By Luke Coughlan/DFP Staff
In a battle to avoid the last spot in the Northeast Division, the Montreal Canadiens upstaged the Boston Bruins, 2-1, behind the stellar play of goalie Carey Price on Thursday night at the Garden. The Bruins (2-5-0) dropped to the cellar of both the division and the Eastern Conference with the loss to the Canadiens (2-3-2) combined with a Winnipeg Jets win over the Philadelphia Flyers.
“I don’t know if I imagined [being in last place one month into the season],” Bruins head coach Claude Julien said. “I’d probably get nightmares thinking about how we’re playing right now more than anything else. It’s more about our team right now.
Following a pattern that has plagued them through their first seven games, the Bruins opened the game with plenty of pressure, registering 10 shots to the Canadiens’ six in the first period, but cooled off after gaining the lead.
At 14:04, Habs center Petteri Nokelainen was whistled for interference after a lengthy Bruins offensive possession. On the ensuing play to Price’s right, Bruins center Patrice Bergeron lost the faceoff to Plekanec who directed the puck behind him, hoping to get it back to a teammate for an easy clear to open the penalty kill. The puck went back to Price, however, and he misplayed the puck as it slipped past his stick, through his legs and into the bottom-left corner of the net to give the Bruins a 1-0 lead.
Bergeron was credited with his second goal of the year, and he never had to touch the puck.
“I just Bill Bucknered it,” Price said. “Just a mental lapse, for sure. I didn’t want that to be the winning goal. Our guys did good to get it back and they bailed me out.”
“It just got stuck in there,” Plekanec said. “It was an unlucky goal. You don’t see it that often, but we got through it. We won the game, so that’s all that matters.”
After weathering the Bruins’ offensive storm in the first period, the Habs stepped on the gas in the second. At the 10:27 mark, left winger Erik Cole redirected a slap shot from defenseman Jaroslav Spacek past Bruins goalie Tim Thomas, tying the game.
Three minutes later, Bruins forward Brad Marchand and Canadiens defenseman P.K. Subban began what would turn out to be a trilogy of encounters. After holding each other in preparation for a fight at 13:47, the officials stepped between them and sent them both to the box with matching minors, much to the Garden crowd’s dismay.
Immediately after the penalties were over, the two dropped their gloves again but were separated by the officials a second time, this time sent to the penalty box for a delay of game.
In defiant fashion, the pair went at it again immediately after exiting their respective sin bins, and this time, the refs stood back. With the crowd as loud as it had been all night to that point, the two circled one another and finally came together when Subban missed on an initial hay-maker that Marchand astutely dodged.
Marchand engaged with Subban and waited for him to stand up before the pair traded punches back and forth. Subban missed a few more times and in the end, the two called it quits before either player was on the ground.
“It all started off the draw,” Marchand said. “He kind of gave me a little shot with his elbow and then I grabbed him and he grabbed me and I thought he wanted to then, so I dropped my gloves. When we were in the box [after being called for holding], he asked me to go and I said ‘no.’ Then when we were back in the second time he asked me again and I couldn’t say no so it was nice to get it out of the way.”
With score settled and the crowd on its feet on the ensuing Bruins power play — defenseman Josh Gorges was whistled for holding at the same time as the fight — it seemed a perfect time for the Bruins to break through offensively.
However, Price continued to find the puck, and defenseman Raphael Diaz made a sliding save to keep the score knotted at one apiece.
In the third, sloppy passing allowed the Canadiens to maintain offensive pressure, and when defenseman Adam McQuaid was unable to connect with Bergeron on an outlet pass from the defensive end, Plekanec redeemed himself by picking up the loose puck, streaking down the right slot and wristing the puck past Thomas stick-side to give Montreal a 2-1 lead.
“I was looking, trying to hit [Bergeron] up the middle there,” McQuaid said. “I passed a little too far in front of him and they made a quick transition. So bad pass on my part.”
With Thomas pulled for an extra attacker in the game’s final minutes, Price made the last of his 29 saves and wrapped up the victory for the Canadiens. While Thomas made 33 saves for the home team and was the centerpiece of a strong defensive effort, it was little comfort to Julien, whose team has fallen to 25th in the league in goals per game with 2.11.
“We can sit here and look at those [missed opportunities] and think it’s great,” he said. “But when you really look at the game itself, our team is not playing the way it should be or can play through the whole 60 minutes. I need to look further than just missed opportunities.
