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Bruins’ comeback falls short vs. Maple Leafs 03.23.13 at 9:47 pm ET
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The Bruins made it interesting in the third period, but a three-goal hole proved too much to overcome as they fell to the Maple Leafs, 3-2, Saturday night at Air Canada Centre.

The Maple Leafs got goals in the first and second periods from Nazem Kadri and Mikhail Grabovski, respectively. Frazer McLaren made it 3-0 early in the third when he took a loose puck in front of the net and backhanded it off his skate and through the five-hole of Khudobin. The goal chased Khudobin in favor of Tuukka Rask, as Claude Julien replaced his starting goaltender for the first time this season. Khudobin, who was starting his second consecutive game for the first time this season, allowed the three goals on 11 shots.

Dennis Seidenberg got the Bruins on the board with a wrist shot from the point following the goalie change, with Andrew Ference scoring to make it 3-2 with the goalie pulled and just over a minute to play.

The Bruins outshot the Leafs, 33-13. The loss was the Bruins’ first against the Maple Leafs since March 19, 2011, breaking up a string of eight consecutive wins against Toronto for the B’s.

With their four-game road trip concluded (1-3-0), the Bruins will return to Boston and host the Leafs Monday at TD Garde

WHAT WENT WRONG FOR THE BRUINS

- With the Bruins down two of their six defensemen in Adam McQuaid (shoulder) and Johnny Boychuk (leg), Claude Julien had to rely more on his other blueliners. Andrew Ference led the B’s in time on ice through two periods (16:59) as Julien played Dougie Hamilton (8:09 through two periods) more sparingly. Hamilton did come up big by swatting a puck out that was headed into the net after a Khudobin save on a Toronto 2-on-1, but Julien clearly had his younger defensemen on a shorter leash Saturday.

- Speaking of defensemen, Bartkowski had a forgettable night in his season debut. The 24-year-old was on the ice for Toronto’s first two goals, the second of which was the result of a play that started with the youngster pinching in the offensive zone. With Bartkowski pinching, Toronto was able to get the puck out of the zone, and though Milan Lucic was back, Grabovski was able to blow past him with ease.

- Bartkowksi and Lucic weren’t the only two who deserved blame on the Grabovski goal. The Toronto forward was struggling with the puck from the right circle, and David Krejci had both time and the opportunity to take the body or steal the puck, but he allowed Grabovski to regain control of the puck and fire a shot past Khudobin to make it 2-0.

- The Bruins turned it on following an Aaron Johnson high-sticking penalty in the first period, and the closest they got to scoring was on a shift by the David Krejci line. Nathan Horton had two golden opportunities to tie the game, but couldn’t bury it. Horton had James Reimer off-guard when the right-winger controlled a loose puck in front but fired a low shot right into the Toronto goaltender’s pads.

- The Bruins were putting the pressure on heavy after Seidenberg got them on the board, but a power play in which they got zero shots on goal halted any momentum the B’s may have gained to that point.

WHAT WENT RIGHT FOR THE BRUINS

- Though they got nothing to show for it, the Gregory Campbell line was once again Boston’s third line and came out of the first period with two of Boston’s better shifts in the first 20 minutes. Daniel Paille failed to bury chances on both shifts, but give the Merlot Line — including Shawn Thornton, who dropped the gloves with Colton Orr after Toronto took a 1-0 lead — credit for showing up in an increased role.

- Seidenberg’s goal was his second in as many games, which is pretty impressive when you consider that he had no goals on the season entering Thursday.

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Tuukka Rask: ‘Our heads were not in it at all’ 03.14.13 at 10:50 pm ET
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Tuukka Rask stopped 29-of-30 shots and was voted the No. 1 star of Thursday’s 4-1 over the Panthers at TD Garden.

But Rask was hardly impressed with Boston’s 18th win of the season, especially when the Bruins allowed a short-handed goal in the second period and were fighting for their lives with the lowly, injury-riddled Panthers, who came in allowing an NHL-worst 101 goals.

“We were pretty bad out there at times,” Rask said. “Our heads were not in it at all. That short-handed goal tells a lot about that. I mean, weren’t that bad, defensively.”

The Panthers had the first five shots of the game before Boston rebounded to take a 16-11 advantage in shots after one. The Panthers then outworked the Bruins in the second, outshooting them, 12-7, and trailed just 2-1 after a shorty by Shawn Matthias.

