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Bruins look to cool Lightning 02.11.10 at 11:14 am ET
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The Bruins know the recipe that will take to climb back into solid playoff contention — goal scorers doing their job, streaky shooting and a hot goaltender to carry the load. It is an easy formula that can propel a team on long streaks that eventually lead to extended spring hockey.

For an example, the Bruins only need to look across to the other bench on Thursday to the Lightning. Tampa Bay has won four in a row and is 10-1-2 in its last 13 games to pull itself out of the Eastern Conference basement to be tied for the seventh and eighth playoff spots with Philadelphia. With 63 points the Lightning stand two ahead of the ninth-place Bruins.

Antero Niittymaki is on fire. The Tampa goaltender is 7-0-1 in his last eight games with a 1.09 goals against average and a .965 save percentage. Thought Tuukka Rask was playing well for the Bruins? Rask is 2-0-2 on his current point streak and and his 2.01 goals against for the season is second in the NHL but Niittymaki has been the best goaltender in the NHL over the last month.

On the offensive end, the Lightning have been putting up some points behind Steve Stamkos and Martin St. Louis. The duo has propelled Tampa over the last nine games, scoring 16 of its last 22 goals. Stamkos in particular looks impressive. The first overall pick in the 2008 draft already has 33 goals through 58 games this year and another 30 assists on top of that. For a second year player to be able to put up those kind of numbers makes scouts heads turn and gives the denizens of the Tampa area dreams of a superstar in the St. Petersburg Times Forum for years to come. Stamkos has five goals in his last five games.

St. Louis, the wily veteran southpaw forward, also has five goals in the last five games and has 20 goals and 46 assists for the season. His six game-winning goals are good for fifth in the NHL.

Look for Bruins captain Zdeno Chara to be near every time that Stamkos touches a skate to the ice at the Forum on Thursday. Yet, the fun does not stop there. The Lightning are deep with threats on their first two lines with Vincent LeCavalier, Ryan Malone and Alex Tanguay all in the mix. LeCavalier is third on the team in points with 55 (15 goals, 40 assists) and Malone has 21 goals to trail only Stamkos in that department. For a comparison, the lowly Bruins offense has no player with more than 36 points (Patrice Bergeron) or 18 goals (Marco Sturm).

If the Bruins want to really get back into the mess that is the Eastern Conference playoff race, they will have to win games against the teams ahead of them and right now that means cooling down the Lightning. If Boston can claim a regulation two-point victory (something it has only done twice since Jan. 5) it will create a three-way tie for the final spot in the conference and set the Bruins up to rise above the demarcation line if they can claim points against the Panthers on Saturday.

Read More: Antero Niittymaki, Martin St. Louis, Steve Stamkos, Tampa Bay Lightning
Bruins win second in a row in shootout 02.09.10 at 10:08 pm ET
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Summary ‘€” Daniel Paille scored two first period goals for the Bruins at Buffalo on Tuesday at HSBC Arena, but the Sabres came back with two second-period goals to tie the game before Boston won the game 3-2 on a David Krejci score in a sudden-death shootout. Ryan Miller took the loss with 32 saves, while Tuukka Rask was the winner for Boston with 43 saves. It was Rask’s fourth straight start for the Bruins, and he has been able to get a point for Boston in all four with a 2-0-2 record.

Paille netted the first of the game at 4:51 when he scored on a wraparound against Miller to give the Bruins the early lead. Paille would strike again at 11:58 in the period when he crossed the crease in front of Miller to tip a slap shot from Zdeno Chara at the point for the two-goal advantage.

The lead would not last, as the Sabres came out strong in the second period and turn a lot of pucks over in the neutral zone. The first goal in the comeback came courtesy of Buffalo center Derek Roy with a wrist shot that beat Rask at 4:35 in the second on a 5-on-3 power play. Dynamic Sabres rookie defenseman Tyler Myers would tie it at 18:35 with a wrist shot from the blue line that surprised Rask just enough to beat him on the glove side.

Three Stars

Daniel Paillle ‘€” Acquired on Oct. 20 in the first ever trade between the Bruins and Sabres, the speedy forward came back to haunt his former team with two first period goals to give him nine on the year for the Bruins.

