|Pens show Bruins they’re a lot more than just Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin||03.05.11 at 11:10 pm ET|
If the Bruins somehow wind up playing the Penguins in the Stanley Cup playoffs this spring they should take a very close look at the video from Saturday night’s game at TD Garden.
Without superstars Sidney Crosby [concussion] and Evgeni Malkin [right knee], the Penguins got two goals from HBO “24/7″ star Dustin Jeffrey, including the game winner less than two minutes into overtime to come away with a 3-2 win over the Bruins, snapping Boston’s seven-game winning streak.
Crosby or no Crosby, Malkin or no Malkin, the Penguins played exactly the kind of hockey that wins in the playoffs. It’s not superstar hockey, it’s team hockey. What exactly is that?
“They’re a lot more hard-working,” Bruins defenseman Johnny Boychuk said. “Their hard work takes over [for] their skill. When they have those other guys in, there’s a lot of skill in there and they still work hard, but they try to make different plays than they would if they had those guys in the lineup. They just got the [puck] in deep and just tried to keep as much time in our zone as possible.”
B’s coach Claude Julien had his own take.
“Obviously, they’re missing some star players,” Julien noted. “We thought one of our best forwards tonight was missing, too. You have to adjust to those kinds of things and what it boils down to is the team play. And that’s what they did tonight, they played a good team game.
“They were forechecking hard, they were on top of us. Even when we got the puck in the neutral zone, they didn’t give us much time. They really skated hard and took away our time and space and they did a good job of that. I think that’s where their success came from tonight. When you work hard enough, eventually you get rewarded, and they got a break there at the end and were able to score in OT.”
|Bruins come back but lose to Penguins in overtime||at 9:35 pm ET|
The Bruins fell to the Penguins, 3-2, in overtime Saturday night, stopping their winning streak at seven games.
The Penguins, who have been without star forwards Evgeni Malkin and Sidney Crosby, picked up just their second victory in their last eight games, largely on the strength of two tallies from Dustin Jeffreys, the last of which decided the game at 1:52 of overtime.
Of course, in some ways, the Bruins were fortunate to get a single point. With the Bruins trailing, 2-1, and Tim Thomas pulled, Tomas Kaberle blocked a shot from Boston nemesis Matt Cooke the B’s moved the puck up the ice and attacked the Pittsburgh goal, with David Krejci scoring with 32.5 seconds left to tie the game and send it to overtime.
Zdeno Chara opened the game’s scoring, taking a pass from Krejci and firing a wrist shot past Penguins goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury for his 11th goal of the season. Chara’s goal came at 7:26 of the second period, though a Penguins 2-on-1 less than three minutes later would result in a Jordan Staal goal to tie it up at 10:09. The Penguins would take the lead at 11:19 on Jeffreys’ sixth goal of the season.
Thomas took the loss for the Bruins, falling to 29-8-7 on the season. The Bruins will next play on Tuesday, when they travel to Montreal to face the Canadiens for the fifth time this season.
WHAT WENT WRONG FOR THE BRUINS
- There may not be a more frustrating penalty for a team to take than too-many-men on the ice, and the Bruins did just that in the first minute of the second period. Milan Lucic served the bench minor at 0:53, though the Penguins did not capitalize on the power play.
That wasn’t the extent of the frustrating penalties for the Bruins, as Lucic would go off for hooking at 14:49 of the third with the B’s trailing by a goal. Like the too-many-men penalty, it didn’t end up proving costly on the scoreboard, though it chopped two minutes off a comeback bid.
- The infusion of Kaberle into the power play still hasn’t led to the results the Bruins need. The B’s found themselves with a man advantage just once on the night, and in failing to convert have now gone 1-for-17 on the power play since acquiring Kaberle. Again, it isn’t a case of the power play looking necessarily bad, as Kaberle’s passes have made him appear as advertised. The lack of finishing touch, however, remains a big problem for the unit.
- The winning streak wasn’t going to last forever, but the Bruins had a chance to come within a point of the Flyers for the top spot in the Eastern Conference. The Flyers lost to the Sabres, 5-3, on Saturday and have dropped their last three game. They’ve gone 2-4-1 in their last seven, so the Bruins have been able to gain on them significantly of late.
