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Tuukka Rask off first for Bruins, Andrew Ference to play vs. Sabres 01.20.11 at 12:03 pm ET
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Bruins coach Claude Julien described defenseman Andrew Ference as “good and cleared to go,” meaning the blueliner will make his return to the lineup when the B’s host the Sabres on Thursday night. Ference has missed the team’s last three games with an upper-body injury. Adam McQuaid, who missed last Monday’s game against the Penguins, is out, with Julien adding that he still is less than 100 percent.

“It’s not a tough decision [to sit McQuaid] because in his case, he’s been playing banged up for the last couple of weeks,” Julien said. “I think the medical staff said it would probably be beneficial for him to take a bit of a break. I think he could certainly play through it if he had to.”

Tuukka Rask was the first goaltender off the ice in the morning skate, an indication that he will start in goal. In Rask’s last start against the Sabres, he allowed three goals in the first period an was replaced by Tim Thomas at the start of the second. The Bruins went on to lose the game, 7-6, in a shootout.

Read More: Adam McQuaid, Andrew Ference, Tim Thomas, Tuukka Rask
Penguins do the third-period scoring, sink Bruins 01.15.11 at 3:27 pm ET
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The Bruins were used to third-period success against the Penguins this season, but the tables were somewhat turned Saturday in a 3-2 Penguins victory.

With the Penguins entering Saturday having allowed nine third-period goals and scoring none against the Bruins this season, Jordan Staal changed Pittsburgh’s fortune by scoring at 3:25 of the third to break a 2-2 tie.

After falling behind, 2-0, on goals from Chris Kunitz and Pascal Dupuis, the Bruins got two goals 13 seconds apart from Dennis Seidenberg and Michael Ryder, though they failed to add more despite the 46 shots they got on Penguins netminder Marc-Andre Fleury.

Tuukka Rask made 34 saves on 36 shots and fell to 4-9-1 on the season.

The Bruins will conclude their current fur-game homestead when they host the Hurricanes for a matinee on Monday.

WHAT WENT WRONG FOR THE BRUINS

Steven Kampfer left the game less than a minute into the second period and did not return. He took a high stick from Pascal Dupuis in the corner and left a small puddle of blood on the ice before exiting.

Kampfer was unable to disrupt Kunitz in front of the net on the Penguins’ first goal and was also on the ice for Dupuis’ tally, giving him a minus-2 rating in his 5:54 of ice time.

– With Sidney Crosby out still out for the Penguins with a concussion, Staal did the damage offensively for the Penguins. The 2006 second overall pick made the pass that bounced off Kunitz’ skate and into the net in the first period, while he scored his second goal of the season by backhanding one past Rask in the third period. Saturday marked Staal’s seventh game back since returning from a broken hand.

Matt Cooke also had a multi-point game, assisting both Kunitz’ and Staal’s tallies.

– Apparently the teams got the second and third periods mixed up. The Bruins, in something more typical of their third-period play vs. the Penguins this season, ended the second period on a high note with two quick strikes. The Penguins had not scored a third period goal against the Bruins this season prior to Staal’s goal.

WHAT WENT RIGHT FOR THE BRUINS

– Ryder has now scored in consecutive games, and both of them were big goals. After netting the tally that gave the B’s a 4-3 lead in the third period Thursday against the Flyers, Ryder came up big again, tying the game at two late in the second period Saturday.

The 30-year-old tied a season high for shots on goal in a game with seven. He also had seven on Dec. 20 in the team’s 3-0 loss to the Ducks.

– The brief injury scare for Marc Savard proved to be nothing. The center, who is just 21 games into his return from post-concussion syndrome, was down on the ice for about a minute in the third period and was visited by trainer Don DelNegro before leaving the ice on his own power. Savard returned to play on his next shift.

– Seidenberg had his second multi-point night in the last four games. He put the B’s on the board with a blast from the point in the second period that was aided by some fine screen-work by Daniel Paille. He assisted Ryder’s strike 13 seconds later.

On the season, Seidenberg now has 18 points.

