|Milan Lucic breaks out of slump with two goals in Game 4 win||05.07.11 at 2:09 am ET|
Friday night’s series-clinching win over the Flyers was special for everyone involved with the Bruins, but it was a little extra special for Milan Lucic. The team’s leading goal scorer during the regular season entered the game without a goal in the playoffs. In fact, he hadn’t scored in 20 games going back to the end of the regular season.
That drought finally came to an end when Lucic one-timed home a centering pass from Nathan Horton for a power-play goal 12:02 into the game.
‘It was great,’ Lucic said when asked how he felt after the goal. ‘It was a great feeling once I scored that goal just to get that monkey off my back and get that lead.’
Lucic wasn’t done, either. He gave the Bruins a 3-1 lead with 4:57 remaining in the game when he beat Sergei Brobovsky five-hole on a breakaway for his second goal of the night. That was the backbreaker for the Flyers, who had turned up the pressure after the Bruins made it 2-1 earlier in the third.
‘That’s what it was all about here. We had to weather that storm,’ coach Claude Julien said. ‘When you are desperate and you need to score to stay in the series, you know they are going to give it their best shot. ‘¦ We did a great job until we got that third goal, which was a big goal. Certainly it relieved a lot of pressure.’
Lucic admitted that he got frustrated at times during the slump, but he credited his teammates for supporting him and helping him get through it.
‘My teammates, especially my linemates with [David] Krejci and Horton, we’ve been able to create so much chemistry here,’ Lucic said. ‘They had my back and they just told me, ‘It’s going to come. Just keep sticking with it.’ I tried my hardest not to get frustrated. There was a time there when I was really frustrated. But right now, obviously it feels good to step up and help the team win a big game.’
Assistant captain Mark Recchi said that sort of team unity is one of the biggest reasons the Bruins are where they are right now.
‘That’s what good teams do,’ Recchi said. ‘When you haven’t scored for a while, you tend to get tight. He’s a young kid and hopefully now he’s found a really good time to start getting hot. He’s been a great teammate to everybody else this year. When guys are struggling or they’re fighting to score goals, what good teams do is find ways to help him and take that pressure off of him.’
|Bruins/Flyers: Everything you need to know for Game 4||05.06.11 at 2:38 am ET|
The Bruins can bust out the brooms and prepare for the Eastern Conference finals by eliminating the Flyers Friday night at TD Garden. Of course, given that the B’s could get only the first three wins of the series last year, four is the only number on anyone’s mind. With that being said, here’s a preview based around the number.
Four things the Bruins have to do:
– Don’t even think about letting up. If the B’s have any doubt as to whether the Flyers can bring it, all they have to do is think back to Game 2. The Flyers dominated them in that contest, and the B’s were bailed out by Tim Thomas. In Game 3, it looked like the Bruins feared a 2-1 series even more than the Flyers feared 3-0, and the result was a contest in which Philadelphia was clearly outmatched.
– Keep on hitting. The Flyers won’t be able to come out and make an early statement if the B’s are as physical as they were in Game 3. Brad Marchand racked up seven hits through the first two periods, including a big hit on Ville Leino with the Flyers on the power play in the first.
– Continue to play like it’s scoreless at all times. One thing that hasn’t gotten much attention with these Bruins this postseason is that the scoreboard hasn’t impacted them much. They fell behind by a pair of goals on the road in both Game 4 of the quarterfinals vs. the Canadiens and in Game 2 this series and came back to win both games. Also, the Bruins didn’t seem to slow down at all throughout Wednesday’s Game 3 despite leading in semi-blowout fashion.
– Stay healthy. One way or another, the Bruins are going to win this series, so when they face Tampa Bay in the conference finals, they’ll need to do so with all of their stars. Losing David Krejci last year was disastrous.
– If you’re happy with how Thomas has played against the Flyers thus far, consider that he fared better vs. the Lightning (1.67 goals against average, .950 save percentage) than he did against Philadelphia (1.96 GAA, .942 save percentage) in the regular season. His .935 save percentage this postseason is second only to Dwayne Roloson, who has a .941 mark for the Lightning.