Tuukka Rask — The Bruins goaltender had a career-high 43 saves and made three stops in the shootout to give the Bruins consecutive wins and points in their last four games.

David Krejci — Krejci had the game-deciding goal in the shootout as he crossed in front of Miller and buried the puck to give Boston the two-point victory.

Turning Point

The Sabres comeback came in the second period courtesy of the power play. Milan Lucic went for hooking penalty at 2:54 and was joined by Steve Begin for a hook at 3:46 to set up 1:08 of 5-on-3 for Buffalo. Sabres coach Lindy Ruff took a timeout with his team down two goals to talk about the situation and was rewarded when Roy found time and space in front of Rask and put a wrist shot passed the young goaltender for Buffalo’s first goal of the game. The Sabres would play well from there on out to complete the comeback and gain a point.

Key Play

Miller came up big in overtime to stop the Bruins and send the game to the shootout. Early in the extra frame the Bruins had a great chance when Marco Sturm and Matt Hunwick had a 2-on-1 in front of Miller. Sturm crossed to Hunwick who let go of a one-timer that Miller crossed the crease to make a kick save off his pads and send the puck into the corner. Krejci had the game-deciding goal in the shootout that was tied at one after the first three rounds off of goals by Marco Sturm and Jason Pominville.

Read More: Daniel Paille, David Krejci, Ryan Miller, Tuukka Rask
Sabres claw back to tie it in second at 8:49 pm ET
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It was a wild first five minutes of the second period in Buffalo. The Sabres came out with more aggression than they showed in the first which was immediately evident when their captain, Craig Rivet, decided it was time to throw down with Bruins enforcer Shawn Thornton at 2:54. The fight started at the same time that a penalty whistle was blown to send Bruins forward Milan Lucic to the box for a hooking call. The Sabres were then given a golden chance to get back into the game when Steve Begin took a holding penalty 54-seconds later to give Buffalo 1:08 of 5-on-3 hockey at 3:46.

The Sabres would not need all of it to get on the board. At 4:35 Buffalo center Derek Roy found himself in the middle slot facing down Tuukka Rask with time and space. Roy let go a wily wrist shot that beat Rask glove side to cut the Bruins lead to 2-1.

Boston got its first chance on the power play when Paul Gaustad tried to throw down with Zdeno Chara at 9:52. The towering Bruins captain cannot fight though because he tore most of the ligaments in his pinky the first time the Bruins played in Buffalo on Nov. 20. The finger looks pretty ugly as it is bent at a 90-degree angle and Chara has to wear a split on it during practice and games. Per NHL rules, a player cannot fight with any outside material on his hands, hence Chara cannot fight for fear of a suspension or injuring the finger more seriously than it already is. Gaustad went to the box for a two-minute unsportsmanlike yet the Bruins could not break down Ryan Miller’s door.

With the Sabres putting steady pressure on the Bruins through the period, Boston’s best chance came near the 18:30 mark when the puck got loose in the crease in front of Ryan Miller. Boston forward Mark Recchi dove for it but it was cleared and skipped through the neutral zone off the center wall to defenseman Tyler Myers. Bruins defenseman Adam McQuaid missed on the loose puck and  Myers picked it up and let go of a sneaky wrist shot that surprised Rask on his glove side the Buffalo tied the game at two at 18:35.

Shots through second period (total):

Bruins — 11 (22).

Sabres — 14 (31).

Read More: Derek Roy, Paul Gaustad, Ryan Miller, Tuukka Rask
Bruins cannot catch a break 02.06.10 at 5:08 pm ET
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When things are going bad there is a no such thing as catching a break. Sometimes the break catches you.

The Bruins were skating to what was looking like a 2-1 win against Vancouver on Saturday afternoon when Canucks defenseman Sami Salo broke his stick trying to send a blast on Bruins goaltender Tuukka Rask. The puck idled off the shot and was over-skated in a clearing attempt by Milan Lucic before Tanner Glass came in and found it in the high slot to send it back on Rask. Vancouver forward Pavol Demitra was in the perfect place to redirect it with the shaft of his stick to tie the game at two. Vancouver went on to win in a shootout.