Read More: Jordan Staal, Tuukka Rask,
Chris Kunitz goal has Penguins leading Bruins after one at 1:47 pm ET
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The Penguins don’t have Sidney Crosby, but they do have a 1-0 lead after a period at TD Garden.

Jordan Staal took a pass from Matt Cooke, and with Tuukka Rask’s attention on Staal, the former second overall pick sent a pass to Chris Kunitz in front of the net. The puck went off Kunitz’ skate and into the net, with a review of the play showing there wasn’t a kicking motion and that Kunitz had fanned on a shot.

The Penguins’ goal came shortly after Cooke got out of the box for an interference call. Cooke was sent off after barreling into a puck-less Adam McQuaid in front of the B’s net.

Gregory Campbell and Craig Adams provided the fisticuffs for the period, dropping the gloves at 15:10. Once Campbell got his right hand free, the B’s center landed several rights in succession.

The teams each have 12 shots on goal.

Read More: Gregory Campbell, Tuukka Rask,
Tuukka Rask to start for vs. Penguins; Milan Lucic, Andrew Ference out at 12:10 pm ET
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Bruins coach Claude Julien told reporters prior to Saturday’s game against the Penguins that Tuukka Rask will start for the B’s. Rask’s last start came against the Penguins, as he earned a win in the Bruins’ 4-2 come-from-behind victory in Pittsburgh on Monday.

Milan Lucic will miss his third straight game with an undisclosed injury, while Andrew Ference will miss his first game of the season due to an upper-body injury. Ference, who played in the team’s first 43 games, left Thursday’s 7-5 victory over Philadelphia after the second period. Rookie Matt Bartkowski, who was called up from Providence on an emergency basis Friday, is expected to play in his place.

Bartkowski made his NHL debut on Monday in Pittsburgh, posting a minus-1 in 9:53 of ice time. He was filling in for Adam McQuaid and was returned to Providence the following day.

Read More: Andrew Ference, Matt Bartkowski, Milan Lucic, Tuukka Rask
Tim Thomas honored to be an All-Star, willing to shut down Zdeno Chara if opportunity arises 01.11.11 at 5:21 pm ET
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The Bruins received perhaps the least surprising news they could get on Tuesday when they were informed that Tim Thomas was named an All-Star. Thomas is putting together the best year of any goaltender over the last five years, and as such, it is no shock that he’s earned the honor of joining the league’s best for the third time in his career.

“It’s always an honor,” Thomas said of the distinction prior to the B’s game against the Senators on Tuesday. “It’s a feather in your cap, so I’m very happy.”

Thomas has played in 29 of the Bruins’ first 41 games, compiling an 18-4-6 record and leading the league with a 1.84 goals against average and a .944 save percentage. His five shutouts tie his career-high and put him in a tie for the league lead.

Yet given all the time he’s played, it is expected that the Bruins could use Tuukka Rask a bit more just to keep Thomas from being overworked. The same line of thinking might apply when wondering whether the 36-year-old could use the All-Star to get some rest rather than work more. Thomas’ reaction to that idea is simle.

“Everybody wants down time, but having said that, for most people — myself included — you don’t make the All-Star [game] that often,” Thomas said. “It’s an honor worth giving up a couple of days rest for.”

Thomas will join teammates Zdeno Chara and Tyler Seguin in Raleigh, N.C., for the All-Star festivities, as Chara also earned the distinction, while Seguin will participate in the rookie skills competition a day prior to the game.

Because of the new fantasy draft used to determine the All-Star teams, Thomas and Chara won’t necessarily be teammates in the game, as it is no longer a contest of the Eastern conference vs. the Western conference. As odd it would be to see Chara go up against his own goaltender, Thomas was quick in predicting what would happen in such a scenario.

“I win, he loses.”

Read More: All Star Game, Tim Thomas, Tuukka Rask, Tyler Seguin
Bruins, Penguins scoreless after one 01.10.11 at 8:16 pm ET
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The Bruins and Penguins skated to a scoreless first period on Monday night, with the B’s getting only six shots on Penguins netminder Marc-Andre Fleury. The Penguins have managed to get 14 shots on Tuukka Rask.

