|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.
|Bruins Game 6 Live Blog: Canadiens lead Bruins in third||04.26.11 at 6:08 pm ET|
Join DJ Bean, Mike Petraglia and others at the Bell Centre for Game 6 of the Eastern Conference quarterfinals. The B’s can close out the series with a win over the Canadiens. The live blog fun starts at 6:30, with the puck being dropped after 7 p.m.
|What history can teach the Bruins in the the next week||04.24.11 at 12:26 pm ET|
History can be a funny thing in sports.
It can be a teacher. It can be a guide. It can provide motivation.
If you’re the Boston Bruins, the next two days, it’s going to be all of the above.
The Bruins want to close out the Montreal Canadiens on Tuesday night in Game 6 because if they don’t they are going to hear about 2010 again. No, it’s not like they were up 3-0 against the Habs like they were against the Flyers in the Eastern semis last year but they are going to be asked about how hard it is for them to close a team out.
Just ask their coach.
“I think we’ve experienced that last year, right?” Claude Julien asked rhetorically in the afterglow of Game 5 Saturday night. “We don’t want to bring that up, but unfortunately it is what it is. That last win is a tough one, we recognize that. We need to go to Montreal with the intentions of winning that game and playing to win that game. We need to understand it’s probably going to be the toughest game of the series. When teams are playing for their lives they come out with their best effort. And we have to be ready for that.”
Then again, experience is what you make it – like Brad Marchand and Nathan Horton who are playing in their first playoffs. Marchand scored the first goal Saturday and Horton put in the game-winner in double-overtime.
“It was a huge goal for him,” Julien said of Horton. “I wasn’t worried about the fact he hasn’t played in the playoffs because he is a guy that competes all the time. That is one reason why he wanted to come to Boston was to be on an Original Six playoff team. I’m sure he is pretty happy. That has got to be his biggest goal but I think he has been great for us.”
Before the meltdown against Philly last year, there was the stunning Game 7 overtime loss to the Hurricanes in the Eastern semis in 2009 that kept a 53-win team on the sidelines as the NHL held its own final four party.
But having faced those pressure situations in past playoffs may finally be paying dividends. In Games 4 and 5, the Bruins have shown tremendous poise, to go along with great goaltending from Tim Thomas, Michael Ryder and Zdeno Chara.
“We’ve been through a lot the last few years and this was something different,” said Milan Lucic, the player who scored twice in Game 7 last year against Philly before the lights went out on the B’s offense. “Obviously this year going down the first two games at home and having to go to a building where we haven’t won all year and try to even up the series.
“But I think our focus so far is after those first two games wasn’t on the big picture like it was on the first two games. After we were down, the focus was just on, okay, forget about what’s going to happen. Let’s just worry about what we need to do next and what we’re going to do that next shift and that’s what is getting us in a bit of a groove here.”
The Bruins need to make sure the music doesn’t suddenly stop in Montreal Tuesday night.
|Bruins’ top line gets going, nets winner in Game 5||at 12:38 am ET|
The struggles of the Bruins’ top line this series have been well-documented. Through four games, Milan Lucic was without a point while David Krejci and Nathan Horton had just one each. But even before Horton netted the game-winner in double overtime Saturday night, the line was beginning to show signs of turning it around.
The trio combined for 14 shots on goal in the game, including a game-high eight off the stick of Lucic. They went in hard on the forecheck and were able to create some quality chances around the Montreal net. And they were finally rewarded for their effort 9:03 into the second overtime when a good cycle led to an Andrew Ference shot from the point and a rebound tap-in for Horton.
“They were better and that was a good sign,” Claude Julien said of his top line. “Scoring that OT goal is hopefully going to give that line a real good boost. We all know that when you start thinking positively, things seem to be a lot easier. I think they were carrying some weight on them for not producing and wanting to be one of the lines that produced.”
Julien said the goal was particularly satisfying for Horton, who is playing in the first playoff series of his career.
“That goal for Nathan Horton in his first playoffs, to score that kind of goal, now he knows what it feels like,” Julien said. “He was a pretty happy man in the dressing room.”
Horton couldn’t help but let a giant grin form on his face as he sat in front of the media for his postgame press conference.
“It’s so nice. It feels so good,” Horton said. “It was an exciting game for both teams, but in the end, it felt good to get that. We knew it was going to be a greasy goal, and it sure was. It was a rebound, but they all count. That was a big goal for us.”
Horton said guys were obviously getting tired the longer the game went, but that you can’t dwell on that when you’re on the ice.
“You’re just pushing through it,” he said. “You put that in the back of your mind when you’re playing in double overtime, the first overtime, whatever. You put it in the back of your mind. You really focus on what you have to do to get the job done. That’s basically it.”
His line was able to exactly what it took to get the winner.
“You work hard, you go out and try to play the same style, and don’t turn the puck over,” Horton said. “That’s a huge part of our game. When we don’t turn it over and get it in deep, things happen. That’s what you see on that last goal. That’s what happened.”
Lucic, who had an assist on the decisive goal, said the key for his line moving forward is to build off the game-winner and not just be satisfied with it.
“It’s obviously great that were were able to create that goal, but you definitely don’t want to be satisfied,” Lucic said. “You want to keep pushing for more and contributing.”
|Nathan Horton sinks Habs in double overtime||04.23.11 at 11:07 pm ET|
By DJ Bean and Scott McLaughlin
Brad Marchand got the Bruins on the board at 4:33 of the third period, beating Price for his first career playoff goal. The lead would later be relinquished as Jeff Halpern tied it at 13:56, breaking up Tim Thomas‘s shutout bid.
In skating to more than two scoreless periods, the teams made the 44 minutes of shutout hockey the longest a game in the series had gone without a goal. Prior to Saturday, a goal had been scored no later than 8:13 into the first period.
