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Bruins gain separation in playoff race by besting Rangers 03.21.10 at 2:08 pm ET
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Summary — In a battle that will go a long way in determining the bottom of the Eastern Conference’s playoff standings, the Bruins prevailed over the Rangers (2-0) in front of a sold out crowd at TD Garden on Sunday afternoon. Tuukka Rask got his 17th win for Boston by making 22 saves while Henrik Lundqvist was the loser for New York with 29 stops. The win puts Boston five points ahead of the Rangers for the eighth  and final playoff spot in the conference with 11 games (10 for the Rangers) to go in the regular season.

The teams played a contentious, though scoreless, majority of the first two periods. The first forty minutes of the game saw a combined 14 penalties for 36 minutes (eight for 21 for Boston, six for 15 by New York) as the teams that are jostling for the final spot in the Eastern Conference took their bumping and pushing to the ice. Bruins captain Zdeno Chara had eight penalty minutes, including a four-minute double minor for high-sticking in the second period.

Olli Jokinen, who took three penalties himself in the first two periods, nearly handed the Bruins a goal (or saved the Rangers, depending on your perspective) when he spun/tackled Boston forward Daniel Paille on a break at 16:13 in the second. Paille was awarded a penalty shot  and skated straight down on Lundqvist only to see his wrist shot from the slot turned away harmlessly by the goaltenders left pad.

Miroslav Satan broke 104:09 of scoreless ice time for the Bruins at 16:36 of the second period when he one-timed a through the crease from Andrew Ference. The defenseman skated down the left wing and centered the puck quickly enough to get it on Satan’s stick before Lundqvist could make the cross and Satan put it top shelf from one knee for the 1-0 lead.

Dennis Wideman made it a two-goal lead in the third period when he took a feed from Vladimir Sobotka and spun a nifty backhand wrist shot from the slot up over Lundqvist’s glove side at 10:20.

The Rangers cut the lead in half at 16:56 when defenseman Michael Del Zotta powered a slap shot from the point past Rask through traffic. The Bruins would hold on in the final three minutes for the win.

Three Stars

Miroslav Satan — The tall Slovak gave the Bruins the lead in the second period with his fifth goal as a Bruin.

Tuukka Rask — The most important penalty killer on the ice is often the goaltender and Rask was good behind his stout defense in holding the Rangers 0-6 on the man-advantage.

Dennis Wideman — The prettiest play of the day was Wideman’s backhand winner from the slot. It was kind of a spinning backhand wrist shot that he elevated off a pass from Vladimir Sobotka. The puck went high over Lundqvist’s glove for the two-goal advantage midway through the third period. It was Wideman’s fourth goal of the season with his last coming against the Rangers on Jan. 9, a span of 25 games.

Turning Point — With the game still scoreless in the second period the Rangers were given a great opportunity to take the lead when the Bruins captain, Zdeno Chara, took a double minor, high-sticking penalty at 8:30. With Boston’s top defender off the ice for an extended period of time it would have been the best time for New York to strike. The Bruins, who have the No. 1 penalty kill in the league, did not allow the Rangers to have a shot in the stretch and would not have a better power play opportunity for the rest of the game.

Key Play — Rask came up big in the early part of the third with a little help from Paille. Brandon Dubinsky looked like he had time and space to make an arcing cross in front of the Bruins netminder before Paille got in between the Rangers’ center and the puck to thwart a shot attempt. Dubinsky recovered and got the puck to Dan Girardi at the face off circle for a one-time chance point blank on Rask. The Boston goaltender left the crease to aggressively challenge the shot and caught it on the spoked-B of his sweater to retire the chance.

Read More: Daniel Paille, Dennis Wideman, Henrik Lundqvist, Miroslav Satan
Second period summary: Bruins-Rangers at 1:17 pm ET
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If there is one thing that the Bruins are good at, it is the penalty kill.

Boston’s captain, Zdeno Chara, is not doing his team any favors on Sunday afternoon. He has gone to the box three times through the first two periods with the most recent violation at four-minute high-sticking violation at 8:30 in the period.

The No. 1  penalty kill in the NHL took care of business though, and then some. The Rangers, who are almost as ineffective in the goal scoring department as the Bruins (23rd in league at 2.58), could not manage to register and official shot on Tuukka Rask.

