Bruins top Islanders, 4-3, in shootout

By Josh Cain, Daily Free Press Staff

Few probably would have expected that the Boston Bruins’ game against the New York Islanders on Saturday would become an instant classic. But as it turns out, the Bruins’ 4-3, come-from-behind shootout win at the TD Banknorth Garden was just that.

The Bruins (2-2-0) rallied in the final eight minutes in regulation to come back from a three-goal deficit. Blake Wheeler and Mark Savard scored in the shootout to seal the win.

“Hopefully this will give us another boost that we need right now to get us past this tough stage,” Bruins coach Claude Julien said, referring to the Bruins slow start. On Thursday, the Boston lost to the visiting Anaheim Ducks, 6-1.

Savard, Byron Bitz and Matt Hunwick scored the late goals to give the Bruins a chance in overtime.

The Islanders (0-0-3) looked like they had put away what could have been their first win of the season in the second period after scoring three goals in just over 10 minutes. First-round draft pick John Tavares was the key, providing an assist and a goal in his first NHL visit to Boston.

New York had a great opportunity in the middle of the first period when Boston was called on back-to-back penalties, giving the Islanders a two-man advantage for a little over 1:30.

The Bruins defense was not about to let the Islanders take advantage of that opportunity, however. After the penalty timer finally elapsed, the score remained 0-0.

That would not, however, be the story of the second period when the Islanders took advantage of a Bruins team that gave up penalty after penalty.

“The penalties took away a lot of our momentum, but we did a good job killing them,” Julien said.

New York scored its first goal of the night at 4:04 in the second. A hooking penalty on the Bruins’ Lucic gave the Islanders a man-advantage. Center Rob Schremp got the puck in the middle of the left face-off circle and took a shot that bounced off goalkeeper Tuukka Rask’s leg. Winger Jon Sim was there for the rebound, flipping the puck over Rask’s right shoulder for his first goal of the season.

Radek Martinek was next, shooting from the right circle just over Rask’s left shoulder to make the score 2-0. Defenseman Mark Streit and Tavares assisted.

At 15:48, Tavares charged through the right circle and laid a wrister into the top left corner of the net, just past Rask who was expecting him to pass it off to his teammate on the left side.

Things looked desperate for the Bruins in the third, their own crowd booing what looked like another poor effort. But Boston turned it on at just the right time.

In the third period at 8:01, Savard started the heroics with a one-timer from the bottom of the right circle that sailed past an off-guard Islanders goaltender Dwayne Roloson.

Bitz made it look easy when he sunk a backhanded shot past an Islanders defender and Roloson to make the score 3-2.

However, the most improbable of all was Hunwick’s goal at 2:34. The defenseman shot a wrister from the Islanders’ blueline that sailed just past a crowd in front of the net and landed in the top-right corner for the tying goal.

In the shootout, Wheeler got things started with a goal through the five-hole. Savard’s backhander beat Roloson, and Rask sealed the deal with a save on a shot from Kyle Okposo.

Rask, a 22-year-old rookie from Finland, got a lot of credit from Julien for his performance. Despite letting up three goals, Rask played well in his Boston debut with 35 saves. Julien said that facing 16 shots in the first period kept Rask “from getting nervous” late in the game.

From the Freep: Bruins drop 6-1 decision to Ducks

By Cary Betagole, Daily Free Press Staff

After resigning their young star left winger Milan Lucic, sustaining a weekend blowout of Carolina and taking an authoritative, 1-0, first period lead over Anaheim, the Boston Bruins were riding momentum on all fronts.

But in the span of 82 seconds, Teemu Selanne undid what felt like all of it.

First, defenseman Matt Hunwick was carted off for interference at the 1:14 mark. Fifty-two seconds later, right winger Marco Sturm followed suit, this time for hooking. Selanne took advantage and changed the mood of the short season, sparking a 6-1 win for the Anaheim Ducks Thursday night at the TD Garden

With a 5-3 man-advantage, the leading active career goal scorer netted his signature slap shot off a kick-out from defenseman Scott Niedermayer, who ranked third in assists among NHL defenseman last year. Then with the 5-on-4 advantage, Selanne saw a broken play come back to him for his second goal of the game.

From there, the game snowballed through a series of solo Anaheim breakaways.

“We’re making it way too easy for teams,” Bruins (1-2-0) coach Claude Julienne said. “We lost faces, we lost battles. They got lucky bounces but when you work hard you get those lucky bounces.”

The Ducks, who entered the game 0-1-1, weathered a 30-17 first and second period shot disadvantage to keep themselves in it, but caught their break early in the second. The Bruins controlled most of the first period and a half, keeping the puck in the offensive end for repeated shots on goal.

