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First period summary: Bruins vs. Maple Leafs 04.03.10 at 7:51 pm ET
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If there was ever a must-win game, Saturday at Air Canada Centre in Toronto is that kind of game for the Bruins.

The results will be twofold. Foremost, the Bruins are only a point ahead of the Thrashers and tied with Flyers for the final two playoff spots in the Eastern Conference. Secondly, if Boston wants to get a top two pick in the NHL Entry Draft this summer, they have to beat the team whose pick they own to keep them down in the standings.

So, you would think that the Bruins would be motivated and jump on the division rival Leafs early, right?

Not so much.

Toronto took the early lead at 5:10 into the game when Colton Orr, much more known for his bruising than goal scoring, pushed a rebound off a Dion Phaneuf shot pased Tuukka Rask to open the scoring.

Four minutes later the Leafs would have a big chance to make it a two-goal advantage when Michael Ryder went to the penalty box for hooking at 9:15. He was followed there 23-seconds later by Dennis Seidenberg who took a boarding call to set up 1:37 of two-man advantage ice time for Toronto.

The Bruins registered the kill and came back down the ice to put pressure on Leafs’ goaltender Jonas Gustavsson but a shot hit the cross bar and bounced back out of the crease to end the threat.

During Seidenberg’s penalty he had to leave the box with a cut on his forearm that needed medical attention. Defenseman Mark Stuart is not with the team after getting sent back to Boston with cellulitis, a skin infection, in his hand. Andrew Bodnarchuk has been recalled from Providence on an emergency basis.

Toronto has been the better team through the first 20 minutes and lead the Bruins in shots by nine, 14 to five.

Read More: Colton Orr, Dennis Seidenberg, Jonas Gustavsson, Mark Stuart
Bruins fall flat in loss to Panthers 04.01.10 at 9:21 pm ET
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Summary — The Bruins had that familiar feeling on Thursday as they had trouble finishing chances against the Florida Panthers in a game they lost 1-0 at TD Garden. Tuukka Rask took the loss for Boston on the night with 19 saves while Scott Clemmensen got the shutout for the Panthers in turning away 36 Bruins shots and plethora of opportunities.

The Panthers got on the board in the first period when Keith Ballard pinched the slot with space in front of Rask and went underneath the goaltender’s pads to give Florida a 1-0 lead at 7:15 in the first period. The goal ended a 121:42 shutout streak by Rask over parts of four games.

Boston knocked on the door repeatedly in the second period with 17 shots and two power play opportunities but the Bruins could not beat Clemmensen as every puck that came close was turned away, inches wide or above the net and the game entered the third period with the Panthers still up by the lone goal. Both Milan Lucic and Mark Recchi thought at one point they had scored goals only to see the end result of the puck on the wrong side of the net.

One of Boston’s best chances to score was on a short-handed opportunity in the third period when Blake Wheeler found himself on a 2-on-1 break with David Krejci following him on the right wing. Wheeler ended up waiting too long to make the decision to shoot or pass and put and ineffective tip on the edge of the crease at 4:40.

Rask received the Bruins Seventh Player Award before the game as the player who “went above and beyond the call of duty and exceeded the expectations of Bruins fans during the season.”

Three Stars

Keith Ballard — The defenseman’s first period goal was the only scoring in the game. He also blocked a least a half dozen shots to help his goaltender keep the puck out of the net.

Scott Clemmensen — The former Boston College Eagle was good enough in net to keep the Bruins off the board and out of the win column with (#) saves.

Tuukka Rask — Even in a losing effort the Bruins net minder was solid in turning away the Panthers chances and keeping Boston in the game.

Turning Point — At 15:40 in the second penalty on a delayed penalty the Bruins Mark Recchi thought he had beat Clemmensen with a redirection. He went so far as to raise his hands and stick thinking that it went in but turned out to go wide right. Later in the period on the power play Milan Lucic did almost the same thing as he deflected a puck that went over the net, causing Clemmensen’s water bottle to stir in the process. Lucic raised his hands just as Recchi had but again the puck did not go into the net (though the officials did review Lucic’s tip).

Key Play – Keith Ballard pinched the slot in the first period after a Bruins flurry on the other end of the ice and caught the defense sleeping while the Boston forwards were not being aggressive on the back check. Given a few seconds right in front of a goaltender, most NHL players will take advantage of the situation and Ballard was no exception as he used Rask’s pads against him as he went up and underneath them for the first (and only) goal of the game.

Read More: Keith Ballard, Mark Recchi, Milan Lucic, Scott Clemmensen
First period summary: Bruins vs. Panthers at 7:47 pm ET
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Another Thursday night and another inexplicably flat first period against a non-playoff bound team from Florida.