“The first period I had a lot of shots,” Rask said. “It wasn’t that bad, despite the breakaway and a couple of turnovers, it wasn’t that bad. It was pretty clear where guys were coming from. Then, in the second period, it was just a mess. Pucks everywhere, guys were everywhere, there was no structure in our game. There are two different kind of scenarios for a goalie to face but in the third, we played a pretty solid period.

“We haven’t played our best hockey except for the Philly game. We’ve blown a couple of leads in the third and stuff like that. We should be aware of what’s coming at us in games like this. Today was a little sluggish. Our heads were not in it. It shouldn’t be catching us off-guard.

“It’s kind of like Ottawa. They had a similar situation. They just grind out it and try to get points and gritty goals and stuff like that. We knew that was coming. They played a pretty good game. They know our system. They have Rammer [Craig Ramsay] there as a coach so give them credit, too. But we just weren’t at our best.”

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Tuukka Rask to face Flyers for first time since 2010 playoffs 03.09.13 at 12:16 pm ET
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Tuukka Rask will start for the Bruins Saturday against the Flyers, Claude Julien said prior to the game. Rask is looking to snap his first losing streak of the season, as he was between the pipes for Boston’s last two losses against the Canadiens and Capitals.

The start will mark the first time Rask has faced the Flyers since Game 7 of the 2010 Eastern Conference semifinals, when Philadelphia overcame a 3-0 Bruins lead by scoring four unanswered goals to eliminate the Bruins from a series that they had led, 3-0.

For more on the Bruins, visit weei.com/bruins.

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Blown away: Bruins blow three-goal lead, lose in OT to Capitals 03.05.13 at 9:51 pm ET
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Dougie Hamilton celebrates after scoring Boston's third goal that gave the Bruins a 3-0 lead in the first period. (AP)

Eric Fehr scored on a phenomenal rush up the slot just 37 seconds into overtime as the Bruins blew a 3-0 lead and lost to the Capitals, 4-3, in overtime Tuesday night at the Verizon Center. Tuukka Rask, who couldn’t protect the 3-0 lead, made 22 saves in the loss.

The Bruins lost their second straight game for the second time this season and fell to 14-3-3 on the season.

With Tyler Seguin in the penalty box serving a two-minute hooking penalty, Brad Marchand was hooked on a short-handed breakaway from behind by Alex Ovechkin and was awarded a penalty shot. Marchand beat Braden Holtby for a 1-0 lead at 6:29 of the first. It was the first short-handed penalty shot goal since Jan. 10, 2012 when Shawn Thornton scored against Winnipeg.

With the Bruins in control, they added a pair of goals 1:23 apart late in the first to make it a 3-0 game after one period. Zdeno Chara pinched down low in the offensive zone and snapped a shot past Holtby at 17:07. Then the Bruins capitalized on what appeared to be a questionable interference call on Ovechkin.

Just 15 seconds into the penalty, Dougie Hamilton fired a shot from the top of the slot through a partial screen. The puck found its way past Holtby and the Bruins had a 3-0 lead after 20 minutes.

The Capitals, who came in winners of six of their last nine games, showed some resolve in the second period. Ovechkin found Mike Ribeiro on the low left circle in front of Rask. Ribeiro redirected the puck into the part of the net vacated by Rask at 5:46 of the second. Six minutes later, the Capitals made it a one-goal game when Tomas Kundratek fired one past Rask.

The Bruins had two golden chances to build on their one-goal lead in the third period but neither David Krejci nor Tyler Seguin could finish 3-on-1 breaks on Holtby.

Moments after Holtby turned aside Seguin, Fehr backhanded a pass from the mid-slot that deflected off the leg of Hamilton and found its way onto the stick of Wojtek Wolski, who beat Rask to tie the game, 3-3, with 6:05 left in regulation. The Bruins had one more great chance when Ovechkin was called for hooking with 2:27 left in regulation. But the Bruins managed just two shots on the power play and couldn’t get the go-ahead marker.

Then, in the opening moments of overtime, Niklas Backstrom took a puck in the neutral zone and backhanded a pass for Fehr, who streaked up the middle and beat Rask as he was falling to the ice for the game-winner. Fehr also finished with two assists on the night for the Capitals, who improved to 9-11-1.

The Bruins return to action Thursday night when they host the Maple Leafs at TD Garden. For more, visit the Bruins team page at weei.com/bruins.

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Tuukka Rask takes the blame in the loss 03.04.13 at 9:55 am ET
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The shot that tied Sunday’s game at 3-3 appeared to be one of those helpless feelings for a goaltender. A long shot from the top of the slot, through a screen and the goalie couldn’t do much about until it was past him.