At the 16:33 mark, left winger Marco Sturm gave the Bruins a 1-0 lead after outracing three Anaheim defenders to an open spot on the right circle. With no one near the net to rebound, Sturm rifled a blistering slap shot that beat goaltender Jonas Hiller fivehole.

“We had good control of the whole first period,” left wing Steve Begin said.

After Selanne’s strikes, that control had vanished, and right wing Corey Perry padded his stats in wake of its absence.

With 6:58 left in the second, Perry moved left to right through the Ducks’ zone. Perry set his sights on positioning himself for a straight shot, deking around Bruins defenders as he went. And when he did, there was nothing but ice in front him—he buried the shot.

“We need to go back basics,” center Patrice Bergeron said. “We didn’t show up and I don’t think our fans deserve this.”

Giving up six goals is uncharacteristic for a Bruins defense that was the only unit in the league to allow less than 200 goals last season. But the late onslaught may have had more to do with an offense that sold out its defense in an attempt to crawl back with a few big offensive rushes.

“When guys do a little too much to make things happen, it’s necessarily the best way to go about it but it shows guys care,” Bruins forward Shawn Thornton said. “We were taking some chances, when you’re down by a couple and don’t bury those chances those go the other way.”

Ducks right winger Evgeny Artyukhin also got in on the action. After blowing past the defensive zone, he took a trail of three Bruins to the net to witness Anaheim’s fourth goal.

“That’s not our team,” veteran center Marc Savard said. “Everyone knows our team. When we get down, we keep fighting.”

After right winger Bobby Ryan redirected Niedermayer’s drive for the fifth goal, Corey Perry skated through everyone for the sixth, an attempt that served as a microcosm for the night.

Perry’s first chance was turned away. But the rebound glanced off his helmet and went it.

“We’ve got grit and leaders. Nobody wants to lose, everybody wants to win,” Wheeler said. “But we just didn’t do it today.”

From the Freep: Bruins plagued by inconsistency and lack of effort

By Jake Seiner, Daily Free Press Staff

At the end of the first period of Thursday’s game against the Anaheim Ducks, it looked like the Boston Bruins might ease their way into a second-consecutive blowout win. In the process, they were likely to bury any lingering worries about a lackluster 4-1 loss in the season opener a week ago against the Washington Capitals.

On the heels of a 7-2 trouncing of the Carolina Hurricanes Saturday night, the Bruins outshot the Ducks, 19-11, in the first period Thursday. Boston drove to the net seemingly at will, leaving only Anaheim goaltender Joseph Hiller and a handful of misplayed opportunities around the net to keep the Bruins from blowing yet another game wide open.

Instead, the Bruins granted the Ducks one key opportunity, and similar to a week ago, the team came unraveled.

The Ducks didn’t waste the opportunity, as veteran Teemu Selanne knotted two goals in a 1:23 span when defenseman Matt Hunwick and winger Marco Sturm were each stuck in the sin bin just 52 seconds apart.

Four Anaheim goals and two periods of uninspired hockey later, the Bruins, coming off an Eastern Conference best 53-19-10 (116 points) season, were left humbled and in need of long look in the mirror.

“I think it’s something that needs to be addressed –– no doubt about that,” Bruins coach Claude Julien said about the team’s inconsistent play through three games. “Both games [against Washington and Anaheim] have been a result of not being able to handle a little bit of adversity well.”

The inability of the Bruins to respond to Selanne’s second-period goals was reminiscent to the lack of an answer to Brooks Laich’s first-period goal in last Thursday’s loss to the Capitals.

“Until Washington scored, we played well,” Julien said. “[Tonight,] we’re up one-nothing and they score a couple goals on a couple power plays, and instead of getting back and working on getting the next goal, we lost track of what we had to do out there, and they just kind of took the game over at that point.”

Much of the inconsistency, according to Julien, comes directly from a lack of effort.

“I thought we could have brought our game up another notch, and that’s what we needed to do in the second period,” Julien said. “But it’s hard to bring that when, again, the effort just wasn’t good enough tonight from most of our guys.”

One of the backbones of the Bruins during their 53-win campaign in 2008-09 was their physicality and hustle along the boards. Through three games, that same intensity has yet to come through on a consistent basis.

“They out-skated us and out-worked us,” captain Zdeno Chara said. “For sure we need to find out our niche and consistency and our 60-minute game. We can’t just be focused on our first 20 [minutes].”

“You’ve got to play for each other,” Julien said. “You can’t play for yourself. That means short shifts, that means good effort and that means doing what we did the other night against Carolina. You stick up for each other, you play for each other and you get the results.”

From the Freep: BU set to welcome US National U-18s

By Jake Seiner, Daily Free Press Staff

Saturday night, Agganis Arena will serve an unusual purpose for a sports venue:

Time travel.