The Bruins were given a chance at 16:13 when Artem Anisimov spun/tackled Daniel Paille on a breakaway at 16:13. Paille was awarded a rare  regular-time penalty shot and skated in on Henrik Lundqvist before taking s wrist shot from the slot that the Rangers’ goalie turned away with is left pad.

Boston was able to get on the board less than a minute later when Andrew Ference skated down the right wing and cross the puck across the crease to the waiting one-timing stick of Miroslav Satan camped on the other side of Lundqvist. Satan went high from one knee and the Bruins had their first goal (and lead) in 104:09 of ice time (last goal at the 12:27 mark in the third period Tuesday against Carolina).

In the final minute of the period Satan took an interference penalty when he hit former Boston University star Chris Drury coming out of the defensive zone at 19:33. Olli Jokinen gave the majority of the power play back with a roughing penalty after Steve Begin knock Vinny Prospal on his backside with seconds remaining in the period. Jokinen went to the box for roughing with 00.1 left on the clock and the teams will start the third on a 4-on-4.

End of second period: Boston 1 New York 0

Shots through second (total):

Bruins — 7 (19)

Rangers — 6 (15)

Read More: Add new tag, Daniel Paiile, Henrik Lundqvist, Miroslav Satan
First period summary: Bruins-Rangers at 12:18 pm ET
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This is a big one.

In terms of playoff situations, this Sunday’s matinee may be the most important game the Bruins have played this year. The Rangers sit three points behind Boston for the eighth playoff spot and a win would put the Bruins five points ahead with 11 games to play. A New York win would make it a one point lead and make for some very interesting situations in the final two weeks of the regular season.

Boston started the game with some pop and emotion against a Rangers team that is known to be a bit of a physical nuisance. Brandon Prust and Steve Begin got into a scuffle near mid-ice at at 2:40, which was more instigated by Prust than Begin as the Bruins had outshot New York 6-0 at that point.

Zdeno Chara went for a roughing penalty at 4:34 as perpetual instigator Sean Avery was in the area and engaged in a staring match with Vladimir Sobotka who had dropped his stick but Avery deigned to drop his gloves. Less than a minute later the Rangers’ Vinny Prospal hit Mark Stuart hard into the boards behind Tuukka Rask. The Bruins did not like the hit (which sent Prospal for boarding) and a scrum ensued which ultimately sent Stuart to the box as well for roughing.

The referees whistle was busy after that. Mark Recchi (charging — 12:05), Chara (roughing — 12:43), Olli Jokinen (roughing — 12:43), Dennis Wideman (hooking — 13:54) and Artem Anisimov (hooking — 15:29), Jokinen again (hooking — 18:07) all made the march to the timeout corner. Though it all a few scoring chances were generated by each team but neither significant threats and whatever danger that occured near the crease was erased by the two solid goaltenders in Rask and Henrik Lundqvist.

Scoreless after the first period at TD Garden.

Shots through one:

Boston — 12

New York — 9

Read More: Henrik Lundqvist, Mark Stuart, Olli Jokinen, Steve Avery
Bruins blanked by Penguins 03.18.10 at 8:33 pm ET
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Summary – In one of the most anticipated games of the season, the Bruins got their revenge but ended up losing the contest as the Penguins beat Boston 3-0 at TD Garden on Thursday. Tuukka Rask started and took the loss for the Bruins with 28 saves while Pittsburgh’s Marc-Andre Fleury picked up his 33rd win of the year by stopping 17 pucks.

Boston got the dramatic bits out of the way early when Shawn Thornton threw down the gloves against Matt Cooke on Cooke’s first shift of the game at 1:58 in the first period. The retribution by Thornton was the Bruins initial response for Cooke’s hit on Marc Savard on March 7 that left the center with a Grade 2 concussion. Savard will miss the rest of the year.

After that, it was time to play hockey.

Tyler Kennedy got the Penguins on the board first when he took the puck on the rush down the right wing and beat Rask high for the early goal advantage. It was Kennedy’s 10th goal of the year with the helpers coming from Ruslan Fedotenko and Brooks Orpik at 8:34.