“Unfortunately, we’re not sitting here looking at one or two players you can move around. You’re looking at the majority of the team. That’s where the issue is, and this is what we have to find a way to correct.”
By René Reyes/DFP Staff
After captain Zdeno Chara’s instigator penalty late in the second period, the rest of Tuesday’s tilt against the Carolina Hurricanes was a blur admitted Boston Bruins goaltender Tuukka Rask.
With the Bruins trailing 2-0 at the 14:19 mark, Chara took it quite personally when teammate Nathan Horton was caught in the middle of an altercation near the Carolina net with defenseman Jay Harrison. The 6-foot-9 Chara raced to Horton’s defense and began pummeling the 6-foot-4 Harrison without restraint.
Hurricanes goalie Cam Ward had a few words for Chara during the scrum, and within moments, found himself standing mask-to-mask with Rask, who had skated the length of the ice to ask Ward why he was chirping at Chara.
“I just saw some engagement,” Chara said. “Nathan was involved, and obviously I was trying to stick up for him. So I ran in, and it just happened.”
“It was a mistake on my part to skate over there,” Rask said. “That’s what I have to say about that.”
Sixty-one penalty minutes, three game misconducts and four roughing penalties later, and the Bruins (2-4-0) have no one to blame but themselves for their 4-1 loss to the Hurricanes (3-2-1) at TD Garden.
“We have to take responsibility for our own actions here,” said a stone-faced Bruins coach Claude Julien, who was ejected from the game in the final minutes of the third period. “It’s the easy thing to point at everybody. And I think what I saw from tonight is that we start off the game well. In the first period, we had some great chances, but we’re not capitalizing. And what I see is frustration setting in, and the minute we start getting frustrated, we lose focus of our game, and then it gets worse and worse.
“And that’s been a bit of a pattern this year. … And obviously I’m not on the ice to hear or see everything that’s going on as far as the misconducts were concerned, but I think we have to take that responsibility upon ourselves and understand that the referees have a job to do.”
In what has become a common theme for the Stanley Cup champions six games into their title defense, the B’s have been unable to take advantage of their Grade-A chances right off the bat. Julien’s squad has exemplified this current trend in narrow one-goal defeats to the Philadelphia Flyers and Colorado Avalanche.
Last night wasn’t any different, as the Bruins’ frustration only mounted early on after each Ward kick save, each failed conversion around the cage and each ill-advised turnover in the offensive zone.
The Bruins looked to get on the board first, but Ward (33 saves) stymied close-range attempts from Brad Marchand, Rich Peverly and Tyler Seguin in the contest’s opening 45 seconds.
Instead, Carolina jumped out to the quick 1-0 lead on right winger Anthony Stewart’s second goal of the year. Rask (19 saves) made the initial shoulder save on defenseman Joni Pitkanen’s shot from the left dot. Left winger Brett Sutter whiffed on the ensuing rebound, leaving Stewart to tap in the loose puck at 2:47.
Later on in the frame, Sutter leveled B’s defenseman Joe Corvo with a strong hit that sent him flying into the boards. Corvo stayed down on the ice for several minutes and then headed toward the Bruins’ locker room under his own power.
Ward was nothing short of spectacular in the first session, turning aside all 13 shots he faced with an array of glove, chest and stick saves.
“They always come out extremely hard in their own building, and as long as you weather the storm and come up with some big saves, it changes the momentum,” Ward said. “Fortunately, I was able to do that, and we were able to get our feet underneath us and play a much more solid game after that.”
“We had our chances,” Peverly said. “We got a lot of chances, but you have to give credit to Cam Ward. He played unbelievable. On our part, we have to do a better job of finding ways to get the puck against him so that’s the way to win, especially in the first period.”
Pitkanen doubled the Hurricanes’ cushion a little over 10 minutes into the middle period. Collecting a tipped pass from center Tuomo Ruutu, Pitkanen sped down the left boards and through the neutral zone, eventually unleashing a slap shot from the left circle that snuck under Rask’s glove.
Peverly cut the Bruins’ deficit to 2-1 when his wrister near the edge of the right circle beat Ward top shelf with 9:01 remaining in regulation. Peverly’s PP goal snapped an 0-for-22 stretch in which the Bruins hadn’t converted on the man advantage and also signaled the first time the B’s had scored in front of Rask in over six periods.
