|Brian Gionta’s two goals, Carey Price’s shutout lead Canadiens past Bruins in Game 1||04.14.11 at 9:36 pm ET|
By DJ Bean and Scott McLaughlin
The Canadiens took a 1-0 series lead in the Eastern Conference quarterfinals Thursday, defeating the Bruins, 2-0, at TD Garden.
Scott Gomez hit Brian Gionta in front of Tim Thomas following a first-period Tomas Kaberle turnover, with the Habs’ captain cashing in at 2:44 for the game’s first goal. Gionta beat Thomas again on a slapshot with 3:18 remaining in the third.
The Bruins would pick up the pace in the second and third periods, but ultimately were doomed by a combination of solid play from Montreal goaltender Carey Price and a tendency for the B’s to shoot it right into the chest of Price, limiting their second-chance opportunities.
On the night Price stopped all 31 shots he saw en route to the shutout. Tim Thomas made 18 saves on the night.
The two teams will square off Saturday for Game 2. From there, they will play Monday and Thursday in Montreal before returning to Boston, if necessary.
WHAT WENT WRONG FOR THE BRUINS
- Kaberle had a rough night for the Bruins. His turnover in the first period led to Gomez’ pass to set up Gionta’s goal, and he also took a first-period hooking penalty in the first. Furthermore, in order for anyone to buy his fake shots, he’ll have to actually shoot the puck more often. Defensively, he was suspect, and he isn’t bringing enough to the power play/offense to make up for it.
- The top line was ineffective for the majority of the night. The Milan Lucic - David Krejci – Nathan Horton trio totaled just one shot (from Horton) through the first two periods. Though they improved in the third, one period isn’t enough. Lucic has been big for the Bruins in the playoffs before, and Horton’s skill set suggests he can make an impact in the playoffs. They can’t just assume it will happen.
- Special teams are always crucial in the playoffs, and Thursday night, the Bruins just couldn’t get it done on the power play. It would have been one thing if they created a ton of chances and Price stood on his head, but that wasn’t the case.
The B’s struggled all night to set up on the man advantage and looked hesitant to shoot the few times they did. Brad Marchand had a breakaway chance on the first power play of the night and some good puck movement near the end of Boston’s third power play led to a few quality chances on the first shift after the penalty expired, but for the most part, the B’s did not make good use of their time on the man advantage.
WHAT WENT RIGHT FOR THE BRUINS
- After a first period in which the Bruins looked a bit tentative, they stepped up and took control of the game in the second. The B’s outshot Montreal 18-6 in middle frame and had a number of strong offensive zone possessions result in scoring chances. Unfortunately for Boston, Price was always in perfect position to make the save. At the other end of the ice, the Canadiens rarely mustered any sort of attack on the Boston net. The Bruins did pretty much everything you could ask for in the second… except put the puck in the net.
- Thomas and the Bruins dodged a real bullet in the second period. With Thomas way out of his net with the B’s on the power play, Tomas Plekanec had an open net to work with but rushed en route to missing the net.
- Zdeno Chara got five shots through to Price, but B’s fans seemed to take just as much joy in seeing the captain’s slap shots hobble Habs players. Both Andrei Kostitsyn and Travis Moen were slowed after blocking shots from Chara. The B’s captain took a roughing penalty with 2:42 remaining in the third.
|Bruins lose to Maple Leafs in shootout||03.31.11 at 9:53 pm ET|
The Bruins fell to the Maple Leafs, 4-3, in a shootout Thursday night at TD Garden.
The Bruins got goals from Brad Marchand, David Krejci and Andrew Ference. All three Bruins goals came in the second period. Tim Thomas made 32 saves in regulation, and made the save of the game in stopping Mikhail Grabovski on a penalty shot in overtime.
However, the Bruins blew two leads in the game. Joffrey Lupul struck for two goals for Toronto — both of the Toronto forward’s tallies were of game-tying variety, as his second period power-play goal knotted the game at two, and his third-period goal made it 3-3. Lupul went off for slashing Tomas Kaberle with 1:05 remaining in overtime.
The Capitals defeated the Blue Jackets Thursday, so the Bruins are now four points behind Washington. Bruins will wrap up their three-game home-stand on Saturday when they host the Thrashers in a matinee.
WHAT WENT RIGHT FOR THE BRUINS
- Milan Lucic became the 10th player in the post-lockout NHL to have 30 goals, 30 assists and 100 penalty minutes in a season when he assisted Krejci’s second-period goal. Lucic later added to his penalty minute total by fighting Jay Rosehill.
