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Bruins beat Panthers behind Milan Lucic hat trick and Tuukka Rask shutout 11.18.10 at 9:30 pm ET
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On a night that was seemingly all about Nathan Horton and Gregory Campbell, Milan Lucic stole the show with his second career hat trick in a 4-0 Bruins victory over the Panthers at TD Garden.

Lucic and the first line provided the majority of the offense for the Bruins, beating Panthers goaltender Tomas Vokoun on a goal assisted by former Panthers third overall pick Nathan Horton. He added another from virtually the same spot in the third and made it a hat trick seconds later, stuffing in a rebound to make it 3-0. With the game, Lucic reached 10 goals, surpassing Horton (8) for the team lead. Shawn Thornton added his fourth of the season at 16:04.

Tuukka Rask hadn’t been getting consistent play in front of him to begin the season, so he made it a little easier on teammates, shutting out the Panthers. It was his first victory of the season. Rask stopped all 41 shots he saw, frustrating a busy Panthers offense and improving his record to 1-4-1.

“You know, you play five, six games and you feel like you are playing good and the puck is not bouncing our way,” Rask said after the game. “That’€™s all it is and that’€™s what I said before, just keep working hard and good things will happen and today they did.”

The victory improved the Bruins’ record to 11-5-1. They are now 4-4-1 in home games and 4-3-1 in games played at TD Garden.

WHAT WENT RIGHT FOR THE BRUINS

– Uh, Lucic. Lucic. And Lucic again.

– It took much longer than one would have expected on, say, Oct. 9 at 4 p.m. Prague Time, but Rask finally got his first win of the season. Entering the night, Rask was 0-4-1 in five games, but he had played well enough to win on a few occasions, notably the team’s 2-1 shootout loss to the Blues on Nov. 6.

Brad Marchand may be a pest to other trash-talking players, but on Thursday he was even more of a pest to Vokoun. The third-line winger led the B’s with five shots on goal. The total tied his career high, which he reached last season on Nov. 1 against the Rangers.

– A top line missing its center is like a rock band losing its lead singer — you just assume it won’t be the same. Yet with David Krejci out, Patrice Bergeron has channeled his inner Sammy Hagar/Ronnie James Dio and proven that the first line can be fantastic with him in the middle.

For the second straight game, the line was able to manufacture a well-executed goal on the opening tally. Of course, Vokoun should have been able to stop Lucic’s first one, which he took after receiving a drop pass from Horton, but it was the latest example of how well these three are starting to play together.

– Once again, the penalty kill came up big for the Bruins. A night after killing off a 5-on-3 late in a one-goal game in New York, the Bruins kept the Panthers off the board despite being shorthanded five times throughout the night.

WHAT WENT WRONG FOR THE BRUINS

– The power play only got two chances, and it didn’t see anything come of them. Bryan McCabe went off for unsportsmanlike conduct in the second and Cory Stillman was called for interference at 5:08 of the third. In not converting, the Bruins now have just one power play goal in their last five games.They’ve had 18 opportunities. Hard to think they’re not missing Krejci in that respect.

– Rask was sensational, but that didn’t mean he had to face as many shots as he did. David Booth usually gets a lot of pucks on net, but he had 11 shots through the first two periods. All in all, the Panthers put 41 shots on Rask, 12 of which came off the stick of Booth.

The most shots on goals the Bruins have allowed this season is 46, which Tim Thomas faced on Nov. 6 against the Penguins.

Read More: Milan Lucic, Nathan Horton, Tuukka Rask,
Bruins lead Panthers after one at 7:42 pm ET
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Milan Lucic scored his eighth goal of the season at 15:37 of the first period, and it’s a 1-0 Bruins lead after 20 minutes.

Nathan Horton dropped it for Lucic at the face-off circle, and Lucic took it from there, beating Tomas Vokoun top shelf. Patrice Bergeron also picked up an assist on the play.

The Panthers came awfully close twice in the middle of the period, with a David Booth shot trickling off Rask’s glove but falling wide of the net, and Jason Garrison firing one that hit the post. Later in the period, Booth took a pass in front from Rostislav Olesz, with Rask getting in position and making a fantastic save.

Shawn Thornton and Darcy Hordichuk provided the fighting for the period, squaring off at 16:31 in a twist that left Thornton with a bloody nose. The lone injury scare of the period when Patrice Bergeron took a Dennis Wideman shot off the foot, but he returned to the ice.

Florida is outshooting the Bruins, 16-11. The Panthers are 0-for-1 on the power play, with 13.2 seconds remaining on a high sticking on a high stick call on on Blake Wheeler.