Seconds later, however, Horton was assessed a double-minor for roughing and a 10-minute game misconduct, Chara a two-minute minor for high sticking and Marchand a 10-minute game misconduct, penalties that quelled any momentum the Bruins may have gained from Peverly’s tally.
Goals by captain Eric Staal and Ruutu on the 5-on-3 advantages at 13:26 and 14:58 of the third period, respectively, secured the victory for the Hurricanes.
“We obviously frustrated them with our play and were in their face and aggressive, and they were trying to get something going,” Staal said. “And when they’re doing what they’re doing, I mean, the refs have no choice but to call penalties when they’re penalties, and we capitalized eventually on the 5-on-3, and it was a big win.”
Tuesday night, the Bruins allowed their emotions to get the best of them.
“It’s a fine line too to go overboard, and it’ll harm your game,” Rask said. “And today it did. I thought we came pretty hard in the third and got that goal and made it a game. But then we shot ourselves in the foot after that, things kind of turned around.
“But it’s hockey. It’s one game, and we just got to learn from these and maybe control our emotions a little more next time.”
By René Reyes/DFP Staff
Boston Bruins coach Claude Julien had to step aside for a moment during the pregame ceremony that culminated in his players Zdeno Chara, Tim Thomas and Patrice Bergeron and members of the 1972 championship squad raising the B’s sixth Stanley Cup banner to the rafters Thursday night.
The return of the now-retired Shane Hnidy and presentation of the Bruins’ legendary Jacket to Mark Recchi on the TD Garden ice only made the occasion that much more special for Julien, who was faced with keeping his emotions in check and his team focused on its regular season-opener against the Philadelphia Flyers.
“I was doing my best to keep my mind at doing my job and the game,” Julien said. “It was emotional, I think, to say the least, and when you see the highlights and when you see your players going around the ice with the Cup, I felt proud for them. Emotionally, it was tough for me. I kind of walked away for a while and came back and, you know, it just goes to show you the emotions that go into those things.
“Even seeing Mark Recchi and Hnidy that were here – you know, guys that really played big parts in different ways in helping us succeed – to see them with the group, and it was their last opportunity to be with the team, on the ice with them, those kind of things kind of hit home.”
But leave it to the Flyers to crash the Bruins’ party. Forwards Claude Giroux and Jakub Voracek each tallied a goal and netminder Ilya Brzygalov, Philly’s $51 million free-agent acquisition this offseason, stonewalled the B’s offense in the last two periods en route to a 2-1 victory before a raucous and sold-out crowd at the Garden.
It didn’t take long, however, for the Bruins to strike first.
Brad Marchand started his sophomore campaign right where he left off during the Bruins’ Stanley Cup run last summer, when he tallied 19 points (11 goals, 8 assists) in 25 playoff games. The pesky 5-foot-9 left winger received a beautiful leading pass from teammate Tyler Seguin and beat Brzygalov (22 saves) with a forehand-to-backhand finish at 9:42 of the first frame.
The backhand move on his power-play goal was totally intentional too, Marchand said.
“I knew I was going to, yeah,” Marchand quipped when asked if he knew he was going to backhand the shot as he approached Brzygalov. “I wanted to come across. I’m not going to say that I meant to go where it went but it went in. That’s all that matters.”
Immediately following Marchand’s score, Seguin peppered Brzygalov with two shots, one of which clanked off the right post. The 19-year-old center made his presence felt throughout the contest, registering three shots and finishing with 17:20 of ice time (4:31 on the power play). With Recchi’s retirement and Michael Ryder’s departure to the Dallas Stars, Julien will be relying more on Seguin to contribute on a consistent basis in his second full year in the NHL.
Seguin said there’ve already been some noticeable differences in his game since last season.
“I think since after the playoffs, I know what I want to keep continue improving on and that was really my core and my compete level,” Seguin said. “Keeping that hunger at a consistent basis. And there were times tonight where I thought I was doing a good job, and then in the third, I thought I could have done a better job on a couple plays.”
For one night at least, the Flyers solved the “battlefly” – not to mention the reigning Vezina Trophy and Conn Smythe Award winner – that is Thomas (27 saves) in that opening period. Philadelphia answered with two quick goals of its own in a span of 47 seconds to take a 2-1 advantage they would not relinquish.
With Bruins forward Nathan Horton in the penalty box for slashing, the Flyers tied the game at the 19:10 mark when Giroux weaved his way through traffic and deposited a forehand shot under Thomas’ right pad before crashing into the net. Forward Jaromir Jagr, playing in his first game back in the NHL after spending three seasons in Russia’s Kontinental Hockey League, recorded an assist on the play for his 1,600th career point.