- With Marchand’s shorthanded goal, he moved into a three-way tie for second in the NHL. It also gave him points in three straight games, and he now has five points (2 G, 3 A) over his last five contests.
- Krejci’s goal preserved the high level at which the B’s center has produced. Since Jan. 11, Krejci has not gone more than two consecutive games without a point. He has five (1 G, 4 A) over his last five games.
WHAT WENT WRONG FOR THE BRUINS
- Zdeno Chara went missing for a bit. After his shift with 2:46 remaining in the second period, the Bruins captain was not on the bench, and he was nowhere to be seen as the third period began. He ended up returning to the at 3:05 and playing the third period without appearing hindered, so the B’s seem to have dodged a bullet after a scare to one of their most important players.
- Toronto initially got on the board because a puck deflected off former Leaf Tomas Kaberle. The tally was credited to Luke Schenn. The goal also gave Schenn goals against Thomas in the last two meetings between the two clubs. Not bad for Schenn considering he’s scored just three other times this season.
- Schenn’s first-period tally broke up Thomas’ shutout streak at 1:22:21. For a while it seemed it would take a flukey goal to end the streak, and it did.
- Bruins fans seemed to dislike hearing a Phil Kessel assist being announced more than they did seeing a Toronto goal scored. The former Bruin picked up helpers on both of Lupul’s goals.
|Maple Leafs lead Bruins after one||at 7:44 pm ET|
The Maple Leafs came into Boston desperate for a win, and they lead the Bruins 1-0 thanks to some help from a former friend.
The Leafs got on the board when a shot bounced off Tomas Kaberle and past Tim Thomas at 7:06. Luke Schenn was credited with the goal, which ended Thomas’ shutout streak at 1:22:21.
As far as the sin bin went, stick penalties by rookies plagued the Bruins. Six seconds after Tyler Seguin was out of the box for hooking, Steven Kampfer took the same penalty. Extracurricular activity at 4:00 left Phil Kessel with minors for slashing and roughing, while Andrew Ference went off for slashing. Seguin would make up for his earlier penalty by drawing a hook from NIkolai Kulemin. The B’s will begin the second period with five seconds remaining on the power play.
After one, the Leafs are outshooting the B’s, 10-8.
|Tim Thomas returns to form following four straight losses||03.22.11 at 10:49 pm ET|
Tim Thomas entered Tuesday night in the midst of his worst stretch of the season. He hadn’t won a game in nearly three weeks, going 0-2-2 in his last four starts. It marked the first time all season he had gone four games without a win and the first time all season he had given up three or more goals in four straight.Tuesday night, Thomas returned to form in the Bruins’ 4-1 win over the Devils. He stopped 30 of the 31 shots he faced to earn his 30th win of the season.
“I think it was mutual for both, the team and Timmy,” Bruins coach Claude Julien said of getting back in the win column. “I don’t think we have to worry about him. He’s been a good goaltender for us this year, so it certainly wasn’t a concern on our part more than our team play. And our team play was much better.”
Thomas was especially strong in the early going, as the Devils registered 12 of the game’s first 13 shots. New Jersey did manage to score during that span, but it came on a power-play one-timer by Ilya Kovalchuk that Thomas didn’t have much of a chance to stop.
“I thought we were a little fragile there with what’s been happening,” Julien said. “But we were able to resist and obviously Tim made some big saves early on just to keep us in there.”
Thomas said the key to turning around his recent lack of success was that his defensemen did a better job of allowing him to see the puck.
“They had a few shots, they had a few good chances,” Thomas said. “But they were also letting me see the puck a little bit more than we had in the last few games. … I think that’s definitely a right step forward. We need to build off it and make sure we continue on. And we need to do the same things that gave us success tonight.”
Defenseman Tomas Kaberle said getting out of Thomas’ way is something the team has been focusing on in practice.
“You want him to see the shot,” Kaberle said. “You don’t want to tip the puck or something. You just want to box out in front of the net and hopefully he’ll make the big saves. Especially on the outside, he’s going to make the save every time. We talked about it before the game and in between the periods. He’s been a key to success for us this season and hopefully we keep it that way.”
After the slow start, Boston was able to take control of the game and relieve Thomas of some of the pressure. Following the early 12-1 shot deficit, the Bruins outshot the Devils 29-19 the rest of the way. They also drew five straight penalties at one point and were able to net four unanswered goals.