Read More: Milan Lucic, Nathan Horton, Tuukka Rask,
Tim Thomas, Bruins beat Rangers 11.17.10 at 9:21 pm ET
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NEW YORK — Tim Thomas picked up his 10th win in 12 starts this season as the Bruins defeated the Rangers, 3-2, at Madison Square Garden on Wednesday night.

Milan Lucic, Tyler Seguin, and Mark Recchi each scored on Henrik Lundqvist, who had picked up a win on Oct. 23rd against the B’s in Boston. Recchi’s goal, his second of the season, was a real softie, as he lobbed a wrist shot on net that Lundqvist, hugging the post, let slip through ever-so-slowly.

The Bruins will return to the Boston on Thursday, where they will face the Panthers at TD Garden.

WHAT WENT RIGHT FOR THE BRUINS

– Here’s another occasion on which it feels appropriate to check in on Milan Lucic’s pre-season target of 20 goals for this year. Lucic was limited to 50 games last season due to injury, and he made a point of it to aim for his first 20-goal campaign. Lucic now has seven goals in sixteen games, putting him on pace for about 36 goals this season.

That’s not to say that Lucic will nearly double his estimation for the season. Two of the tallies have been empty netters, and Lucic would need to play 82 games, something he’s never done in his career.

– Tyler Seguin had not been playing his best hockey entering the night, but he provided a reminder that when given the opportunity to showcase his offensive wizardry, it sure is fun to watch. Seguin hadn’t scored since Oct. 30th against the Senators, but he snapped that streak when he stole a puck at his own blue line from Rangers defenseman Matt Gilroy, flew through the neutral zone, and went top-shelf on Henrik Lundqvist.

– Thomas was sensational once it became a one-goal game in the third, making a couple of huge saves on Gaborik, one of which came when he pushed a Gaborik’s wrister back with his blocker. The B’s also killed off a two-man advantage late in the third.

WHAT WENT WRONG FOR THE BRUINS

– The B’s were 0-for-3 on the power play, and they’ve really cooled off with the man advantage. After Wednesday night’s game, the Bruins are 1-for-16 on the power play in their last four games.

– Marian Gaborik continued the tear he’s been on, beating Thomas stickside in the third period to make it a one-goal game. It was Gaborik’s fifth point in his last three games.

– The Bruins were very sloppy with the puck in the first period. Very short passes in the neutral zone made it tough for them to muster much pressure, but luckily the Rangers came out just as sloppy in a scoreless first period.

Read More: Milan Lucic, Tim Thomas, Tyler Seguin,
Tyler Seguin, Milan Lucic have Bruins leading Rangers after two at 8:32 pm ET
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NEW YORK — Tyler Seguin scored his fourth goal of the season (his first since Oct. 30th) and the Bruins lead the Rangers, 2-1, after two periods.

Seguin stole a puck from Rangers defenseman Matt Gilroy, took it through the neutral zone himself, and beat Henrik Lundqvist top shelf for the tally.

Brandon Dubinsky has hurt the Bruins enough this season, but that didn’t stop the Rangers’ forward from making it even worse on the B’s. Dubinsky, who fractured Johnny Boychuk’s forearm with a slash on Oct. 23 in Boston, drew a Nathan Horton double-minor for highsticking, and put the Rangers up, 1-0, on the ensuing power play.

Horton would make up for his costly penalty, setting up Milan Lucic’s seventh goal of the season, a game-tying tally from the slot.

The Rangers are outshooting the Bruins, 20-15, through two periods.

Read More: Milan Lucic, Nathan Horton, Tyler Seguin,
Bruins set to square off with Capitals 11.05.10 at 4:01 pm ET
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Claude Julien probably meant it when he said on Friday that he and the Bruins were “anticipating as hard a game as we’ve had all year,” as the B’s final regular season trip to the nation’s capital likely won’t be an easy one.

Bruce Boudreau‘s club enters Friday night’s tilt with the Bruins second in the Eastern Conference with 16 points. Since the Bruins took two straight from the Capitals last month, Alexander Ovechkin‘s squad has gotten back into a groove, winning four of its last five games. In fact, half of the Capitals’ losses this season have come against the Bruins.

With Tim Thomas expected to get the start on Thursday, he will put an impressive 12-4-2 career record against the Capitals on the line. He’s allowed two goals to the Capitals this season, though one was the result of a blatant giveaway on his part that led to a Jason Chimera freebie.