Thomas was then forced into stopping a shot by Philly defenseman Andrej Meszaros from the right point. But Voracek picked up the loose disk from the slot and wristed the game-winner with 2.4 seconds remaining in the first session, slipping it through Thomas’ five-hole and quieting the home fans in a heartbeat.
After riding the adrenaline from the banner raising ceremony to such a blazing start, the Bruins lost their legs, according to Julien, and were not able to recover from those two Philly goals. Despite attempting 11 of their 23 shots in the third and final period, the B’s couldn’t find the equalizer.
“I think it was the two goals at the end of the period there, kind of put a damper on things,” Marchand said. “We had a pretty good first and then you know, they get a couple quick goals at the end, it kind of takes the life out of your sails so that stuff happens, but you have to learn how to regroup and bounce back from that.”
Bruins assistant captain Patrice Bergeron agreed.
“Those two goals kind of hurt us and put us back on our heels,” Bergeron said. “I thought the first period most of it was ours. The first fifteen minutes in I thought we generated a lot of chances and we were playing well but those two goals hurt us. We didn’t find a way to come back and weren’t playing our game in the second period.
“And in the third, I thought we did that. We had some good chances and we’ve got to find a way to score goals.”
Julien wasn’t too concerned with the disappointing result, though. It was just the defending Stanley Cup champs’ first test in a long and grueling 82-game schedule.
“We didn’t seem to go up the ice as a unit, and I think there’s a lot of things in our game tonight that just wasn’t characteristic of our team,” Julien said. “I think the guys realize it. I think we understand we got to be a lot better at that next game. It’s game one of 82. As I often say, we’ll learn from this, but we need to get better, and we understand, and we will get better.”
By René Reyes/DFP Staff
With Sidney Crosby out for his fifth straight game with a concussion just as the Pittsburgh Penguins came into town for Saturday’s matinee, the Boston Bruins seemed to be in prime position to cap off the week with their fourth win in six days.
But Pittsburgh center Jordan Staal tallied the game-winner at 3:25 of the third and goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury turned aside a season-high 44 shots, as the Penguins (28-14-4) avoided another late-game meltdown and held on for a 3-2 victory over the Bruins (24-13-7) at the TD Garden.
“It was a tough battle,” Staal said. “They are a good team. They played a pretty solid game. I thought that [Fleury] stood on his head for us in the third.”
The Bruins peppered Fleury with a barrage of shots in the final frame but were unable to stage a comeback like they did on Monday against the same Penguins, when they scored four unanswered goals in the last four minutes and escaped Consol Energy Center with a 4-2 result.
“We had plenty of chances,” said Bruins center Gregory Campbell. “I thought we probably could have had a better start. Nevertheless we battled back, and we played pretty well. I mean they were battling and playing pretty hard too, so sometimes it goes like that.”
The Penguins jumped out to the early 1-0 advantage at the 10:57 mark of the first period. B’s antagonist Matt Cooke came out of the penalty box at an opportune time, collected the puck and raced down the right wing with it before sliding it across to Staal at the left circle. Staal then dished the puck to forward Chris Kunitz in the slot, who tapped it home for his 15th goal of the season.
The play went under review to see if Kunitz had kicked the disk in, but head referee Dave Jackson explained that Kunitz didn’t demonstrate any kicking motion, and as a result, the goal would count.
Bruins coach Claude Julien agreed with the call.
“I guess the kicking motion for them, the foot has to kind of leave the ice and it’s got to be a kicking motion,” Julien said. “I mean, they reviewed it and you have to respect that. There’s going to be no argument from our side of it. If they review it and they feel it’s a goal, it’s a goal.”
Forward Pascal Dupuis doubled the Penguins’ lead only 41 seconds into the second period. Defenseman Zbynek Michalek’s shot from the point went wide left, deflected off the end boards and right to Dupuis, who tucked the rebound into the right post before B’s netminder Tuukka Rask (33 saves) could get there in time.
Bruins defenseman Dennis Seidenberg and forward Michael Ryder scored 13 seconds apart in the second to pull the Bruins into a 2-2 tie with the Penguins.
Seidenberg netted the Bruins’ first goal at 11:28 when his slap shot from the left point traveled through traffic and found the back of the net.