“Bad luck, story of my season, [expletive deleted], nothing can go right. What can you do?” Lucic said.

Rask saw the play develop in front of him but the odd deflection was enough to get it passed him in his second straight start and second straight shootout loss.

“I saw it, I saw it,” Rask said. “But the guy tipped it in front of me and you can’t just stand there and wait for the tip. I try to be square for the puck and he just happened to make kind of a weird tip and he tipped it over my shoulder. That’s the kind of luck we haven’t gotten in the past couple of games. Just got to stick with it, and it’s coming.”

It is those type of plays that are really starting to wear on the Bruins patience. For three straight games Boston has played well only to see a seemingly innocuous play turn into the deciding factor in the game. On Thursday it was the Matt Hunwick’s penalty that led to the first on Montreal’s two goals in the final minutes of the second period that turned the game around. On Tuesday against the Capitals it was Blake Wheeler and David Krejci not being able to get the puck past Jose Theodore on a wide-open net and then watch as Washington comes storming back minutes later. Good games by the Bruins are turning into losses on a dime.

“It is disheartening. You guys watched that last goal. A guy breaks his stick, [Lucic] should be off on a break away, 2-on-1, and it just kind of flubs through his legs and skate and the guy turns and fires it away,” Savard said. “It is not even a clean tip, it hits his shaft and skips up in the top corner. It is just disheartening, like I said. We go through overtime trying to get the win but no break.”

The Bruins were good in the third period against Vancouver. They did not sit back and wait to lose the game, they were active in trying to put a third goal passed Luongo. The Canuck stoned them which allowed his team enough of an opportunity to catch the break that the Bruins have not been able to in their 10 game skid.

“I still thought we played well in the third with that 2-1 lead and then that mistake and that turned into a goal and that is the end of it,” coach Claude Julien said. “I really thought that we were playing well enough in the third that we could have won that game 2-1. When [Lucic] over-skated that puck and they just threw it at the net, those are the type of things where you say ‘you’ve got to be kidding me, give me a break here’ . . . right now it is just the way it is.”

So it is. The Bruins 10th straight loss turned on a broken stick, a breakaway that wasn’t and a tip off the shaft of Demitra’s stick. With all the breaks, it is a wonder that the Bruins cannot catch one. That is just how things work when a team is in the skids.

Read More: Marc Savard, Milan Lucic, Pavol Demitra, Tuukka Rask
Rask: ‘Don’t know to cry or laugh’ 02.04.10 at 11:47 pm ET
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Perhaps it was complete frustration of it all that inspired Bruins goalie Tuukka Rask to sum up the current state of affairs for the Bruins after firing 47 shots on net and scoring twice in a 3-2 shootout loss to Montreal, extending their futility streak to nine games.

“I don’t know to cry or laugh here because I think we pretty much dominated the whole game,” Rask said of his teammates who outshot Montreal, 47-25.

“Good chances and their goalie plays an unbelievable game. Going into shootout, I wanted to win so bad, make that save.”

Neither team seemed destined to score after two scoreless rounds to open the shootout. But then Brian Gionta beat Rask up top with a backhander. And when Marc Savard failed on his attempt, the ninth straight ‘L’ was in the books.

“Their guy happened to beat me there and we took the loss,” Rask said. “At least we get a point so it’s something.”

Read More: Boston Bruins, Montreal Canadiens, NHL, Tuukka Rask
Recchi strikes for first period lead at 7:45 pm ET
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Neither the Bruins nor the Canadiens looked sharp in the early minutes of the first period at TD Garden. Boston had a couple power play opportunities in period when Brian Gionta went to the box at the :46 mark for hooking and then again when Jaroslav Spacek took an interference call at 9:13. The Bruins tied-17th ranked power play unit could not muster much against Habs goaltender Jaroslav Halak or the Montreal defense.

Boston looked a little tight in the early going and had trouble in making crisp passes out of its defensive zone. The Canadiens were up to the challenge though as they looked equally inept at sustaining offensive pressure and only managed to put five shots on Tuukka Rask.

As the period wore on, Boston was able to start asserting itself more and the defense clamped down and the offense started to put pucks on Halak.