This time, it was the Florida Panthers who grabbed the 1-0 lead after 20 minutes thanks to a shaky goal off the stick of defenseman Keith Ballard at 7:15 of the first period.

Ballard pinched up the slot and didn’t appear to get all of the puck but enough that it changed directions on Tuukka Rask and fluttered by as Patrice Bergeron was standing by helplessly watching it go in.

The goal ended Rask’s impressive shutout streak at 121 minutes, 42 seconds. Before the game, Rask was honored with the ‘Seventh Player Award’ for the Bruins player who ‘goes above and beyond’ the expectations of fans.

The only highlight for the Bruins came when Johnny Boychuk laid out Victor Oreskovich along the left corner boards just moments after the Panthers’ goal.

The Bruins held a 10-8 shots advantage in the first.

Read More: Bruins, NHL, Panthers, Tuukka Rask
Hat trick: Statement made? 03.30.10 at 11:05 pm ET
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It’s all right, Bruins fans. You can say that you thought Tuukka Rask would have bested Martin Brodeur in the shootout had another 19 seconds passed.

Goaltending ‘€” and a relentlessly irritating Bruins offense ‘€” took center stage Tuesday night as Patrice Bergeron notched the game-winner in the final minute of overtime to give the Bruins a 1-0 win over New Jersey. The way Brodeur was giving up rebounds and the way the Bruins seemed to just miss capitalizing on them time and time again, it was perfectly fitting that the game ended in the Bruins’ assistant captain collecting the change on a Mark Stuart shot from the point to give Boston a very important two points.

While the Bruins only got on the board once, their peppering of Brodeur (34 shots on goal) provided all the offense necessary to get past one of the game’s all-time greats.

Coming off the win, the Bruins remain in possession of the eighth and final playoff bid in the Eastern Conference. With a game in hand on the Thrashers, a playoff berth is the Bruins’ to lose. Just as interestingly, having played as many games with as many points (76 GP, 82 points), as the Canadiens and Flyers, a sixth seed and potential matchup with the Sabers rather than the Capitals remains in their grasp.

Here is the hat trick of lessons learned in a well-deserved win in which the Bruins defense allowed just 21 shots on goal in nearly 65 minutes:

Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: ilya kovalchuk, Martin Brodeur, Patrice Bergeron, Tim Thomas
Bruins cannot hold off Sabres stampede 03.29.10 at 9:27 pm ET
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Summary — The Bruins could not hold back the Sabres’ stampede in a 3-2 loss Monday night at TD Garden. Ryan Miller got the win for Buffalo with 40 saves while Tim Thomas took the loss by allowing three goals on 13 shots before getting pulled for Tuukka Rask in the second period.

The Bruins had a chance early in the first period when Marco Sturm took a pass from Patrice Bergeron through the neutral zone with a step on Craig Rivet for a breakaway. Rivet hooked Sturm, and the three of them went crashing into the net, with Sturm being awarded a penalty shot. But Miller stuffed Sturm at 3:20 to shut down a key opportunity.

David Krejci continued his great play of late as he extended his point streak to four games when he schooled Miller at 7:43 in the first. Krejci found himself with space in front of the net and circled Miller to almost the goal line before putting the puck off the goaltender’s skate for the first goal of the game.

The Sabres came back with two unanswered strikes in the period, both of which deflected off some part of Bruins defenseman Dennis Wideman on the way past Thomas. The first came on a shot from the point by Tyler Myers that went through Wideman’s arms for the redirection at 9:56 to tie the game. The Sabres then went up a goal a few minutes later when Paul Gaustad picked up a rebound n the slot and backhanded it towards the net, sending it off Wideman’s skate in the process to make it 2-1.

Buffalo made it a two-goal game at 6:40 in the second when Tim Kennedy took a shot from the corner of the crease that hit Thomas in the chest but rebounded into the crease where it slipped across the goal line. That was the night for Thomas, as coach Claude Julien sent in Rask for the reigning Vezina Trophy winner.

Boston made it a one-goal game at 14:23 in the third period when Dennis Seidenberg pulled up on the rush and rocketed a slap shot from the point on Miller that the goaltender could not contain as it popped off his pads, over his shoulder and into the goal.

Three Stars

Ryan Miller — The starting goaltender for the USA Olympic team bested his backup by a fair margin in making 40 stops en route to his 38th win of the year.

Tyler Myers — The defenseman scored the Sabres’ first goal of the game and assisted on the second.