“It was good pressure by the fourth line,” Seidenberg said of his goal. “I mean they were grinding it out. And the puck just jumped out, I just shot and [forward Daniel Paille] had a great screen in front of the net so it went in.”
Following the face-off at center ice after the Bruins got on the board, B’s center Marc Savard fed a no-look pass to Ryder, who charged down the ice and fired a wrist shot that whizzed by Fleury.
“I was coming in down the wing and was trying to use [Michalek] as a screen,” Ryder said. “Fleury sees the puck most of the time and makes that save so I was just trying to use the defenseman as a screen.”
Penguins coach Dan Bylsma immediately called a timeout to calm his squad down, which had surrendered its two-goal cushion in the blink of an eye.
“It was part of the consideration,” Bylsma said when asked if he would have called the timeout if he were playing against any team other than the Bruins given their history of comebacks against the Penguins. “It was part of the consideration given the history. I also don’t like having a timeout in my hand at the end of the game, and I just felt like we needed to look up at the clock and it’s 2-2.
“We had played a lot of good hockey in that second period at our pace, and we gave up the two goals and we still had time to get our heads straight and our guys did that for sure.”
The Penguins went ahead for good on Staal’s goal with under 16 minutes to go in regulation. Staal got a hold of the loose puck in the slot and beat Rask with a strong finish on the backhand.
“It wasn’t pretty, just getting to the net,” Staal said. “I think we needed one like that. We did a decent job of getting in front of the net. We need to do that a little more. It wasn’t going to be pretty.”
Despite the loss, Julien was satisfied with his team’s overall effort.
“There’s times where it’s unfortunate you lose a game,” Julien said. “And I thought the effort was there and I thought the focus was there to win the hockey game tonight. And I mean unfortunately we had a lot of chances where pucks went through Fleury and instead of ending up in the net. They either hit the post or the side of the net or trickled wide. And I think the guys really gave it a good shot there, especially in the third period.”
For others such as Rask, the loss wasn’t so easy to swallow.
“These are the games that you want to step up and win the game for your team because they played so well,” Rask said. “And then today, you know, we lost. It sucks.”
By René Reyes/DFP Staff
Rookie Steven Kampfer made a name for himself Thursday night against the Philadelphia Flyers. First, the Boston Bruins defenseman delivered a big hit on Flyers veteran Scott Hartnell in the third period. Then, the 5-foot-11 native of Ann Arbor, Mich., notched his first career game-winning goal with 1:14 remaining in regulation in a contest that saw the B’s come back from three one-goal deficits and rally to score five times in the third.
The unexpected offensive contribution from Kampfer – who tallied just seven goals in four collegiate seasons at the University of Michigan – carried the Bruins (24-12-7) to a riveting 7-5 victory over the Eastern Conference-leading Flyers (27-11-5) before another raucous crowd of 17,565 at the TD Garden.
“I thought it was kind of a teeter-totter game there,” Kampfer said. “We didn’t play well at certain points, and they came back in the game and we battled back, and we got two points. That was huge for us against the No. 1 team in our conference.”
The Flyers struck first in this matchup between two hated rivals at 3:34 of the first period. Flyers forward Ville Leino sent a pass from the right boards that Hartnell got a hold of behind the cage and swatted past B’s goaltender Tim Thomas (30 saves). Hartnell’s goal snapped the Bruins’ 10-0 unanswered goal streak, which dated back to the third period of Monday’s game against the Pittsburgh Penguins.
After Hartnell and Flyers teammate Braydon Coburn were both called for hooking near the end of the first, the Bruins were awarded with their first power play opportunity of the night. B’s captain Zdeno Chara capitalized on the five-on-three advantage at the 18:16 mark of the first period. He unleashed a bomb from the right circle that sizzled into the top left corner. With the goal, Chara extended his points streak to four straight games.
“[Bruins center Marc Savard] made a nice pass, and I just buried it,” Chara said. “It was nice to go in. We really needed one, especially on the five-on-three. You know how important it is that you take charge and score a goal with the two-man advantage.”
The Bruins went ahead 2-1 only 45 seconds into the second period. Kampfer wristed a shot from the blue line that deflected off Bruins forward Patrice Bergeron – who was screening Flyers netminder Brian Boucher (30 saves) – and into the net. Bergeron’s 14th tally of the season was his fourth goal in the last two games.