– Nathan Horton‘s Gordie Howe hat trick (goal, assist, fight) Wednesday was the first of his career. His five playoff goals puts him in a tie with Krejci for the team lead.
– The Bruins won 43 of 55 face-offs in Game 3, including a perfect 8-for-8 from Krejci and and a 17-for-19 showing from Patrice Bergeron.
– While Wednesday marked the first game this postseason that the B’s scored a power play goal, it also marked the first contest this series in which the Flyers didn’t score on the man advantage. Philadelphia went 0-for-2 on the power play.
Four key players:
– Whichever Flyers goaltender gets the start: Rhode Island native Brian Boucher has lost all three games this series and has been yanked in two of them (not including briefly leaving Game 2 with an injury). Sergei Bobrovsky has allowed three goals to the B’s in 55:15 this series.
– David Krejci: The dominance continues. Including the playoffs, Krejci has had at least one point in his last 12 games against the Flyers, totaling five goals and 12 assists for 17 points. The B’s are 11-0-1 in those games.
– Tim Thomas: The Vezina nominee allowed three goals in Game 1, two in Game 2, and one in Game 3. The numbers are trending in the right direction, and he’s really stepped it up since his human start to the Montreal series.
– James van Riemsdyk: The former No. 2 overall pick has come a long way since his college days at New Hampshire, and he’s a guy the Bruins rightfully focused on Wednesday due to his two-goal, eight shot performance in Game 2. Van Riemsdyk has been the Flyers’ best player in a series in which they’ve had few candidates, leading them in shots on goal in each of the first three games (his eight tied Mike Richards in Game 1).
|Gordie huh? Nathan Horton far more concerned with winning than personal achievements||05.05.11 at 1:07 pm ET|
Nathan Horton is usually excited about everything. This time of year, he’s even more excited given that he’s finally in the playoffs. Yet through a personal achievement, it seems Horton has finally revealed something he isn’t particularly excited about: a personal achievement.
The Bruins winger picked a funny time to get his first career Gordie Howe hat trick, but the B’s gladly took the results in a 5-1 win that saw Horton assist David Krejci‘s first-period goal, drop the gloves with Sean O’Donnell in the second, and score in the third. Given Horton’s power-forward style of play, it is a bit surprising that he had never picked up a Gordie Howe hat trick over seven regular-season campaigns. Of course, it wasn’t a surprise for him, as he didn’t even know that Wednesday was the first time he pulled off the feat.
“Of my career?” Horton said when asked about picking up his first Gordie Howe hat trick. “I don’t know. I don’t remember [if I ever did before].”
As for having a goal, assist and fighting major all in one game for the first time, Horton seemed indifferent to it. He plays mean on the ice, but it doesn’t seem he puts much thought into the numbers that come of it.
“I don’t know. Just anything you can do for a win,” Horton said. “That’s what it’s all about. Things happen on the ice. It’s kind of how it went, but the big thing is that we won and want to keep winning.”
The 25-year-old was out of his element a bit when asked about personal achievements, but once the conversation was turned to his team, Horton was, as he usually is, happy as a clam.
“We have such a great team,” he said. “We can win any game we want when we play hard, and we play the right way and the way we can.”
The Bruins go for the sweep against the Flyers on Friday.
|Bruins/Flyers Game 3 live blog: B’s lead, 4-1, in third||05.04.11 at 6:54 pm ET|
Join DJ Bean, Mike Petraglia and others from TD Garden as the Bruins and Flyers square off in Game 3 ofthe Eastern Conference semifinals. Boston has a 2-0 series lead.
|Rivet, rivet: Bruins say broken skate the reason for Nathan Horton’s absence||05.01.11 at 2:42 pm ET|
PHILADELPHIA — Nathan Horton wasn’t on the ice as the Bruins held their Sunday practice at Wells Fargo Center, but his never-ending grin could still be seen in the team’s dressing room following the skate. Horton did only off-ice work Sunday, with he and the team explaining that it was an equipment issue that led to his absence. Horton, who famously went to a local sporting goods store to buy a stick during a prolonged scoring slump in the regular season, apparently realized he had a broken skate as he was getting ready for the practice. By the time it was realized, Horton said, coach Claude Julien told him not to bother worrying about the practice.