Boston took three penalties in the second period and were able to kill them all but the momentum shifted in the direction of the Penguins who outshot the Bruins 15-5 in the frame. Pittsburgh broke through with an even-strength goal by Alexei Ponikarovsky with 14.1 seconds left to take a two-goal advantage into the third period.

Pittsburgh made it 3-0 when Michael Rupp beat Rask far side at 5:14 in the third to put the Bruins away for good.

Three Stars

Marc-Andre Fleury — The Penguins goaltender did not need to stop many pucks against the Bruins, but he ended up stopping enough to his his 33rd victory of the year.

Alexei Ponikarovsky — Pittsburgh acquired the scoring forward at the trade deadline and he scored the separation goal for the Penguins with his 21st in the second period.

Michael Rupp — The center got in a fight with Zdeno Chara and scored the Penguins third goal of the game in the third period to seal the Bruins fate.

Turning Point — The ways things go for the Bruins offense, the first goal that Rask allowed was the one that broke their back. The emotion of Thornton’s fight against Cooke had worn off and when regular hockey activities commenced Boston found itself outmatched. Kennedy got the strike with a rush down the right wing that was fed by Fedotenko. Rask could not follow the quick shot that Kennedy let go and the Penguins had the lead and never looked back.

Key Play — It may not have been the key play to the game, but Thornton tracking down Cooke for the retribution fight on Cooke’s first shift of the game was essential for Boston’s reputation with its fans and within the NHL. Cooke jumped the boards for his shift at 1:56 in the first period and Thornton had his glove off and ready for the fisticuffs by 1:58, showing that he was going to waste no time in getting the matter over with. Cooke got the first few punches in on Thornton but the Bruins enforcer scored the next couple of hits and pulled Cooke’s sweater over his head that brought the forward to his knees. Thornton took the fighting major as well as a 10-minute misconduct.

Read More: Marc-Andre Fleury, Matt Cooke, Shawn Thornton, Tuukka Rask
Second period summary: Bruins-Penguins at 7:47 pm ET
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The second period started with the Bruins holding on by a thread.

Vladimir Sobotka went to the penalty box at 2:22 for a hooking penalty. Out came one of the best penalty killing tandems in the league in the form of Daniel Paille and Steve Begin along with defensemen Zdeno Chara and Dennis Seidenberg. Normally a team will role out two penalty killing units on a power play with the first unit the best killers and the second unit efficient killers who can create an odd-man break when given the opportunity.

Boston never got the second unit on the ice.

It was more like Pittsburgh never let them off the ice. The full two minutes was spent in Boston’s defensive zone as the Penguins rained shots on Tuukka Rask. The young goaltender was up to it and proved to be the best penalty killer the Bruins had on the shift even as Pittsburgh dumped 10 shots on net (to the Bruins zero) in the first five minutes of the period.

Boston got its third chance on the power play at 7:37 when Sergei Gonchar took at tripping call. Once again the Bruins mustered next to nothing.

The second fight of the night broke out at 11:53 when captain Zdeno Chara went toe-to-toe with center Michael Rupp right after a face off. Chara got the best of Rupp in the captain’s first official fight of the season.

Seven-seconds after Chara went to the box, fellow defenseman Mark Stuart joined him with a hooking penalty at 12:00. That left the Bruins without two of their top three defensemen for an extended period of time. Once again, Rask stepped up and killed the penalty for the Boston.

The third time was the charm though. Pittsburgh got another shot on the power play at 17:44 when Steve Begin went for “kneeing” (a trip, more or less). Pittsburgh went through the normal routine — set up camp in the Boston zone, cycle, shoot, rebound, cycle, shoot. Right after the penalty ended the puck ended up on the stick of Kris Letang at the top of the left circle. He shot and it was deflected five-hole through Rask by Alexei Ponikarovsky for the two-goal lead.

Shots through second (total):

Bruins — 5 (10)

Penguins 15 (20)

Read More: Alexei Ponikarovsky, Mark Stuart, Michael Rupp, Tuukka Rask
First period summary: Bruins-Penguins at 6:54 pm ET
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It took all of two seconds.