The teams will next play on Tuesday in Montreal for Game 6 at the Bell Centre; a win will permit the Bruins to advance to the conference semi-finals. If necessary, Game 7 will be played the following day at TD Garden.
WHAT WENT RIGHT FOR THE BRUINS
– Milan Lucic finally got involved on offense. After leading the team in goals during the regular season and tying for the team lead in points, he had just five shots and no points through the first four games of the series. He got the primary assist on the game-winner, and he did a much better job of making his presence known in Game 5. He led all skaters with seven shots on goal, consistently went in hard on the forecheck and found himself with a few quality scoring chances around the net.
– Lucic wasn’t the only one shooting for the Bruins in the first period, as their 12 shots on Price marked just the second time this series that the Bruins have hit double-digits in first-period shots on goal. It didn’t pay off Saturday for either team, but the B’s have the right idea.
– Michael Ryder was a temporary fan-favorite before the game thanks to his Game 4 heroics, but the crowd really took it to a new level in the first period when Ryder made what at the time was the save of the game, stopping Tomas Plekanec with Thomas way out of the net.
In addition to his work as a part-time netminder (he actually played the position in ball hockey back in his Canadiens days), Ryder continued to get chances Saturday as well, though none made their way past Price.
– Marchand came up with a clutch goal on a night in which he’d been made popular for the wrong reasons. First, he nearly went face-first into the ice in the second period while attempting to throw down with Plekanec on a play that earned each player a roughing minor.
At the second period’s conclusion, Max Pacioretty — possessing villain status around these parts for shoving Zdeno Chara and jumping Steven Kampfer at different points this season, but more widely recognized as the victim of Chara/a Montreal stanchion from March 8 — tweeted that the game was “longer than marchands [sic] nose.” Pacioretty deleted the tweet shortly after and apologized.
WHAT WENT WRONG FOR THE BRUINS
– The Bruins probably would have preferred it if Benoit Pouliot remained in the lineup for the Habs, as Halpern was able to score the equalizer in his second game back in the lineup. Halpern got back in for the Canadiens on Thursday after missing Games 1 and 2 with a lower-body injury.
– Boston struggled in the faceoff circle, as Montreal won 33 of 57 draws through the end of regulation. The subpar performance on draws didn’t have a huge effect on the game until they lost a defensive zone faceoff that directly led to Halpern’s game-tying goal late in the third. The Canadiens were also able to kill some time when the Bruins were on the power play by winning faceoffs in their own end and sending the puck down the river. The B’s actually did a much better job in the first overtime, winning 14 of the 20 draws in the frame.
– The Bruins went 0-for-3 on the power play — including missing out on a chance to end it with a man advantage in the first overtime — and are now 0-for-15 in the series. They got some nice setups and some decent looks at the net, but they need to find a way to score on the man advantage, plain and simple. They still seem too lackadaisical when it comes to getting traffic in front and digging for rebounds. Shots from the point can be the best power-play strategy when you’re getting screens, deflections and rebounds, but the Bruins aren’t getting much of any of that right now. They’re starting to get some dirty goals at even strength; now they just have to carry that over to the power play.
|Bruins Game 5 Live Blog: B’s, Habs head to overtime||at 6:29 pm ET|
Join DJ Bean, Mike Petraglia and others at the TD Garden for Game 5 of the Eastern Conference quarterfinals.
<a href=”http://www.coveritlive.com/mobile.php/option=com_mobile/task=viewaltcast/altcast_code=544866eb6c” mce_href=”http://www.coveritlive.com/mobile.php/option=com_mobile/task=viewaltcast/altcast_code=544866eb6c” >WEEI.com Bruins Game 5 Live Blog</a>
|Milan Lucic and the postseason expectations of a 30-goal scorer||04.19.11 at 6:17 pm ET|
LAKE PLACID, N.Y. — The playoffs are a time when the top talent can take over a series. Teams know which guys to account for, and the big-time goal-scorers are at or near the top of the list of guys who can change a series.
When Milan Lucic scored 30 goals in the regular season, perhaps he entered that class of players expected to do big things in the postseason. Given that he also had nine points in each of the last two postseasons, Lucic also had high expectations for himself as the Eastern Conference quarterfinals began.
So far, Lucic is the only member of the Bruins’ top line without a goal in the playoffs, as David Krejci and Nathan Horton scored the B’s first two goals in Monday’s 4-2 victory in Game 3 at the Bell Centre.
Once a player reaches the 30-goal mark in the regular mark, does he suddenly feel a responsibility to be a reliable producer? Lucic said that everyone puts pressure on themselves come the postseason, but admitted Tuesday that this time around he does expect more of himself.
“For myself, I think the first two games, I put almost too much pressure on myself to go out there and score,” Lucic said Tuesday at Whiteface Lake Placid Olympic Center. “For myself, my game, if I just simplify it and just go out there and play and just focus on just straight lines and getting pucks in deep, everything tends to take care of itself.”
Lucic was a minus-1 in each of the series’ first two games. Things seemed to be getting worse Monday when he stole the puck from P.K. Subban in the neutral zone, but got barely anything on his shot on the breakaway that ensued. The Habs brought it down the ice after the play and got on the board thanks to Andrei Kostitsyn maneuvering around Zdeno Chara and beating Tim Thomas. Instead of potentially being 4-0, it was 3-1 and the crowd made its presence felt once again. Lucic’s play improved over the rest of the game, though, and given the way things seem to be trending with his linemates, coach Claude Julien hopes Lucic will begin seeing some statistical output.
“He was better last night. If his linemates are starting to roll, usually he follows up or vice versa,” Julien said. “When those guys start playing, usually the other guys catch up to them. I’m expecting him to get even better, and we’re going to need him to be better if he expect to win this series.”