After an 0-for-2 showing on the man advantage, the Bruins have now gone 16 periods without a power play goal. Their last power play goal came on Dec. 28 against the Lightning.

Marc Savard was the only Bruin sent to the box in the period, as he went off at 18:41 for slashing Evgeni Malkin. The Penguins will begin the second period a man up.

Matt Bartkowski, making his NHL debut against the team he grew up cheering for in Pittsburgh, is on a pairing with Andrew Ference. He got 4:09 of ice time.

Tyler Seguin led the Bruins with two shots on goal in the period.

Read More: Marc Savard, Tuukka Rask, Tyler Seguin,
Bruins and Canadiens square off with first place on the line 01.08.11 at 8:52 am ET
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First place in the Northeast division is on the line as the Bruins (21-12-6) take on the Canadiens (22-16-3) at the Bell Centre on Saturday night. The Habs have taken both of the contests between the rival teams thus far this season, with Tuukka Rask and Tim Thomas taking losses on Nov. 11 and Dec. 16, respectively.

The Bruins are coming off a 3-1 loss to the Wild at the Garden on Thursday. It was their first regulation loss since being blanked by the Ducks on Dec. 20.

WHERE IT’S AT

– The Canadiens are 13-5-3 at the Bell Centre, and their 29 home points are second only to the Capitals’ 33 in the Eastern conference. Following their Dec. 16 4-3 win over the B’s, they spent seven games on the road and have returned to Montreal with an overtime loss to the Thrashers on Sunday and a shootout win over the Penguins on Thursday.

– While this game features one of the league’s best home teams, it also features one of the best road teams in the Bruins. The B’s 12-5-3 road mark is among the best in the conference, as only the Flyers and Rangers have more points (29 apiece) on the road this season.

NOTABLE NUMBERS

– New Habs defenseman James Wisniewski has five points — two goals and three assists — in four games since joining the Canadiens. He was a minus-18 with the Islanders this season, but playing for a winning team has changed that a bit. Wisniewski hasn’t posted a negative rating in any of his games with Montreal since being acquired from New York for second and fifth-round picks.

– Who would have thought that Steven Kampfer would be the hottest Bruins scorer over the last five games? The rookie defenseman has scored the first three goals of his career over the span, including a second-period tally against the Wild in which he sent a rebound from a Patrice Bergeron shot past Jose Theodore.

STORYLINES GOING IN

– There’s no bigger story than what this game means in the standings. The B’s have been in first place since beating the Panthers back on Dec. 27. Since then, they have opened a three-point lead in the Northeast and seen it shrink to one point. The the Bruins have played have played multiple games less than most of the other teams in the Eastern conference, the fact that their division-leading 48 points is worse than those of six other teams in the conference should be eye-opening enough to illustrate how important winning the division is to being in a good spot when the playoffs roll around.

– Will Nathan Horton play? Claude Julien called the winger day-to-day after he left Friday’s practice early with what the coach would only describe as “discomfort.”

[UPDATE: Horton is not expected to play, as Julien told reporters Saturday that he is “very unlikely” to go.]

If Horton plays, it seems he will do so on a new line. Julien flip-flopped Horton and Michael Ryder, meaning Horton is with Blake Wheeler and David Krejci, while Ryder will play with Milan Lucic on a line centered by Marc Savard.

– Though he has battled his way in and out of the lineup as a healthy scratch this season, Habs rookie defenseman P.K. Subban has been a pain in the Bruins’ you-know-what. The 21-year-old Toronto native scored his first career goal back on Nov. 11 at the Garden and most recently laid a crushing hit on Brad Marchand that led to the winger leaving the following game vs. Washington and then missing the next three.

(You can brush up on your French with the feed.)

– This is a bear of a stretch for the B’s, as their four games following Saturday includes two games against the Penguins and one against the Flyers. It’s one their schedule’s toughest stretches of the season (they’ve got another one coming up in February that includes games against the Stars, Sharks, Habs, and Red Wings) and a good test of how far this team has come since snapping out of its mid-December funk.

Read More: Brad Marchand, James Wisniewski, Michael Ryder, Nathan Horton
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