Montreal continued to rack up penalty minutes and it eventually cost it a goal at 15:48 when Andre Markov went to the box for a delay of game. The Bruins set up their power play offense and Derek Morris was able to move the defense by sliding down the right wing before cycling back up to Dennis Wideman at the point. Wideman had plenty of time and space and released a slap shot towards the goal that deflected of Mark Recchi past Halak for the 1-0 lead.

First period shots:

Boston  - 15

Montreal – 5

Read More: Dennis Wideman, Jaroslav Halak, Mark Recchi, Tuukka Rask
Canadiens set to invade TD Garden at 1:27 pm ET
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If there was ever a game for the Bruins to get back to their winning ways, Thursday night against archrival Montreal Canadiens would be it. Boston has fallen from fifth to 12th in the Eastern Conference standings during its eight game losing streak and has watched division opponents like the Habs leapfrog them in the standings.

Over the past three games the Bruins have played with good energy and decent emotion but have not seen the results on the scoreboard. The team has not had a positive seminal moment during the season, a game that defines the squad and sets the pace for winning hockey. With the Canadiens in town and all the fanfare that comes along with them, Thursday could be a good time to turn things around.

“There is a lot of history in it, the crowd always gets into it. It is kind of cool when they have all those Montreal Canadiens fans in the crowd. It always gets us excited every time we play these guys,” Milan Lucic said.

Yes, there is history between these two Original Six hockey clubs, but recent history between the players on each roster is not worth much going into Thurday’s contest. Last year Boston and Montreal hooked up for a memorable, fight filled battle in the Bruins last home game of the regular season and tensions and between the two were high during the Boston’s three game, first round sweep in the playoffs. Yet, significant agitators on last year’s Habs roster such as Mike Komisarek (Toronto), Saku Koivu (Anaheim), Georges Laraque (released late January) and Andrei Kostitsyn (knee injury, out till after Olympics) are not around as are several players from last year’s Bruins roster. Hence, there are not many hard feelings carried over between the players going into Thursday’s contest.

“I wish [there was carry over] but they have kind of revamped their lineup so a lot of those guys who we had the big rivalries with in the last three years are gone. I would not mind creating new ones, I suppose,” Bruins enforcer Shawn Thornton said. “We don’€™t like each other, we haven’€™t for years. I think it will be a fun game to play in, I think everybody will be up for it. So, I hope we will turn it around, yeah.”

The Bruins roster turmoil has had some effect on their goal output recently as they strive for chemistry on newly formed lines with the roster turnover or players returning from injury. As players such as Marco Sturm and Marc Savard get their health and timing back, the hope is that Boston can start generating more goals and find a way to win some games.

“We have not helped ourselves either with all the different line combinations but we are not the only team going through that and we are not going to make excuses but we have not had the same lines,” coach Claude Julien said. “The chemistry with injuries and the lines, it is a challenge and kind of have to fight through that and hopefully as we are getting a little healthier hopefully that comes back.”

At the same time, the Bruins goaltenders would do the rest of the team a big favor if they could completely shutdown an opposing team. Tuukka Rask was the first goalie off the ice after Thursday’s morning skate and will likely get the start against the Canadiens. He said that both him and Tim Thomas are always approach games with the notion that the goaltender might be able to steal a win for the team.

“We got to have that state of mind before every game. The past few games have been like that, we can’€™t let in any weak goals. We approach games that way that we are going to steal them and hopefully it is going to happen soon,” Rask said. “We really feel that we have been playing better and better here just without the results but I am trying to get the win here today.”

10 Bruins forwards participated in the morning skate with Mark Recchi, Savard, Sturm and Michael Ryder the missing men. On the blue line Boston had six skaters with Andrew Ference taking the ice and Dennis Wideman absent. Ference has missed the last 12 games with a groin injury. Mark Stuart will still be sidelined with a broken finger he sustained against the Kings last Saturday and is expected to be out until after the Olympics at the very least. It remains doubtful that Ference will play against the Canadiens which probably means that Adam McQuaid and Wideman will be on the rink when the puck drops barring a last minute change of plans.

Read More: Andrew Ference, Boston Bruins, Marc Savard, Milan Lucic
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