After a dismal outing Thursday night, Claude Julien skated the boys hard Friday to emphasize the team needing to put forth a much better effort for the Islanders tonight. It didn't work. Coach Julien did replace the defending Vezina Trophy winner, Tim Thomas with Tuukka Rask. That sort of worked. The team in general lacked discipline and during a penalty filled first period, Rask played taller than even Zdeno Chara. Tuukka was great in the first but but he wasn't perfect.
The Bruins were outshot in that first period by a wide 16-7 margin mostly because of the four penalties they took along the way. Rask, who hasn't seen game action in over two weeks, admmitted the barage of Islander shots wore him out early. “The first period was kind of tough. I felt I lost a lot of energy there and going into the second period I kind of felt a little fatigued, but I battled through it and the score was good for us. Well, I mean, I haven’t played for a long time. Sixteen shots on net and you lose a lot of fluid from your body, so… that’s something you get used to when you play a lot. When you don’t play so much it’s different.”
One of the penalties in that first period, I give Andrew Ference full marks for taking. As a pass was reaching Marc Savard, he was hit from an angle from behind. It definitely wasn't right from behind, kind of the side, kind of the back but Savvy was hit into the boards before he received the puck. Ference didn't hesitate and immediately started swinging punches on Sean Bergenheim. Ference was the only one called but I thought there could have been an inteference call on the Savard hit.
The second period was brutal. Three goals on nine shots for New York and a little help from the Bruins. To get things started, I thought the B's had a bad line change and New York easily gained the offensive zone. Once they were set up, Kyle Okposo made a cross ice pass to Rob Schremp. Schremp's shot on goal was saved by Rask but he left a rebound for Jon Sim parked at the top of the crease. Sim made a quick move and buried a shot past Rask for a 1-0 Islander lead.
Radem Martinek doubled the fun for New York with 7:17 left in the second period. While controlling the puck in the Boston zone, Martinek was camped to Rask's left and took a cross ice pass, settled it and whipped one, short side high over the cathcing glove. Rask admitted to me that, “that second goal, I think I went down too early and he found a hole there…”
Later, the Bruins were uncharacteristically generous. The fourth line, sadly, has been the team's best line but made a big mistake tonight. Shawn Thornton carried the puck up the wing and after gaining the offensive blueline, tried a drop pass to Chara but missed his target. Freddy Meyer, poked the loose
puck up to the #1 overall draft pick last spring, John Tavares who dashed up his right wing and beat Rask, short side, high to the glove side. It was a beauty of a shot. One on one with the goalie, no screen and he ripped it past Rask.
The third period wasn't much to write home about until there was eight minutes left in the game. With the boys increasing the pressure as time began to dwindle, Marc Savard started the comeback. Chara was the key to the play as he pinched at the line and combined with Savard and Lucic. Savard, from behind the net, hit Chara in the slot who misfired and then desperately whacked a backhand pass to Savard at the right wing circle. Savvy ripped a wrist shot high over Roloson to bring some life to the Garden crowd.
Less than four minutes later, it was the fourth line “making up” for their error in the second period. Steve Begin hit Byron Bitz on a cross ice, wing to wing pass where Bitzy gained the line, deked the defenseman and once he was in the slot, flipped a backhand past Roloson. This one was reviewed as the Isles thought Shawn Thornton intefered with the goalie. Thornton was bumped into Roloson but the contact was clearly after the puck went into the net so the goal stood. I can't describe this goal and give it, it's proper justice. When asked about the deke and putting the puck between his legs, all Bitzy would say is, “Never, that’s not my game, but it just happened to work and that’s something that I am not going to make a habit of. I lost it and managed to protect it again, fired it on net and it went in.”
Less than two minutes later, Matt Hunwick floated a wrist shot through traffic that Roloson never saw as he didn't move his catching mitt until after the puck was past him. The B's were pressing and after Hunwick kept the puck in at the line, he slid over to his left towards the boards to “I just tried to give myself a good angle to the net and wristed it through, and there was plenty of traffic with our guys and their guys and the goalie I guess had no chance, didn’t see it and lucky enough it didn’t sail over the net.”
Both teams had good chances to end it during the overtime period but the goalies were up for the task so it went to a shootout. In particular, Rask stopped Schremp at the doorstep with 2:13 to go.
The Bruins started shootout with Blake Wheeler stick handling and going 5 hole on Roloson. New York answered with Schremp stuffing a backhander just past Rask.
Bergeron flew in on Roloson and rang the dinner bell, stick side but the puck stayed out of the net. Rask stopped Richard Park with the glove to keep the shootout tied 1-1.
Marc Savard started the comeback and fittingly, ended it as the final Bruin shooter. He came in wide, on the right wing, faked a shot that Roloson bit and went to the backhander. By the time he shot the puck, Roloson was sliding on his belly into the far post and Savvy had nothing but net for his backhander to hit. It was up to Rask to stop Kyle Okposo. Okposo stickhandled but Rask never budged and when he finally went to the backhander, all he had to shoot at was Rask's big, white, fluffy leg pad. Game over, Bruins win. Rask was so excited he was looking to hug anyone as he spread his arms wide, turned and looked behind his net, then to his right and finally to his left as the boys mobbed him in the celebration.
Tonight was the opposite of the Washington and Anaheim games. In those games, the B's started out fast only to wimper to the finish line. Tonight, the B's wimpered for the first 50 minutes and finished fast. While Rask played well, I wasn't too happy with his rebound control as he left several pucks in excellent shooting positions for New York. He also gave up two goals high to the glove side. Something he'll have to work on more. The Bruins second and third lines are going to have to start producing. Guys like Recchi, Kobasew and Wheeler have to get it in gear. They can't rely on Savard, Lucic and Sturm to be the answer every night. That was their key last season as it was someone new every night.
Dennis Wideman was checked and landed awkwardly into the boards tonight. It looked like he was trying not to move his shoulder as he left the ice. Look for Johnny Boychuk to make his season debut Monday afternoon against Colorado. The final five defensemen played great as it seemed that they never played with the same partner twice.
Tonight's three stars
1 – Savard – Game winner in the shootout, got it started on the scoreboard for the B's
2- Tavares – Goal and an assist for the visitors. You can see why he was the #1 overall pick
3 – Hunwick – Game tying goal late in the third period to go with an assist.
Next up – Colorado Avalanche on Monday afternoon.
About the Author
Written by Jim Mulligan