Doc Brown need not worry –– this rip in the space-time continuum is temporary, and will only function as a platform for the past, present and future of Boston University men’s hockey.

A bit of history will precede Saturday’s contest with the U.S. National U-18 Team, as the No. 2/3 Terriers will raise the banner commemorating their 2008-09 national championship run at 6:30 p.m.

The game itself, set to start at 7 p.m., will pit the present-day Terriers against a few pieces of its future, as the U-18 squad brings with it a pair of future Terriers –– forward Matt Nieto and defenseman Adam Clendening, who have both verbally committed to BU for the 2010 season.

Nieto, highly regarded for his playmaking abilities, led the US National Team Development Program with 67 points (26 goals, 41 points) in 64 games last season. The winger from Long Beach, Calif., is, “an explosive skater and a gifted goal scorer and playmaker,” according to US Hockey Report.

Clendening, a Niagara Falls, N.Y. native, backed out of an initial commitment to Boston College earlier this year before verbally committing to BU this fall.

“Adam is a very competent player with good hockey sense,” U-18 coach Ron Rolston told USA Hockey earlier this year. “He is [a] good defender with his stick and makes it tough on other team’s forwards. He makes good decisions with the puck.”

Nieto and Clendening will find themselves lining up against four former-NTDP standouts in senior Luke Popko, junior captain Kevin Shattenkirk, junior Colby Cohen and sophomore David Warsofsky.

Colby Cohen back in lineup

Cohen, whose recovery from off-season hip surgery kept him out of last Saturday’s 2-2 tie against St. Francis Xavier University, will be back in the lineup for BU Saturday night.

BU coach Jack Parker expects Cohen’s hip will be at 100 percent for next week’s regular season kickoff at the University of Massachussets-Amherst.

“I think there’ll be some lingering effects psychologically, maybe,” Parker said. “Might even be a little [slowed] conditioning wise, but there’s no lingering effects . . . he’s better off than he was last year as far as the hip itself is concerned.”

Cohen’s ice time in the future will be determined by his performance Saturday night, Parker said.

Rollheiser will not dress Saturday

Parker entered the 2009-10 season with plans for a rotation at goal, likely centered between sophomores Kieran Millan and Grant Rollheiser.

Those plans were likely spoiled –– at least for the near future –– when Rollheiser suffered a high-ankle sprain shortly before the start of the season. Rollheiser, who went 6-4-1 with a 2.13 goals against average in 12 games (10 starts), is considered week-to-week at this point, according to Parker.

“It could be a month, or it could be three days,” Parker said about Rollheiser’s return.

From the FreeP: Reviewing the freshmen debuts

By Jake Seiner, DFP Staff

Terrier Nation had a lot to look forward to Saturday night as the defending national champion Boston University men’s hockey team took the ice for the first time since toppling Miami University in the national title game in April.

Chief among the things to see were the players who weren’t on the ice for that game in Washington D.C, as Saturday night’s 2-2 tie with St. Francis Xavier University offered BU fans their first look at BU coach Jack Parker’s latest crop of freshmen –– a group ranked as the sixth best incoming class in the country by Inside College Hockey.

Four of BU’s seven newcomers heard their names called in this summer’s NHL Entry Draft, with forward Alex Chiasson’s name coming first –– the St. Augustin, Que., native was selected in the second round (38th overall) by the Dallas Stars. Chiasson saw plenty of ice time playing on BU’s second line, centered by sophomore Corey Trivino and alongside senior Zach Cohen.

Chiasson was among the most productive Terriers on the ice, taking four shots including an isolated look against SFX freshman goaltender Joe Perricone in the first. Chiasson tried to beat Perricone top right, but didn’t appear to get the puck up to the top shelf, and the net-minder shoveled the shot to the far corner with his blocker with relative ease.

Additionally, Chiasson showcased his physicality, laying a strong hit on an SFX defender in the first, and his athleticism, using his speed to draw the first of three penalties late in the first that led to BU’s first goal.

Of all the freshmen, however, the most impressive performances came from the defensive corps, with Sean Escobedo, Max Nicastro and Ben Rosen all playing “very well,” by Parker’s account. All three proved responsible in the defensive end, and Parker noted that as a group, the threesome showed strong puck control throughout the game.

“They all kind of played up the style we thought they were,” Parker said. “Rosen’s a more clever guy with the puck . . . Escobedo’s a very physical defenseman and Nicastro’s a very, very physical defenseman.”

“I was actually really surprised at how well they played,” sophomore goaltender Kieran Millan said of the freshman blueliners. “Obviously, defense is a pretty tough position to adapt to at new speeds and new players coming in and faster forechecks. But they did a really good job, especially at using the time they had and making quick decisions and getting the puck out.