That would be the amount of time that Matt Cooke was on the ice before Bruins forward Shawn Thornton tracked him down and signaled for a fight. Cooke jumped the boards for his first shift at 1:56 and skated to across the ice towards his defensive zone corner. Thorton came straight at him and let him know that he was on his way and they dropped gloves and circled each other. Cooke got the first couple of punches before Thornton went in with as much vigor as has been seen from him this year, registering a couple hits to the head and then pulling his sweater over his head. When the referees pulled the enforcer off of Cooke he was still visibly upset and was restrained as Cooke made his way to the box for the five-minute fighting major. Thornton received the five-minute fighting major and a 10-minute misconduct for instigating the fight.

Then there was hockey to be played and when it comes to that, the Penguins tend to fare better than the Bruins this season.

Pittsburgh scored the first goal of the game at 8:34 when Tyler Kennedy beat Tuukka Rask on a wrist shot on a rush down the right wing. It was Kennedy’s 10th of the year and the Penguins had the early lead.

Like the last time the teams played (March 7 in Pittsburgh), Boston had a couple of power play opportunities to get on the board in the first period. The first came at 5:36 when the Penguins were called for too many men on the ice, served by Kennedy. The second came, much to the delight of the TD Garden crowd, against Cooke at 12:52 when he side-swiped defenseman Dennis Seidenberg on the end boards behind Rask for a tripping penalty.

Just like March 7, Boston could do nothing with the man-advantage.

Outside of Thornton’s retribution and Kennedy’s goal, the play was even through much of the period but the Penguins will begin the second with a goal advantage.

Shots through first:

Boston – 5

Pittsburgh — 5

Read More: Matt Cooke, Shawn Thornton, Tuukka Rask, Tyler Kennedy
Bruins cannot finish comeback against Habs 03.13.10 at 9:46 pm ET
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Summary — Two longtime Original Six rivals faced off for the last time during the regular season on Saturday as the Bruins and Canadiens went for a tilt at the Bell Centre in Montreal. With two points separating the teams for the final two playoffs spots in the Eastern Conference heading into the game the contest was an important one for both teams and (team) was able to prevail 3-2. Tuukka Rask got the start for Boston and made 24 saves in the loss. He was opposed by Jaroslav Halak who was sturdy in stopping 21 pucks in the winning effort.

The Habs jumped on top of the Bruins in the first period. The first goal came courtesy of the power play (Mark Stuart holding 5:02) when Andrei Markov let go of a wrist shot from the blue that had eyes through traffic in front of Rask and deflected off of defenseman Dennis Seidenberg for the opening score.

The Canadiens would strike again within the last minute of the period right after killing a penalty when Sergei Kostitsyn wrapped a backhand around the net to beat Rask at 19:40 for the two-goal advantage heading into the second period.

Boston cut the lead in half at 1:12 of the second period. Michael Ryder took a pass from David Krejci and rushed down the left wing on a break and sent a backhand centering pass to Blake Wheeler rushing down the middle lane. Wheeler just need to tap it through Halak to make it 2-1.

Kostisyn struck again early in the third when he took a puck that had an odd bounce off the back boards that came back onto his stick to catch Rask way out of position and leave an empty crease for the easy goal and a two-score advantage.

Boston would not go quietly. Milan Lucic made it a one-goal game at 11:46 in the third when he stick-handled on the half wall and into the slot to send a wrist shot on Halak that fell through the goaltenders pads and into the net to make it 3-2.

Three Stars

Sergei Kostitsyn — The perpetually pesky Montreal forward scored the Habs’ second and third goals of the game to put the Bruins away.

Andrei Markov — The Canadiens’ defenseman scored the first goal of the game and assisted on the second to propel Montreal’s early game attack.

Blake Wheeler — The sophomore forward scored his 16th of the year and second in two games with his second period strike.

Turning Point — The pivotal separation goal came at 1:41 in the third period when Kostitsyn threw the puck off the backboards and was the lucky recipient of an odd bounce that put the puck back on his stick while crashing the net without breaking his stride. Rask was caught on the edge of the crease following the puck which left Kostitsyn and empty net. With Lucic’s goal later in the third the strike proved to be the game winner.

Key Play — As the Bruins tried to come back in the last five minute of the game Halak stuffed a point-blank shot from Marco Sturm that would have been the equalizer. Boston would not seriously threaten the Canadiens lead again.

Read More: Andrei Markov, Blake Wheeler, Jaroslav Halak, Milan Lucic
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