had a chance to come within a point of the Flyers for the top spot in the Eastern Conference. The Flyers lost to the Sabres, 5-3, on Saturday and have dropped their last three game. They’ve gone 2-4-1 in their last seven, so the Bruins have been able to gain on them significantly of late.
WHAT WENT RIGHT FOR THE BRUINS
- In begin credited with the assists on Chara’s goal and contributing the equalizer, Krejci and Lucic each have 11 points over their last eight games. Krejci, who hit Chara with a nice pass at the blue line, has two goals and nine assists over the span, while Lucic has scored five and gotten six helpers.
- Remember Chara’s fun Peter Bondra-inspired celebration when he picked up a hat trick against the Hurricanes on Jan. 17? That was the last time he had scored until Saturday. Chara broke a 19-game goal-less streak with his wrister from the high slot.
- The Bruins, who have battled back in the third period many a time this season, did so again. After the Penguins outshot Boston by a 29-10 count through two periods, the Bruins put more pucks on the net than Pittsburgh in the third. Matt Cooke had the opportunity to bury the game with an empty-netter, but his bid was blocked.
|Milan Lucic plays hero in win over Lightning||03.03.11 at 9:28 pm ET|
Milan Lucic kept up his recent hot streak and improved the Bruins’ win streak to seven games by scoring the game-winning goal at 16:18 of the third in a 2-1 victory over the Lightning at TD Garden.
Lucic, who had eight points over the B’s recent six-game road trip, fired a wrist shot past both a mess of bodies and Lightning goaltender Mike Smith at an odd angle to give him his 28th goal of the season and the Bruins a big victory. With the win, the Bruins now lead the Lightning by two points for second place in the Eastern Conference.
Eric Brewer opened the scoring in the game, beating Tim Thomas at 4:04 of the second for his ninth goal of the season. Steven Kampfer responded with his his fifth of the season at 6:06. Kampfer would later take a big hit in the corner from Mattias Ritola and not return to the game.
Thomas made 27 saves and picked up the victory, improving to 29-8-6 on the season.
WHAT WENT RIGHT FOR THE BRUINS
- Kampfer did a good job of both redeeming himself and scoring his first goal in quite a while. After his turnover in the Bruins’ zone led to Brewer’s goal, he responded in short order by beating Smith with a snapshot from the point to tie the score at one. It was Kampfer’s fifth goal of the season, and first since Jan. 13. His status after leaving the game, however, is unclear.
- It was a good home debut for Rich Peverley and Chris Kelly, both of whom have been able to strike up good chemistry on their line with Michael Ryder. Both Kelly and Peverley, donning home sweaters for the first time at TD Garden, were credited with a helper on Kampfer’s goal and were a plus-1 on the night.
- Johnny Boychuk was crushing people. He laid a huge hip check on Nate Thompson in the third and followed it up with a big hit in the corner on Blair Jones.
WHAT WENT WRONG FOR THE BRUINS
- When things get chippy between the Bruins and their opponents, the obvious way to settle it is by dropping the gloves. The Lightning aren’t that kind of team (they’re 27th in the league in major penalties while the B’s are 4th), and it seemed the only way the B’s could find a fight was to wind up shorthanded. That was the case in the second period, when a Nathan Horton trip and Lucic roughing penalty resulted in Lucic dropping the gloves with Brewer. The B’s wound up having to kill a 5-on-3, but they did so successfully.
- Once again, the power play looked very good despite the fact that it didn’t get results. Still, sooner or later, results are how that facet must be judged. The B’s were 0-for-3 on the man advantage Thursday, and they’re now 1-for-16 since acquiring Tomas Kaberle, who looked good in keeping the puck in during Brewer’s high sticking penalty but also sent the puck out with a blind pass. Still, the unit appeared to be vastly improved, and it’s hard to imagine results not coming in the near future.
- Smith entered the game with a 3.20 goals against average, but he sure didn’t play like it. The Lightning netminder came up with huge saves throughout the night, robbing Patrice Bergeron in the first, Horton on a breakaway in the second and Brad Marchand in the slot in the third.
Things got ramped up a bit (both scoring-wise and otherwise) in the second period, and the Bruins and Lightning are tied at one goal apiece entering the third.
From a goals perspective, it was a tale of two Steve Kampfers. The rookie blueliner couldn’t get the puck out of the Bruins’ zone just over four minutes into the period, and the play resulted in Eric Brewer beating Tim Thomas for his ninth goal of the season at 3:04. Kampfer would make up for it, as he scored his fifth of the season with a blast from the point at 6:06. Chris Kelly and Rich Peverley, both making their home debut as Bruins, picked up assists on the play.
The Bruins have shown throughout the season that they can handle the high intensity, high physicality games. They’ve done so against some of the tougher teams in the league, and it seems they’re trying to do the same against a team that isn’t known for dropping the gloves.
There was a lot of chippy play in the second period Thursday night (some of which even came from Martin St. Louis) and it finally culminated in a fight when Milan Lucic tangoed with Brewer at 10:10. While seemingly a potential momentum-booster in a tied game at first glance, the play resulted in the Lightning getting a two-man advantage. Nathan Horton had tripped Sean Bergenheim, and when Bergenheim responded, Lucic jumped in and was eventually assessed a roughing minor. The B’s ended up killing off the 5-on-3.
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