With less than five minutes to go in the same frame, Chara committed a turnover in the Bruins’ offensive zone. Flyers right winger Andreas Nodl collected the loose puck and sent it up the ice to an open Nikolai Zherdev, who deked Thomas with a backhand finish on the clean breakaway.
The Flyers would tack on another goal right before the second period was up when center Jeff Carter’s wrister from the left face-off circle beat Thomas stick side, gaining a 3-2 lead with only 36 seconds left in the frame.
The Bruins knotted the game at 3-3 on a goal from forward Mark Recchi at 0:38 of the third. Chara sent the disk from the B’s defensive end toward the Philly end, but the puck hit the end boards behind the net and bounced right to Recchi, who potted the empty-netter, as Boucher was caught out of position trying to retrieve the puck.
“I was going for the forecheck,” Recchi said. “I was just going straight in. I knew it was going to come out, so we’ll take a lucky break and play our game.”
A minute and 10 seconds later, the Bruins would make it a 4-3 advantage over the Flyers. B’s defenseman Adam McQuaid put a shot on goal from the right point that deflected off forward Michael Ryder’s stick and snuck inside the right post.
Coburn’s shot from just outside of the slot ricocheted off Thomas’ right pad and right to forward Danny Briere, who tapped the puck home at the 6:48 mark, tying the contest at four goals apiece.
The Flyers retook a one-goal edge, 5-4, less than a minute later when captain Mike Richards slid the puck to a charging Sean O’Donnell, who then netted his first career goal in 49 games with the flick of a wrist from the left circle.
Bruins center Brad Marchand scored the equalizer at 11:26. When he fell bringing the puck to goal, forward Blake Wheeler managed to tip the puck to Marchand, who quickly scooped it up and zipped it past the glove of Boucher and into the top right corner.
“From what I remember, I think [center Gregory Campbell] passed it to [Wheeler] and he came in and got me the puck and I tried to get it on net,” Marchand said. “I got a lucky shot and found the net.”
Kampfer scored the go-ahead goal – his fourth career NHL goal in his last nine games played – for the Bruins at 18:46. Kampfer ripped a shot from the right face-off circle that slipped by Boucher’s right shoulder.
“I saw the guy rimming the puck around the wall there,” Kampfer said of his game-winning goal. “I had a jump on the guy, the forward up on the red line, so I just jumped in. I just tried to get a shot on net, and I was fortunate enough to beat him far-side high.”
Bruins coach Claude Julien has been pleased with the development of Marchand and Kampfer, both young players who are starting to play big roles for this Bruins squad.
“It’s good that it happens against teams like the Flyers, the elite teams,” Julien said. “When your young players can rise to the occasion and do well, it certainly speaks for itself. I think their development has been pretty good. Our young guys are developing well and hopefully that continues. They’ve been contributing and you need that.”
Campbell added an empty-net goal with 6.8 ticks left on the clock, sealing the Bruins’ 7-5 win and capping off a five-goal third period for the hometown team in a game where the lead changed hands five different times.
“I wish I could say it was a lot of fun, although we had to come from behind a couple of times,” Julien said. “But no, I think I liked the way our guys battled back. Even though I thought defensively we might have been a little sloppy or not as good as we have been, we still battled hard and we still found some ways to score goals, and at the end of the night, that’s all you can ask for.
“When you beat a team like the Flyers, who are obviously a very good team this year and are playing so well, at the end of the night you take the two points and you appreciate it.”
By René Reyes/DFP Staff
Boston Bruins forward Patrice Bergeron would not be denied of his first career NHL hat trick Tuesday night against the Ottawa Senators.
Bergeron was credited with the Bruins’ fourth goal of the game at 14:07 of the second period, but after further review, the goal was rightfully awarded to forward Brad Marchand. Marchand’s centering pass from the left boards had indeed deflected off Senators defenseman Sergei Gonchar’s skate and into the net, and not off Bergeron’s, as it had initially appeared.
The B’s assistant captain, however, would eventually complete his hat trick at the 5:04 mark of the third period, as his three-goal performance led the Bruins (23-12-7) to a resounding 6-0 victory over their lowly Northeast Division rival Senators (16-21-6) before a sellout crowd of 17,565 at the TD Garden.
“It’s surprising that it’s his first one,” said Bruins forward Blake Wheeler of Bergeron’s hat trick. “I would have thought that he’d have five or six right now. But it’s a big night for him and he’s been playing unbelievable hockey for us.”