“His rivets popped just before going out there, so the trainer came to see me, and I said we were only going out there for 20 minutes, so by the time you get it fixed [it wouldn’t be worth it],” Julien said after practice. “He did a little off-ice workout, and it’s not a big deal. He’ll skate tomorrow morning.”
Horton led the Bruins with five shots on goal in Boston’s 7-3 win over the Flyers in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference semifinals. The 25-year-old had a goal and an assist for two points and was a plus-3 on the day. Through eight playoff games, Horton has five points and a plus-2 rating.
|Nathan Horton doubles his pleasure while doubling the fun for the Bruins||04.28.11 at 12:40 am ET|
Nathan Horton isn’t about to complain about being dragged to the postgame press conference room in full uniform like he was Wednesday night to talk about his series-winning goal. After all, he’s getting to be a real pro at taking the stage to discuss such heroics.
Four nights after winning Game 5 in double-overtime, Horton won the game and the series with a bomb of a shot that Carey Price never saw with 14:17 left in overtime to capture Game 7 for the Bruins and avoid the worst kind of heartbreak for Bruins fans.
It also sent the B’s onto a second-round rematch with the Flyers starting this weekend in Philadelphia.
“Yeah, it was pretty nice,” said a smiling Horton. “I mean, it felt pretty good. I don’t remember too much. I remember Looch [Milan Lucic] coming up with the puck and I just tried to get open, and I tried putting the puck towards the net. Luckily it got deflected off someone and it went straight in. That’s all I remember. It was pretty special, again, it doesn’t get any better.”
The goal also saved the Bruins from the devastating heartbreak of blowing a 3-2 lead with less than two minutes left in regulation, when P.K. Subban scored on the power play to force overtime.
“When you have the lead it feels good, but when you give it up, it’s tough, especially in Game 7, late in the third, and we battled,” Horton said. “We battled all year, when times have been tough, and we’ve come together and it seems like we get stronger and we just start pressing, and that’s the way it’s been all year. On if it’s safe to say he’s enjoying the playoffs’¦ I’m really enjoying it. Every day is exciting. Every day is a new day, but it feels good, definitely, to get used to this, continue winning. That’s what it’s all about.”
Horton was the Bruins player who started off like a house on fire this season, with eight goals in his first 15 games. Then he cooled off before finishing with 26 on the season, just four behind Milan Lucic for the team lead. Safe to say he’s caught fire again at the very best time. Read the rest of this entry »
|Nathan Horton does it again in OT, Bruins advance past Canadiens to face Flyers||04.27.11 at 10:10 pm ET|
By DJ Bean and Scott McLaughlin
The Bruins gave Boston its latest Game 7 scare by blowing a pair of leads, but advanced to the second round of the postseason in thrilling fashion Wednesday night thanks to a Nathan Horton series-clinching goal in overtime that gave the B’s the 4-3 win. It was Horton’s second overtime goal this series.
With the victory, the Bruins will get a shot at redemption, as they will face the same Flyers team that came back from a 3-0 Boston series lead to eliminate the B’s in the Eastern Conference semifinals last season.
With the teams tied at two midway through the third, Chris Kelly put a rebound from an Andrew Ference shot under a diving Carey Price at 9:44 of the third period. P.K. Subban would erase the lead with a blast past Tim Thomas on the power play at 18:03 of the third. That set up Horton’s heroics.
Johnny Boychuk opened the night’s scoring by sending a shot from the point through traffic and past Price. Mark Recchi would follow with his first goal of the playoffs at 5:33, giving the B’s an early 2-0 lead and filling TD Garden with quite a buzz.
The Habs would come roaring back thanks to their special teams, with Yannick Weber scoring on the power play at 9:49 of the first period and Tomas Plekanec beating Thomas on a shorthanded breakaway at 5:50 of the second. Thomas would have 29 saves in regulation for the B’s.
