|Second period summary: Bruins vs. Lightning||03.25.10 at 8:42 pm ET|
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.
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.
Bruins are more-than-doubling up Tampa Bay on the shot clock, 31-15, after 40 minutes.
|First period summary: Bruins vs. Lightning||at 7:51 pm ET|
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.
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.
|The Hat Trick: Bruins finish strong||03.16.10 at 10:21 pm ET|
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.
|Bruins cap trip with 5-2 win over Canes||at 8:29 pm ET|
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.
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.
|Second period summary: Bruins-Hurricanes||at 7:47 pm ET|
The two teams exchanged goals in the second period as the Bruins take a 2-1 lead over the Hurricanes after 40 minutes.
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.
|First period summary: Bruins-Hurricanes||at 6:45 pm ET|
The Bruins couldn’t have scripted a better start to what could be considered a key – if not critical – conclusion to their season-long seven game road trip. And they took advantage of the early momentum to take a 1-0 lead after one.
Bruins outshot the Hurricanes, 18-7, in exerting their dominance.
The biggest concern, however, continues to be taking advantage of their momentum to build onto a lead, particularly on the power play as the Bruins couldn’t convert on a 5-on-3 power play and a more conventional 5-on-4 advantage.
Since their best playmaker Marc Savard went down with a concussion, the Bruins have scored just once in 11 tries on the power play and haven’t scored in their last nine tries.
|The Hat Trick: Should B’s stick with Tim?||03.06.10 at 6:31 pm ET|
The Bruins came out flying against the Islanders Saturday at Nassau Coliseum, and though they ended up beating the East’s third-worst team by just one goal, Claude Julien will take it. Considering the team has won six of their last seven, yet at 69 points could be two losses (and two Rangers/Canadiens wins) away from going from seventh to out of the playoffs, he’ll take anything he can get.
The 3-2 win wasn’t necessarily pretty, and, as evidenced by Marc Savard‘s disgustingly lucky second-period goal and Michael Ryder‘s game misconduct, neither was the scoring sheet. Still, on a day where the Islanders swarmed Tim Thomas for the final two periods but still couldn’t break the Bruins’ impressive penalty kill, there was enough good to go around in the Bruins win.
There was plenty to take away from a win that the team will need to build upon if they want any chance at defeating Sidney Crosby and the Penguins on Sunday. For starters, the dynamic between Miroslav Satan and David Krejci truly is a beautiful thing to watch. After his second period goal Krejci told NESN that the two Europeans complement each other so well because the similarities in their style of play lead to a predictability as to what the other will do. They certainly kept if from Dwaye Roloson well.
Also, the Bruins continued to show their nack for scoring the first goal. Milan Lucic‘s goal at 18:26 of the first, his sixth of the season, marked the ninth time in the Bruins’ last 10 games that they scored the game’s first goal.
Here are the other intriguing storylines that stemmed from the victory:
WHO’S IN NET?
Two days after leading the Bruins to a shootout victory against the Maple Leafs, Tim Thomas made 37 saves to secure the victory in Saturday’s matinee. All of this, of course, has taken place while Tuukka Rask has been nursing a knee injury.
So how quick should Claude Julien be to dust off the Vezina and give most of the remaining starts to Thomas? After all, with the Bruins having won six of their last seven, Rask was between the pipes for the first four (and perhaps the only real difficult opponent in Buffalo).
The statistical edge would go to the 22-year old Rask, who has just eight losses on the season and has the lower GAA (a league-best 2.14) and save percentage (.926). He’s also lost just eight games to Thomas’ 15, though that will happen when you play around 400 minutes less than the other guy.
Still, even with the numbers leaning in the Rask’s favor, the last time the Bruins went into the playoffs riding the regular-season success of a young goaltender, they failed to escape the first round behind Calder Trophy-winning Andrew Raycroft.
Whoever the Bruins, who with 162 goals against have given up the third-least amount of goals in the East, elect to go with as their No. 1 goaltender, time is running out to settle on who the man will potentially be come the playoffs. In order for the Bruins to avoid the fate of the Flyers with Hextall/Snow, Wild with Fernandez/Roloson, and other teams whose goaltending carousel failed their playoff expectations, Julien needs to make up his mind.
SAVARD’S SCORING TOUCH IS BACK, KIND OF
It had been 18 games since Marc Savard had scored for the Bruins, and he used an oddity of Nassau Coliseum to his advantage to finally do so on Saturday. A goal’s a goal any way you slice it, and nobody said they have to be pretty. And if what happened Saturday will help him make up for missed time with a little more scoring, that’s just fine.
A missed slapshot from Patrice Bergeron while the Bruins were on the power play in the second period seemed harmless enough to Islanders goaltender and Rick-Depietro-replacement-of-the-year Dwane Roloson, but the funny bounce it took off of the glass to the right of the Islanders net helped it squirt back in front to Savard, who seemed to be the only one on the ice still following the puck. He used his skate to kick it over to his stick and effortlessly backhanded it into the empty net for his tenth goal of the season.
Again: pretty? Certainly not. Game-winning goal and maybe a momentum-shifter? Sure, why not? The Bruins have had a need for more scoring all season, so who is anyone to turn their nose at any added (albeit ugly) offensive output from their high-profile playmaker?
PENALTY KILL BENDS BUT WON’T BREAK
While the Bruins await word from the NHL regarding whether they will have Michael Ryder in their lineup in future games, the five minutes following his frightening hit from behind on Islanders winger Blake Comeau is what kept the Bruins from losing their grip on against the Islanders on Saturday.
The five-minute major came in a second period during which the Islanders fired 22 shots on Tim Thomas, so the idea of being shorthanded when the Islanders had found more life than they had perhaps in the entire game was certainly not an appetizing thought for the Bruins. Especially with the added bonus that they would open the third period down a man.
Though the Bruins allowed a rare power-play goal to Josh Bailey at 2:18 earlier in the period, it was what they did on the five-minute major that sent the message. With a 2-1 lead Tim Thomas and the Bruins stopped the Islanders and their six shots, reminding Scott Gordon and the rest of the league that though they certainly have their flaws, the Bruins are perhaps at their best when down a man.
The Bruins remain the league’s best penalty-killing team and it clearly gave them an edge in which they were unexpectedly peppered for the second and third periods. With the goaltending starting to take better shape with the improved play of Thomas and the eventual return of Rask, it will be a huge asset should the Bruins secure a playoff spot.