WHAT WENT RIGHT FOR THE BRUINS
- In begin credited with the assists on Chara’s goal and contributing the equalizer, Krejci and Lucic each have 11 points over their last eight games. Krejci, who hit Chara with a nice pass at the blue line, has two goals and nine assists over the span, while Lucic has scored five and gotten six helpers.
- Remember Chara’s fun Peter Bondra-inspired celebration when he picked up a hat trick against the Hurricanes on Jan. 17? That was the last time he had scored until Saturday. Chara broke a 19-game goal-less streak with his wrister from the high slot.
- The Bruins, who have battled back in the third period many a time this season, did so again. After the Penguins outshot Boston by a 29-10 count through two periods, the Bruins put more pucks on the net than Pittsburgh in the third. Matt Cooke had the opportunity to bury the game with an empty-netter, but his bid was blocked.
|Bruins trail Penguins entering third||at 8:36 pm ET|
The Bruins got on the board first, but they trail the Penguins, 2-1, after two periods of play. The Penguins are outshooting the B’s, 29-20.
The Bruins opened the scoring when David Krejci hit Zdeno Chara in the high slot, where the captain fired off a wrist shot that beat Marc-Andre Fluery. It was Chara’s first goal in 20 games, with his last coming on Jan. 17 vs. the Hurricane (Chara had a hat trick in the 7-0 win).
The Penguins took less than three minutes to respond, as a good opportunity from the third line turned into a 2-on-1 for the Penguins when Johnny Boychuk failed to keep the puck in the zone. Jordan Staal scored on the 2-on-1, his seventh of the season.
Dustin Jeffrey made it 2-1 at 11:19 when he slid one past Thomas from the hahmarks.
|Tim Thomas in goal for Bruins vs. Penguins||at 6:39 pm ET|
Tim Thomas led the Bruins out onto the ice Saturday night, meaning he will be between the pipes vs. the Penguins. The status of the starting goaltender was unclear throughout the day, as the B’s held an optional morning skate.
Thomas is 29-8-6 this season with a league-best 1.95 goals against average and a .940 save percentage. He allowed one goal in Thursday’s 2-1 win over the Lightning. The Bruins have won seven in a row.
|Bruins and Lightning get on the board (and in the box) in second period||03.03.11 at 8:38 pm ET|
Things got ramped up a bit (both scoring-wise and otherwise) in the second period, and the Bruins and Lightning are tied at one goal apiece entering the third.
From a goals perspective, it was a tale of two Steve Kampfers. The rookie blueliner couldn’t get the puck out of the Bruins’ zone just over four minutes into the period, and the play resulted in Eric Brewer beating Tim Thomas for his ninth goal of the season at 3:04. Kampfer would make up for it, as he scored his fifth of the season with a blast from the point at 6:06. Chris Kelly and Rich Peverley, both making their home debut as Bruins, picked up assists on the play.
The Bruins have shown throughout the season that they can handle the high intensity, high physicality games. They’ve done so against some of the tougher teams in the league, and it seems they’re trying to do the same against a team that isn’t known for dropping the gloves.
There was a lot of chippy play in the second period Thursday night (some of which even came from Martin St. Louis) and it finally culminated in a fight when Milan Lucic tangoed with Brewer at 10:10. While seemingly a potential momentum-booster in a tied game at first glance, the play resulted in the Lightning getting a two-man advantage. Nathan Horton had tripped Sean Bergenheim, and when Bergenheim responded, Lucic jumped in and was eventually assessed a roughing minor. The B’s ended up killing off the 5-on-3.
|Bruins, Lightning scoreless after one||at 7:42 pm ET|
The Bruins and Lightning are as close as it gets in the standings. It seems that has translated to Thursday’s game, as the two teams are scoreless after a period of play at the Garden.
The Lightning outshot the Bruins, 10-8, in the period. After an ill-advised maneuver by Tim Thomas behind his net early on, he had to rush back to make a kick-save on Teddy Purcell. Thomas later robbed Mattias Ritola in front with just over 12 minutes left in the period, but the Milan Lucic went to the box afterwards for a clear-as-day cross-check.
Simon Gagne had a great opportunity on the power play, but went the puck across the crease. With 25 seconds remaining on the penalty, Steven Stamos beat Thomas with a wrist-shot but clanked it off the post.