Less than four minutes into the contest, Senators defenseman Chris Campoli passed the puck from behind his own cage to teammate Mike Fisher, but the disk went off Fisher’s skate and between his legs. Bergeron took advantage of the turnover and rifled a wrister from the slot and into the top right corner to give the B’s the early 1-0 edge. Bergeron’s first-period goal extended his points streak to four straight games.
The Bruins would double their cushion at 6:14 of the first when Wheeler tapped home a nifty feed from center Tyler Seguin for his 10th goal of the season. The play went under review to see if Wheeler had deliberately kicked the puck into the net, but after a few short minutes, head referee Chris Rooney announced that the call made on the ice would stand.
“We did a good job forechecking,” Wheeler said. “You know Seggy did a great job being on the boards the first time. He tried to get me in the back door and then we got it back and you know eyes in the back of his head made a great play to me so those are the easy ones to score.”
The floodgates opened up in the second period.
Bergeron notched his second goal of the night with 17:10 remaining in the middle frame. Bergeron pounced on an Ottawa turnover in the neutral zone, tried to deke Ottawa defenseman Filip Kuba, batted the puck out of the air and slipped it past goaltender Brian Elliot (22 saves) for a 3-0 Bruins lead.
“Patrice is one of the best players on this team, and the reason why he is one of the best players is because he brings that work ethic and energy every game,” said B’s captain Zdeno Chara. “He works extremely hard and is a great example on and off the ice for a lot of us, and that’s why he is getting rewarded now.”
Fans at the Garden tossed their hats onto the ice after Marchand’s tally at the 14:07 mark of the second, thinking Bergeron had recorded a hat trick.
But they were mistaken. So was Marchand, the correct goal-scorer.
“I thought Bergy got the goal,” Marchand said. “I think it just hit a skate or something like that. It was lucky.”
Seguin would get in on the scoring action as well with five minutes to go in the second session. Bruins center David Krejci slid him the puck in the slot, and Seguin sniped it top shelf for his seventh on the year and Boston’s fifth goal of the evening.
“Blake Wheeler made a great rush to the net, you know, drove to the net far post,” Seguin said. “And Krejci saw me in the seam there and I just opened up for a few seconds. He hit me on the tape and I scored.”
Senators coach Cory Clouston replaced Brian Elliot with Mike Brodeur (11 saves) in net at the start of the third period, and it wouldn’t take long for Bergeron to welcome him into the game. Five minutes into the final frame, Bergeron fired a slap shot from the right face-off circle that beat Brodeur stick side for the Bruins’ sixth goal and capped off his first three-goal night in 418 career games.
“Everyone’s leaving the building with no hats on,” Bergeron said of how badly he wanted to earn the hat trick after his third goal was given to Marchand. “I guess I wanted to get it because everyone threw their hats on the ice.”
“He had a real good game tonight, and he’s been working so hard for us,” said Bruins coach Claude Julien. “Those kind of guys that you count on every night, that come to play, and you know what you’re going to get from them. When you see when they get those kind of nights where they score a hat trick or they are very successful offensively, it’s always good to see.”
The night undoubtedly belonged to Bergeron, but not to be overlooked in the Bruins’ rout of the Senators was the play of goaltender Tim Thomas (31 saves). Thomas continued his domination of the Senators with the sixth shutout of his career against Ottawa and is now 19-8-2 when he faces the Senators.
The veteran netminder used one word to describe his career-long success against Tuesday night’s opponent.
“Luck,” Thomas said. “We just seem to hit them a lot of times when I’m fresh and when the team is starting to gather momentum. That happens with certain matchups.”
Julien was impressed with the way his team was able to ride the momentum after Monday’s 4-2 road win over the Pittsburgh Penguins, in which the Bruins scored four unanswered third-period goals to steal the victory.
“I like the way we skated tonight,” Julien said. “I thought we had some good jump right off the start and we had some good clean breakouts and it allowed us to have some good speed through the neutral zone. We got pucks behind their D and took advantage of it. I thought our guys were well-focused tonight. As [one reporter] mentioned, it was important to build on last night and not sit on it.”
By Luke Coughlan/DFP Staff
The Boston Bruins had never beaten the Minnesota Wild at home coming into their contest at the TD Garden on Thursday evening. Some things never change.
The Bruins (21-12-6), suffered a 3-1 loss to the Wild (20-15-5), despite getting 31 saves from goaltender Tuukka Rask between the pipes. The loss is their sixth in as many games against the Wild at the Garden, and drops the Bruins’ all-time record versus the Wild to 2-9-0.