BU’s other three freshman forwards, Justin Courtnall, Wade Megan and Ryan Santana, rotated on the fourth line with sophomore Ross Gaudet, who did not dress for any games in 2008-09. All three showed positive flashes, as Megan led the way with four shots –– including three in the third period.

Additionally, Courtnall demonstrated his physical nature, throwing his 6-foot-3, 205-pound frame into numerous body checks.

Still, it was apparent the speed of the college game was causing some discomfort among the group. The fourth line missed its mark with a number of routine passes, and on more than one occasion a freshman forward was unprepared to receive a pass and let a potential scoring opportunity slip by as a result.

The defenders appeared more comfortable than the forwards, likely because the speed of the game was much different for the forwards and the defenders, Parker said.

“Every time our forward got a puck, there was a guy all over him,” Parker said. “Every time one of our defensemen got a puck, there wasn’t anyone all over him because they weren’t forechecking us that hard. They were just kind of sitting back with a one-man forecheck.

“Some of our freshman forwards didn’t quite have what will get to be a better feel for the speed of the game.”

From the FreeP: Terriers play to 2-2 tie with SFX

By Scott McLaughlin, DFP Staff

On paper, a 2-2 tie at home against St. Francis Xavier University is a disappointing way for the Boston University men’s hockey team to open its 2009-10 season. But as anyone who’s ever participated in an exhibition game will tell you, results aren’t the most important thing in the preseason. What actually happens in the game is.

And as is the case with most exhibition games, there were both positives and negatives for the Terriers to take away from Saturday night.

The most noticeable of these positives was the Terriers’ total domination in the shots category. BU outshot the X-Men, 53-16, including a 19-3 margin in the first period and an 18-3 margin in the third.

Unfortunately for the Terriers, X-Man goalie Joseph Perricone, who is in his first year at St. Francis Xavier after spending five seasons with the Moose Jaw Warriors of the Western Hockey League, stood on his head, making 51 saves and rarely getting caught out of position.

“I’m glad we didn’t get 53 shots on us,” BU coach Jack Parker said. “I thought their goalie played well. I thought we shot into him a lot, too, but he made some very nice saves.”

BU’s constant possession and consistent offensive pressure reached its climax with just under five minutes to go in the first when St. Francis Xavier took three penalties in just over a minute, culminating in a power-play goal for junior forward Nick Bonino.

After a Matthew Bragg hooking penalty, Rob Warner gave BU a 5-on-3 when he got called for cross-checking just four seconds into Bragg’s penalty. A minute and two seconds later, Josh Day took a slashing penalty.

The Terriers kept the puck in the zone for the full 3:22 (including two minutes of 5-on-3) they were on the power play, peppering Perricone with nine shots during that time. They finally found the back of the net when the rebound of freshman defenseman Ben Rosen’s slap shot found its way to Bonino on the right doorstep, where he buried it into the empty net.

Although they did find the back of net once, the Terriers missed a golden opportunity to put a crooked number on the scoreboard and completely deflate the X-Men’s spirits by failing to score during the 5-on-3. Instead, withstanding BU’s offensive firestorm proved to be a turning point in favor of St. Francis Xavier.

“We were lucky to get out of that with them just scoring one,” X-Man coach Brad Peddle said. “I think that re-energized our group, and in the second period, we came out and started playing much better.”

BU, on the other hand, started to get away from what had been so successful in the first ––throwing pucks into the crease and crashing the net in search of rebounds.

“One of the disappointing things, and I said this to my team, about the game was we appeared as if we wanted to make some pretty goals or some easy goals, and we didn’t really work hard enough to go get the four-foot goal,” Parker said. “We wanted to take the 25-foot shot or make the great pass, but in reality, goals are scored from two feet out most of the time, not 30 feet out.”

One of the few exceptions to this more lax approach was sophomore forward Corey Trivino’s goal with 4:10 left in the second. Freshman forward Alex Chiasson took the puck toward the front of the X-Man net from the left corner, but lost control before he could get a shot off. Luckily for the Terriers, though, Trivino gained control of the loose biscuit at the top of the slot and roofed it over a down-and-out Perricone to give BU a 2-1 lead.

But Perricone returned to brick-wall form in the third, saving all 18 shots he faced in the frame to keep his team in the game. The X-Men knotted the game at two with 2:41 left in regulation when junior goalie Adam Kraus failed to cover a bouncing puck and Bryce Swan managed to whack it past him to force the tie.

Missing players: Victor and Vinny Saponari, Colby Cohen and Grant Rollheiser were all inactive for the game. The Saponari brothers were away from the team to deal with a death in the family. Cohen was given an extra week to recover from offseason hip surgery. Parker said he “could’ve played, but we didn’t want to rush him back.” Rollheiser is recovering from a leg injury that is not believed to be serious.