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Sobotka cleared to return 03.27.10 at 11:18 am ET
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After missing Thursday’s game with a neck strain and mild concussion, Vladimir Sobotka said Saturday morning he was cleared to return to action against the Calgary Flames. The center suffered the injury when he was hit during the game in Atlanta on Tuesday night.

“It’s been evident in the last couple of games, we’ve been successful just being hard on the puck and getting there on the forecheck,” linemate Milan Lucic said. “Having him back, he’s a fast player and he’s really strong on the puck, he’s going to help being back in the lineup.”

Read More: Bruins, Flames, Milan Lucic, NHL
Julien: ‘It’s our own fault’ 03.26.10 at 3:33 am ET
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Just 49 seconds into the game, Bruins coach Claude Julien had a classic ‘I can’t believe what I just saw’ look on his face.

He couldn’t believe Steven Stamkos, one of the most skilled goal-scorers in the game, was spotted a good two strides offsides into the Bruins zone without being whistled for the infraction. That break allowed him to take a near-perfect pass from Steve Downie and beat Tuukka Rask for an early 1-0 lead.

But afterward, as much as he wanted to blame the missed offsides for costing them the first goal of the game and some valuable early momentum, he just couldn’t bring himself to also overlook the responsibility his team bears for coming up flat on home ice at an extremely inopportune time.

“It was, yeah, I don’t want to say it was just one of those nights, but, like I said, certainly with every little thing that happened, they found a way,” Julien said. “The first one, again is an offside goal. But it still doesn’t mean there’s something we could have done about it, we could have reacted better. So you got to blame yourself for those kind of things.

“We didn’t have a good start tonight,” Julien said. “The opportunities that we gave them, they capitalized on. Defensively, I didn’t think we were as sharp as we have been. When you spot the type of players that scored for them tonight some opportunities, they certainly will make the best of it. So it’s our own fault for not being sharp without the puck, sharper [without the puck].”

As a result of Thursday’s letdown game, the Bruins missed a golden opportunity to move up in the standings as Philadelphia lost in overtime to Minnesota. The Flyers now stand two points ahead of the Bruins for 7th in the East.

“Your number one concern is your team,” Julien said. “It doesn’t mean you don’t look at the scoreboard after it’s all said and done, but right now our concern is we need to bounce back and we need to win the next hockey game. When the next hockey game happens to be in your home building, where we got to get better as well. So that’s probably the most important concern right now.”

Read More: Bruins, Claude Julien, Lightning, NHL
Second period summary: Bruins vs. Lightning 03.25.10 at 8:42 pm ET
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The Steven Stamkos show continued late in the second period as his power play blast beat Tuukka Rask for his 45th goal of the season. Not only did the goal with 25.8 seconds left in the period put Tampa Bay up, 4-2 after two periods, it tied the unsung star with Sidney Crosby and Alex Ovechkin for the NHL lead.

Johnny Boychuk and Zdeno Chara are having similar nights. The two defensemen have been downright offensive.

Chara had a couple of bad giveaways in his own zone in the first period but scored Boston’s first goal with an aggressive pinch up the slot with 26.8 seconds left.

Then, in the second period, Boychuk lost control of the puck behind Tuukka Rask. It was stolen by Paul Szczechura, who put it past the unsuspecting Bruins netminder for a 3-1 Tampa lead.

But Boychuk, like Chara, redeemed himself with a nifty shot from the low right point. Boychuk used the screen in front of Antero Niittymaki beautifully and when the puck went through the five-hole, the Bruins had closed the gap again to one at the 10:22 mark.

In the opening two minutes, there was an ironic moment as Shawn Thornton took out Kurtis Foster on the corner boards to the right of Niittymaki. The check close to the head of Foster could be the first instance of discipline from the new NHL ‘Blindshot Headshot’ rule enacted earlier in the day.

It was exactly one week ago when Thornton exacted his revenge on Pittsburgh’s Matt Cooke for a hit on Feb. 7 on Marc Savard that left the Bruins center out indefinitely with a concussion.

Bruins are more-than-doubling up Tampa Bay on the shot clock, 31-15, after 40 minutes.