Milan Lucic has a team-high three points against the Capitals this season, picking up a goal and two assists over the B’s two games against Washington. Matt Hunwick, David Krejci, Jordan Caron, Nathan Horton, Michael Ryder, and Zdeno Chara also have goals against the Capitals this season.

Here is the projected lineup:

Lucic ‘€“ Krejci ‘€“ Horton
Caron ‘€“ Bergeron- Recchi
Wheeler -Seguin- Ryder
Marchand ‘€“ Campbell- Thornton

Chara ‘€“ Ference
Hunwick ‘€“ Seidenberg
Stuart ‘€“ McQuaid

Thomas
Rask

Want the quote of the day? Here’s one from Boudreau on his first impression of Thomas, as told to Brian McNally of the Washington Examiner:

‘€œYeah ‘€“ I’€™m wondering who is this chubby little goalie that’€™s not allowing any goals in when he was in Providence. And he’€™d take his mask off and his face would be really red and I’€™m going ‘€˜Wow, he can’€™t keep this up.’€™ But he always did. He played so great against our teams. I’€™d sit there and wonder why no NHL team has jumped all over this guy and then Mike O’€™Connell was smart enough to see that he was good enough and brought him up to Boston.’€

Speaking of Thomas, click here to read the story behind the story of his offseason hip surgery.

Read More: Alexander Ovechkin, Milan Lucic, Tim Thomas,
Milan Lucic turns disappointment from last season into fast start 10.20.10 at 6:39 pm ET
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Milan Lucic missed almost a third of the Bruins’ 2009-10 season because of an ankle injury, and scored only nine goals in 50 games played. Now that he’s starting this new season completely healthy, Lucic feels like he may have something to prove.

“Obviously I’m disappointed with how things went last year,” Lucic said after practice Wednesday. “Your main focus of the summer is just to get back and kind of regain that identity I created for myself and, you know, have a little bit of redemption going into the season.”

Off to a pretty good start, Lucic has scored a goal in each of the last three games, a streak he’s achieved for only the second time in his career. The first occurrence was back on Dec. 8-12, 2008.

“I think for me, thus far, I’ve just done a good job getting myself into scoring areas,” he said. “And also a big thing for me …is when I’m moving my feet and skating well, I think that’s what’s creating the most chances for myself.”

Lucic, of course, refused to take full credit for his successes so far this season. “Obviously playing with a great center like [David] Krejci and a scoring threat like [Nathan] Horton makes it easier for myself,” he said. “We’ve been able to find some chemistry here early on in the season, but I think the main thing is we just have fun playing with one another. You know, we just have to go out there and keep performing every night.”

It seems to be no coincidence that with the top line clicking like it has, the Bruins have won their last three straight games and outscored their opponents, 10-2.

“All 20 guys are doing their part to help the team get some offense,” Lucic said. “Everyone’s doing a good job back checking and having good sticks and taking away lanes. And I think that’s what’s causing a lot of turnovers for us and we’ve been able to go on the attack.”

The next challenge for the Bruins (3-1) will be translating their road success into their home opener. Lucic says there is definitely excitement to come back home and play in front of home fans, which can sometimes lead to temptation to try and put on a show for the crowd. The key for a home victory, according to Lucic, will be to “just keep doing what we’ve been doing – and that’s keeping things simple and making strong plays.”

Last season, over half of the Bruins’ losses took place on their home ice, which is “inexcusable” to Lucic.

“You play at home 41 times a year,” he said. “You’ve got to make that a hard building to play against. You want teams coming in being like, ‘you know what, I don’t like playing in the Garden.’ And that’s what every team around the league wants to do. They want to establish their building as hard to play against. That’s definitely what we want to get back to doing this year.”

The Bruins will have their first opportunity to do just that in a rematch against the Capitals Thursday night. The puck is set to drop at 7 pm.

Read More: David Krejci, Milan Lucic, Nathan Horton,
Bruins hold final practice before Devils game 10.15.10 at 11:32 am ET
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WILMINGTON — The Bruins took the ice on Friday for their final skate at Ristuccia Arena before travelling to New Jersey for a Saturday night matchup with the Devils.

All players were accounted for on Friday, and the lines remain unchanged from Thursday. The team did some shootout work about 15 minutes into the skate as teammates looked on in amusement. Johnny Boychuk did appear to get hit in either the back of the leg or the side of the skate with a Milan Lucic shot, but he seemed to skate it off and did not leave the ice. Stay tuned for more from the locker room following practice.

Read More: Johnny Boychuk, Milan Lucic,
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