But when Tuukka Rask allowed Max Pacioretty‘s cannon of a shot to get past him five minutes into the third, he felt like that was on him.

“Obviously, you don’t want that to happen,” Rask said. “I take that third goal—that was a bad goal by me—but then a tough bounce on the fourth, and we couldn’t get back.

“I saw him kind of release it, and that’s all I need to know. I think I was just a little too sloppy. I wasn’t really ready for that shot, I guess, and it just went through me. Those are always the tough ones you want to get back.”

The fourth goal was a mad scramble that started out to the right of Rask and behind the net. The puck was poked out in front where David Desharnais easily pushed it into the open net.

“It didn’t hit me,” Rask said. “I think it hit Pacioretty when he screened me, and then I thought it would bounce in the corner, but then it just trickled on the side of the net. I dove in there, [Andrew Ference] dove in there, everybody dove in there, and then they found a guy on net and he just buried it.”

Both goals occurred with Chara looking on from the penalty box after taking his 17-minute penalty for sticking up for Tyler Seguin.

“You know what, I didn’t even realize he was in the box until I saw him coming out,” Rask said. “I was just focused on the game, I guess, but he makes a big difference, everybody knows it. He’s got that long reach and takes care of the bodies in front of the net. So, obviously, a big difference, yeah.

“We’re known as a team that, we stick for each other, and that was a pretty bad crosscheck there on Segs. Obviously, Z saw that and jumped in. We killed a penalty when it happened, but it sucks to lose him for 20 minutes or so.”

The lesson?

“I don’t think we played that bad in the third,” Rask said. “We got stuck out there for that third goal a bit, but that just happens sometimes. But then they get that tying goal, and the fourth one was just a tough bounce. I think after that fourth goal we were kind of wondering what the heck happened there. On a couple of shifts they got a two-on-one there and stuff like that. I think there’s been a couple of games in the past, too, where we’ve gotten the lead in the third and we don’t play the way we want to, but we just haven’t got caught with goals against us. But, today was different.”

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Lines unchanged as Bruins prepare for Senators 02.28.13 at 11:47 am ET
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After completing a five-game road trip Tuesday night, the Bruins are set to kick off a three-game home stand when they host the Senators in what will be the first of three games in four days.

All members of the Bruins were on the ice at morning skate, with Tuukka Rask the first goaltender off the ice, suggesting he will start his fifth consecutive game. Here’s the projected lineup for Thursday.

Milan Lucic – David Krejci – Nathan Horton
Brad Marchand – Patrice Bergeron – Tyler Seguin
Chris Bourque – Chris Kelly – Rich Peverley
Daniel Paille – Gregory Campbell – Shawn Thornton

Zdeno Chara – Johnny Boychuk
Dennis Seidenberg – Dougie Hamilton
Andrew Ference – Adam McQuaid

Tuukka Rask

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Andy Brickley on M&M: Contraction good for NHL, but ‘I can’t see it happening’ 02.27.13 at 2:19 pm ET
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Andy Brickley

NESN Bruins analyst Andy Brickley joined Mut & Merloni on Tuesday to talk about the proposed NHL realignment, how it could be complicated by team relocations, and Tuukka Rask‘s contract status as he continues to put together a strong year.

“I like that you play every team in the league home and home,” Brickley said of the realignment plan. “I like that you play down out of your division once you get into the postseason. I think that’s truly what builds rivalries, which is what they’re looking for. That was certainly the case back in the day, when you had to get out of your division before you could advance deeper into the postseason. I like that. And I think the divisions the way they’re created are going to cut down on travel, wear and tear, the time zone travel, and that’s all good.

“What I don’t like is the unevenness of the number of teams in the division, and the uneven number of games played against opponents in your own division. And does the number of teams in your division negatively affect your team’s chances of making the postseason? Those are my concerns. And then looking forward, are we looking at this formula because we’re preparing for two more teams, to prepare for two more cities? And what happens to realignment if a Western Conference team has to relocate to Quebec City and we’re just going to do the whole exercise all over again?”

Brickley said attendance at the Bruins’ recent games on Long Island and in Florida was sparse, but that the league is far more likely to relocate those teams, or the league-owned Coyotes, than to contract the number of teams in the league.

“Those things will never happen,” he said. “They will never take backward steps in that direction. I certainly can’t see it. There’s too much money at stake. … There’s too much strength in the union to allow that number of loss of jobs. I don’t see it, although it might be good for the game in the long run, but I can’t see it happening.”

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