Read More: Bruins, Johnny Boychuk, Lightning, Matt Cooke
First period summary: Bruins vs. Lightning at 7:51 pm ET
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The Bruins carried play for most of the first, outshooting Tampa Bay, 19-8, but some breakdowns in front of Tuukka Rask led to two Tampa Bay goals and a 2-1 Lightning lead after one.

The NHL’s leading goal scorer not named Sidney Crosby or Alex Ovechkin put the visitors on top just 49 seconds into the game.

Steven Stamkos, streaking down the slot, took a feed from Steve Downie and redirected a pretty shot past Tuukka Rask for a 1-0 Lightning lead. Replays showed Stamkos appeared to be clearly offsides, which is what Bruins coach Claude Julien argued in vein from the bench.

Stamkos has 44 goals this season. Only Crosby and Ovechkin – each with 45 – have more.

Vincent Lecavalier faked a slap shot from the top of the left circle only to pass to a rushing Martin St. Louis, who beat Rask with just under two minutes left in the first for a 2-0 lead.

The Bruins finally responded with 26.8 seconds remaining on a 4-on-4 when David Krejci fed a pinching Zdeno Chara in front of Niittymaki. Chara put it past the Tampa netminder and the Bruins finally had some life.

The Bruins didn’t let the early goal slow them down. They carried play for much of the first 15 minutes, outshooting Tampa, 11-3.

Marco Sturm had a mini-breakaway in from the Lightning blue line with five minutes left but Niittymaki again came up big.

Read More: Bruins, Lightning, NHL,
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 cap trip with 5-2 win over Canes at 8:29 pm ET
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Michael Ryder and Patrice Bergeron each scored their 16th goals of the season and Mark Recchi moved into a tie for 22nd on the NHL’s all-time goal scoring list with his 560th career goal as the Bruins ended their season-long seven-game road trip with a 5-2 win over the Carolina Hurricanes in Raleigh on Tuesday night.

Bergeron had to be helped from the ice with just under three minutes left after taking a Mark Stuart slap shot to the inside of the right knee.

The Bruins ended their trip seven-game road trip with a 3-3-1 record, seven out of a possible 14 points and now have 74 points, and still in the eighth and final spot in the Eastern Conference.

Three stars:

Patrice Bergeron: Before taking a shot to his right leg late in the third period, Bergeron was all over the ice offensively, setting the tempo from the first period on.

Tuukka Rask: The Bruins goalie, after turning away all 16 shots in the final 40 minutes on Monday in New Jersey, came up big when he had to. He turned away Jokinen and Eric Staal in the first 30 seconds of the third period on back-to-back chances, setting the stage for Mark Recchi to tie Guy Lafleur for 22nd on the all-time goal list with 560.

Johnny Boychuk: His end-to-end rush in the second period highlighted a great night for the Bruins defense. He, Matt Hunwick and Dennis Seidenberg anchored a good two-way performance by Bruins blueliners for 60 minutes.

Turning point: Mark Recchi’s historic goal. The Hurricanes began the third period with a power play. Tuukka Rask came up with a big save in the first 30 seconds and then just 45 seconds into the final period, Recchi talHilied his 15th of the season – and 560th career – to put Boston up, 3-1.

Key play: Game was over when Michael Ryder capitalized on a horrendous Carolina turnover in their own zone, intercepting a pass just inside the blue line and firing his 16th pass Manny Legace for a 4-2 lead.

Read More: Bruins, Hurricanes, NHL,
Second period summary: Bruins-Hurricanes at 7:47 pm ET
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The two teams exchanged goals in the second period as the Bruins take a 2-1 lead over the Hurricanes after 40 minutes.

Johnny Boychuk had a terrific shift midway through, starting with breaking up an odd-man rush to the right of Tuukka Rask. He promptly fed Michael Ryder who found Matt Hunwick in the neutral zone.

Boychuk hustled nicely in an end-to-end rush and was rewarded when Hunwick found Boychuk rushing up the right side. Boychuk scored his fourth of the season to make it 2-0.

The Hurricanes used the power play to get back into the game when Eric Cole picked up a rebound to the left of Rask and his put back made it 2-1. The Bruins hold a 32-16 advantage on face-offs and are outshooting Carolina 26-20 but again the alarming stat is Boston’s 0-for-4 on the power play.

Read More: Bruins, Hurricanes, NHL,
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