The Bruins will begin the conference semifinals in Philadelphia, as the Flyers (ranked No. 2) are the higher seed. It is the third straight year in which the B’s have advanced to the second round of the playoffs. The B’s have been eliminated in the conference semifinals in each of the last two seasons.
With the win Wednesday, the Bruins have their first Game 7 victory since 1994, when the B’s eliminated the Habs at the Boston Garden. It is also the first time in Claude Julien‘s four years in the Boston that he’s led the team to a Game 7 victory. Julien’s first three seasons in Boston ended in Game 7 losses.
WHAT WENT RIGHT FOR BRUINS
– The B’s got off to a fast 2-0 start in the first 5:33 of the contest. Sure, they ended up blowing it, but Boychuk getting the B’s on the board early in the first period with a blast from the point was reminiscent of the team’s 7-0 victory over the Habs back on March 24. In that game, of course, Boychuk scored 1:01 into the game and the B’s never looked back.
– Kelly had just two goals and three assists in 24 regular-season games with the Bruins … and then topped that in one playoff series, tallying three goals and three assists against the Canadiens. More importantly, he produced in the biggest of situations. In Game 4, he scored the game-tying goal in the third period and then set up Michael Ryder for the overtime winner. Wednesday, he buried a rebound with 10:16 remaining in the third to give the B’s a 3-2 lead.
– The Bruins started the third period playing much better than they did in the second. They were able to string together good shifts from each of the top three lines, something they didn’t do in the middle frame. The B’s dominated time of possession for the first half of the period and were consistently swarming around Price. The pressure finally paid off when Kelly buried a rebound 9:44 into the period to give the B’s a 3-2 lead.
– Andrew Ference may give crowds the occasional finger, but he was huge for the Bruins this series. He scored a key goal in Game 4 (Finger Gate) and had two assists Wednesday, including on Kelly’s go-ahead goal in the third.
WHAT WENT WRONG FOR BRUINS
– No use in having a two-goal lead when you can’t hold it. In front of a crowd that was trying to forget last year’s 3-0 collapse vs. the Flyers, the B’s let the Habs erase Boston’s 2-0 lead and clearly grab the momentum in the second period. It was a very rough period for the B’s, who ended up being outshot, 12-7, in the second.
– The B’s made Price’s night rough early, but they hardly poured it on once they grabbed their 2-0 lead. Following a timeout called by Jacques Martin, the B’s got only two shots on goal for the rest of the period. That means the B’s had as many goals in the first 5:33 as they did shots in the final 14:27 of the opening period. Hardly terrific, but given the two goals part, they’d probably take that every period.
– It was bad enough that the Bruins couldn’t score on the power play. It was even worse when they allowed Montreal to tie the game while Lars Eller was in the box for cross checking. After failing to get set up for the first minute of the power play, Recchi couldn’t control a pass from Dennis Seidenberg in the neutral zone, allowing Plekanec to skate in on a shorthanded breakaway and beat Thomas. Boston couldn’t get set up after the goal, either, and concluded the man advantage without a shot on goal. The B’s had a lot of bad power plays in the series, but this one was the worst, which is really saying something.
– Midway through that second period, Brad Marchand opted out of a golden scoring opportunity to make a pass to no one in particular. He took a feed on the left wing on a 3-on-1 and had an open lane to the net, but instead tried to pass the puck across the top of the crease to one of his two linemates. Unfortunately, one of them was tied up by a defender and the other was already past the right post by the time Marchand made the pass. What should’ve been a grade-A scoring chance became nothing more than a dump into the corner and an easy clear for Montreal.
– Poor officiating. Just a horrid penalty called on Shawn Thornton called late in the first period. With Habs forward Ryan White seemingly holding Thornton in blatant fashion, Thornton was called for an elbow that replays failed to show.
A hooking call on Michael Ryder on Plekanec at 8:22 of the first wasn’t much better. Plekanec seemed to go down rather easily on a play in which it seemed Ryder was simply outmuscling him. Boychuk’s boarding call late in the second period looked to be the closest to a penalty of all the ones called on the Bruins, as the late high-sticking call on Patrice Bergeron seemed to be more James Wisniewski theatrics than anything else.