David Krejci — The Bruins center continued his hot play by scoring the first goal of the game and has a four-game point streak with three goals and four assists for seven points in that span.

Turning Point — One time could be a fluke but twice makes a trend, one that the Bruins would have been happy to avoid. The second goal that went off Wideman past Thomas came off of Gaustad’s backhander at 9:56 in the first. The ire of the fans will go to Wideman but the goal was set up after a shot from Myers that Thomas let slip into the slot, where the Sabres center was waiting.

Key Play — The weak goal was what did Thomas in. Kennedy had a point-blank opportunity on Thomas but did not have the angle to beat the goaltender. Thomas, however, ended up beating himself as he bobbled the rebound and let it slip behind him into the net. That giveaway brought Rask from the bench to the crease to take over the net-minding responsibilities.

Read More: Dennis Seidenberg, Dennis Wideman, Paul Gaustad, Ryan Miller
Second period summary: Bruins vs. Sabres at 8:42 pm ET
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One game after recording his fifth shutout of the season and his 17th career, Tim Thomas was pulled after allowing his third goal on just 14 shots. It was the sixth time this season he has been lifted from a game.

The off night for Thomas has put the Bruins in a 3-1 hole after two periods.

Thomas allowed a soft wrister from Tim Kennedy at 6:08 and he came off the ice, made his way down the tunnel, swinging his goalie stick in frustration. He remained away from the bench for about five minutes before returning.

In fairness to Thomas, he was again let down by his defense who had trouble clearing bodies. Tuukka Rask was tested late in the period as breakdowns continued to thwart the B’s.

Jason Pominville had a short-handed breakaway with just 63 seconds left in the second period as the Bruins, desperate for some energy from their power play, pinched early and left Pominville alone in the neutral zone.

Boos rained down on the Bruins, who will begin the final period with 13 seconds of power play.

Each team had 14 shots on net in the second, with Boston holding a 28-25 advantage after 40 minutes.

Read More: Bruins, NHL, Ryan Miller, Sabres
Bruins trash Thrashers, look towards spring hockey 03.23.10 at 9:28 pm ET
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Summary — In what was essentially a playoff game the Bruins trounced the Thrashers 4-0 at Phillips Arena in Atlanta. The Thrashers started the night one point behind the Bruins and could have jumped them for the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference with a regulation time win but Tuukka Rask came up big to blank Atlanta with 27 saves. Johan Hedberg could not do his team the same favor as he allowed four goals on 33 shots in the loss.

The Bruins struck first. Michael Ryder took a wrist shot from right in front of Hedberg that the goaltender could not corral and the bouncing puck made its way through the crease to where David Krejci could sneak in from the back side to tap it on through into the net at 9:25 in the first period.

Boston would add to the lead in the second when Milan Lucic tallied his eighth of the season. Lucic took a pass from David Krejci off the wing in the middle slot and let out a wrist shot that beat Hedberg glove side high to give the Bruins a 2-0 lead.

With time expiring in the second period the Thrashers were caught with one skate heading towards the locker room when Patrice Bergeron won a face off after an Atlanta icing and sent the puck back to Zdeno Chara who hit a one-time slap shot on goal that was tipped by Miroslav Satan to give the Bruins a three goal lead that they would not relinquish.

Steve Begin got in on the scoring party in the third period when Milan Lucic took a long shot from the blue line off a face off that Hedberg could not control leading to a wide open net on his stick side that Begin was able to blast the puck into for the Bruins fourth unanswered score. It was Begin’s first goal in 28 games and fourth of the season.

Three Stars –

David Krejci — Scored the opening goal of the game for this 15th of the season and set up Lucic for the second, separating goal with a pass off the end boards that ended up on Lucic’s stick.

Tuukka Rask — The Bruins emerging goaltender won his 18th of the year in a game where he was never seriously challenged to put the Thrashers away.

Milan Lucic — The hulking forward has been taking big strides in recent games as he returns to pre-injury form. He scored the second goal of the game and assisted on the fourth.

Turning Point —  Satan’s goal at the very end of the second period was a psyche breaker for a Thrashers team that had billed this game as the “biggest in franchise history.” It was the type of goal that coaches cannot stand as it was a quick face off turn slap shot turn goal with mere seconds left in the period.

Key Play — Lucic was expected to make big strides in his third year with the Bruins but has been hampered by injuries and inconsistency throughout the year as he has dealt with a bum ankle. His second period goal gave the Bruins separation from the Thrashers and proved that Lucic is finally rounding back into form as he has played two very solid games in a row for Boston.

Read More: David Krejci, Johan Hedberg, Milan Lucic, Miroslav Satan
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