Adam Hall drew the Lightning’s only penalty, going off for hooking David Krejci at 10:47. The Bruins are now 1-for-14 on the power play since Tomas Kaberle entered the fold, though they’re getting their chances.
Brad Marchand led the B’s with two shots in the period. Lightning goalie Mike Smith made a big stop on Patrice Bergeron on perhaps the Bruins’ best scoring opportunity thus far.
No time for celebration, as the Bruins, fresh off a 6-0-0 road trip, are back at the Garden for a huge game with the Lightning on Thursday. The teams are tied with 81 points apiece through 63 games, with the B’s holding the tie-breaker for second place given that they’ve won less games via shootout.
It will be Tim Thomas between the pipes, as he’ll put his 28-8-6 record on the line after last playing Saturday night in Vancouver. Tuukka Rask started the Bruins’ last two, earning victories over the Oilers and Senators.
Thomas is 2-0-0 in two starts against Tampa Bay, allowing four goals with a .944 save percentage.
While the Bruins have won their last six, the Lightning have gone 3-2-1 in the same span. They lost a 2-1 contest to the red-hot Devils on Wednesday.
Here are some pre-game notes:
- Comparisons are nice, but even Roger Clemens would say people are beating references to 1972′s perfect six-game road trip with a dead horse.
“I don’t look at it at all,” Shawn Thornton said after the morning skate. “I honestly don’t. It’s purely a coincidence as far as I’m concerned.
“We’ve got a six game thing going here, and it doesn’t matter about anything else. We’re just trying to get seven in a row and then eight in a row. We’ll take it one at time here.”
- Claude Julien offered an update on Andrew Ference, who is out with a lower body injury.
“He got examined yesterday by our doctors and things are going extremely well for him,” Julien said. “We hope to see him back on the ice the beginning of next week. That could be as early as Sunday if things keep going well.”
- No Vincent Lecavalier for the Lightning. He’s out with a mid-body injury on which the Lightning haven’t elaborated much.
- The three new guys in Tomas Kaberle, Rich Peverley and Chris Kelly will play in the Garden as Bruins for the first time Thursday. Kaberle and Kelly have played five games for the B’s since being acquired via trade, while Peverley has four under his belt.
While Bruins fans will welcome all three to the Garden, the focus will likely be on Kaberle, who was the big fish of trade season. Neither of the newcomers have lost a game as a member of the Bruins, and after years of limited team success in Toronto, that’s something Kaberle welcomes.
“My first six years I played in the playoffs every year. The last five, it wasn’t there. It’s tough to always answer the questions to the media of ‘why not,’” Kaberle said after the morning skate. “Hopefully we’ll have a good rest of the season and prepare for the playoffs.”
Kaberle said he is feeling more and more comfortable as he familiarizes himself with the Bruins way.
“I feel good. Obviously it’s a great team. Every line’s got something on the ice, and everybody can score. It’s nice to see that, and with two goalies behind us, we feel pretty comfortable.”
- Kaberle is undoubtedly the biggest name the team added when the moves were made, but Kelly and Peverley are fitting in very nicely on the third line. Both were among the leagues better faceoff men at the time they were acquired, and having both taking draws and killing penalties is something Julien likes to see.
“Right now, you’ve got to be extremely pleased with first of all [Peverley's] faceoffs, how dominant he’s been on draws,” Julien said. “With that line you’ve got a guy taking him on the strong side, and Kelly, a lefty and a righty, so you’ve got to be comfortable with that situation.”
“At the same time I think both Kelly and Peverley have seemed to have built some pretty quick chemistry there on the penalty kill as well. They seem to read off each other extremely well.”
- Thornton doesn’t want the new guys’ ability to come in and contribute immediately to go unnoticed. All three players have wound up on the scoring sheet since joining the B’s.
“They’re a big part of it too. These guys came in and stepped in seamlessly,” Thornton said. “It’s been a really easy transition for us and them.”
- How about this one from the stat truck? Over the last 10 games, Tyler Seguin has more goals than Steven Stamkos. Take that, development.
Well, not exactly. By Stamkos’ standards, the Tampa Bay star is in a slump as far as goals go. He has just two over the last 10 games (Seguin has three), but continues to lead the league with 41. Seguin has no points over his last four games.
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