The Bruins brought a 1-1 tie into the third period only to see the Wild go ahead on a Marc Savard turnover to Cal Clutterbuck deep in the Bruins’ zone that the Minnesota forward wristed over Rask’s left shoulder.
“We were a tired group and in our zone for a bit,” Savard said. “I wanted to get a high flipper out in the zone to get a change but the puck never left the ice.”
Instead, Clutterbuck had the puck at the edge of the left faceoff circle with a wide open lane to the net in front of him. The right winger had plenty of time to size up his shot, and it paid off. The goal, at 2:22 of the third period, put the Bruins in a hole that they would not be able to escape.
“Yeah, you know, those kind of shots, high glove-side, what you dream about, making the big glove save,” Rask said. “But, you know, it hit my glove or maybe a bar or something. But, you know, tough break.”
Bruins coach Claude Julien benched Savard for his mistake until the final minute of play, but the act did not light a big enough fire under the B’s to result in the equalizer.
“I think when you make a mistake like that everybody’s got to be accountable,” Julien said. “And, you know, it’s one of those things that happens throughout a game and from the first player to the last player you want to make sure that everybody understands that [because] it was a mistake that you don’t expect a guy like that to make [it] doesn’t mean that you lose confidence in him.
“Because you’re gonna go right back with him next game and you hope that they bounce back. That’s what coaches do. They coach. And that’s what I did.”
Wild goalie Jose Theodore and an astute Wild defensive corps kept the Bruins out of the net and out of the game for the remainder of the contest.
With 1:06 remaining in the game and the Bruins still searching for offense, defenseman Zdeno Chara found himself with the puck with traffic in front of the net.
Theodore saw Chara’s slapper from 56 feet from the time it left his stick up until it was safely secured in his glove. It was the netminder’s 34th save of the game, and it was the Bruins’ last chance to get the equalizer. But Theodore made the save despite having multiple men in front of him, and it all but sealed the game.
Julien pulled goalie Tuukka Rask for an extra attacker in the final minute of the game, but Clutterbuck promptly took control of the puck, made his way down the ice and fed center Mikko Koivu for an easy tip into the open net at 19:17 of the third period to ice the victory.
It was that kind of night for the B’s. Not only did the Bruins lead the Wild in shots with a 36-34 edge, Rask stood on his head for the second straight game. The netminder stopped 32 shots and earned a diving save to his left at the 17:37 mark of the second period to rob Martin Havlat of the go-ahead goal.
“I just saw it last-second,” Rask said. “I got scored on the two-on-one [earlier in the game]. I didn’t want to cheat, so I waited, waited and the guy made a nice pass to the backdoor [to Havlat] and I just dove there and it hit my glove.”
That stop came 6:47 after Steve Kampfer scored his third goal in five games to tie the game at one at the 10:50 mark. Kampfer was the beneficiary of a juicy rebound off of a Patrice Bergeron shot that came right to him at the right faceoff circle. The defenseman wristed the puck over Theodore’s left shoulder from 17 feet to knot things up for the remainder of the second period.
The Wild’s first goal of the night came four seconds into their first power play opportunity at 4:45 of the second period. Shawn Thornton was sent off for hooking at 4:41 after Brent Burns fell to the ice. Replays revealed after the fact that Burns had slipped or was trying to draw the call, because the blade of Thornton’s stick did not result in the fall.
Nevertheless, Patrick O’Sullivan won the first faceoff of the power play and got the puck to Martin Havlat, who drove his way right through the Bruins defense for a backhander from 14 feet that beat Rask.
“Tuukka was awesome again,” said Thornton. “I think its awful that that kid plays so good for us all the time and we don’t get the wins for him. We care about him and we should probably show it in a better way. He stood on his head for us pretty much every night and, I don’t know, his save percentage is .940 or something stupid like that. That should be good enough to win a lot of hockey games so we have to look ourselves in the mirror as far as that goes.”
Rask was starting his third straight game, his longest streak of the season, and the loss dropped him to 3-7-1 on the season. His .927 save percentage is fourth in the NHL.
The Bruins went 0-for-4 on the man advantage on the night, oftentimes looking sharper at even strength than on the power play. After forcing Theodore to make four saves in their first two power plays in the first period, the Bruins failed to register a shot on goal in their other two power plays.