“I think by the end of the first, or last half of the first period, we started to get our legs moving and that was the difference,” Thomas said. “I think that’s what led to them taking the penalties in the second period, because we were moving our feet and that leads to penalties, drawn penalties. We were able to continue that throughout the game.”
|Bruins sit atop TSN power rankings||03.07.11 at 4:49 pm ET|
Bruins fans have had plenty to be encouraged by over the last few weeks, and Monday saw more good news. Their recent play has propelled them to the top of TSN’s power rankings, flip-flopping them with the Red Wings a week after the B’s held the second spot.
Writes TSN’s Scott Cullen:
“7-0-1 in their last eight games, the Bruins could be really dangerous once they start reaping the expected rewards of D Tomas Kaberle‘s presence on the power play. As it is, they’re 0-for-12 with the man advantage in the last six games.”
For a feel of where the B’s Eastern Conference competitions stands, the Flyers are fifth, while the Canadiens are 10th.
|Bruins, Penguins scoreless after one||03.05.11 at 7:43 pm ET|
The Bruins and Penguins remain scoreless after the first period, with Pittsburgh outshooting the B’s, 14-9.
The Bruins’ lone power play of period came at 13:08, when Ben Lovejoy went off for holding. The B’s failed to convert and are now 1-for-17 on the power play since acquiring Tomas Kaberle.
The period also featured fisticuffs, as Michael Rupp appeared victorious in a bout with Shawn Thornton at 2:59. Later in the period, Nathan Horton beat down Craig Adams when the two got into it at 18:31.
Nathan Horton had a couple of close-range opportunities on Marc-Andre Fleury but was stopped by the goaltender on one and saw his shot get blocked a Penguins skate on the other. Michael Ryder also had a great opportunity on Fleury but held the puck too long in an attempt to deke the Penguins’ goaltender.
|Milan Lucic plays hero in win over Lightning||03.03.11 at 9:28 pm ET|
Milan Lucic kept up his recent hot streak and improved the Bruins’ win streak to seven games by scoring the game-winning goal at 16:18 of the third in a 2-1 victory over the Lightning at TD Garden.
Lucic, who had eight points over the B’s recent six-game road trip, fired a wrist shot past both a mess of bodies and Lightning goaltender Mike Smith at an odd angle to give him his 28th goal of the season and the Bruins a big victory. With the win, the Bruins now lead the Lightning by two points for second place in the Eastern Conference.
Eric Brewer opened the scoring in the game, beating Tim Thomas at 4:04 of the second for his ninth goal of the season. Steven Kampfer responded with his his fifth of the season at 6:06. Kampfer would later take a big hit in the corner from Mattias Ritola and not return to the game.
Thomas made 27 saves and picked up the victory, improving to 29-8-6 on the season.
WHAT WENT RIGHT FOR THE BRUINS
- Kampfer did a good job of both redeeming himself and scoring his first goal in quite a while. After his turnover in the Bruins’ zone led to Brewer’s goal, he responded in short order by beating Smith with a snapshot from the point to tie the score at one. It was Kampfer’s fifth goal of the season, and first since Jan. 13. His status after leaving the game, however, is unclear.
- It was a good home debut for Rich Peverley and Chris Kelly, both of whom have been able to strike up good chemistry on their line with Michael Ryder. Both Kelly and Peverley, donning home sweaters for the first time at TD Garden, were credited with a helper on Kampfer’s goal and were a plus-1 on the night.
- Johnny Boychuk was crushing people. He laid a huge hip check on Nate Thompson in the third and followed it up with a big hit in the corner on Blair Jones.
WHAT WENT WRONG FOR THE BRUINS
- When things get chippy between the Bruins and their opponents, the obvious way to settle it is by dropping the gloves. The Lightning aren’t that kind of team (they’re 27th in the league in major penalties while the B’s are 4th), and it seemed the only way the B’s could find a fight was to wind up shorthanded. That was the case in the second period, when a Nathan Horton trip and Lucic roughing penalty resulted in Lucic dropping the gloves with Brewer. The B’s wound up having to kill a 5-on-3, but they did so successfully.
- Once again, the power play looked very good despite the fact that it didn’t get results. Still, sooner or later, results are how that facet must be judged. The B’s were 0-for-3 on the man advantage Thursday, and they’re now 1-for-16 since acquiring Tomas Kaberle, who looked good in keeping the puck in during Brewer’s high sticking penalty but also sent the puck out with a blind pass. Still, the unit appeared to be vastly improved, and it’s hard to imagine results not coming in the near future.
- Smith entered the game with a 3.20 goals against average, but he sure didn’t play like it. The Lightning netminder came up with huge saves throughout the night, robbing Patrice Bergeron in the first, Horton on a breakaway in the second and Brad Marchand in the slot in the third.
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