The Bruins are rolling right now. Having taken points in seven straight games (6-0-1), they once again, leap frogged back into first place in the Northeast Division.
Tonight the special teams and Tim Thomas were the main contributors in a 4-1 win over the Tampa Bay Lightning. The power play started the scoring when Marc Savard's backhand pass to Michael Ryder was deflected in off the skate of Tampa defenseman, Lukas Krajicek. It was a big day for Savard with the announcement of his 7 year / $28 million dollar contract extension then coming to work and potting his 200th career NHL goal. Afterwards, Savard was asked about his big day, “Yeah it felt good. You know the Bruins are obviously putting a lot of faith in me and I can’t reward it all in one night but that felt good for sure.”
Patrice Bergeron, who has been the best, most consistant Bruin all season scored the next one for the Bruins. Bergeron outworked Steven Stankos behind the net, moved the puck to the point and got to the front of the net. He picked up the rebound of Zdeno Chara's point shot and beat Mike Smith on the ice, just inside the post.
Quite possibly, the turning point of the night was just eleven seconds later. Off the draw, Alex Tanguay skated down the left wing. The Bruins had a defensive breakdown allowing Jeff Halpern to come to the post on the left side uncovered. Tanguay's pass was maybe a little to hot for Halpern so the time he took to corral the puck was just enough for Thomas to dive across the crease. Thomas flopped across, made the glove save an landed on his stomach in the process. When asked about the save, “Yeah, actually I, the guy who made the pass, got himself in such a good position that I had to respect his shot so when he passed it over I was in a position where it was hard to get over to Jeff Halpern, but especially earlier in the game I wanted to do anything I could to come up with a save to keep us in the lead.”
In the second period, the Bruins recalled the lessons of last season. They took the 2-0 lead and firmly put their foot on the Lightning throats and doubled the lead. Marco Sturm, who was the games first star, scored both goals in the middle frame. The first one was off of a goalmouth scramble where Mark Recchi was also fighting to jam the puck home. It reminded me of the Zach Parise goal the Devils scored last Friday against the Bruins. Both Recchi and Sturm were at the top of the crease doing the dirty work that has been missing for much of the season.
Two and a half minutes later, it was Sturm tapping home the final Bruin goal of the night. On the forecheck, Mark Recchi took the body of the Tamp defenseman freeing the puck. Patrice Bergeron cut in from the right wing and passed across the crease to a streaking Sturm. All Marco had to do was tap in the puck into the open far side as Mike Smith had to respect Bergeron's shooting angle.
The Bruins clamped down defensively in the third but did allow one Lightning goal. Jeff Halpern put in a rebound on his own shot to ruin Thomas' bid for his fourth shutout this year.
As I said earlier, the special teams were very good for the Bruins. They were a perfect 6-6 on the penalty kill and a solid 1-3 on the power play.
It's an “all Canada” weekend coming up for the Bruins. More than that, it's a huge divisional weekend. Friday night, the B's are in Montreal for an unusual 8:00PM start time at the Bell Centre. Friday is the official 100th anniversary for the bleu, blanc et rouge. There will be a ceremony starting at 6:30 and will last almost 90 minutes thus the 8:00PM start time. Saturday should be a fun, festive atmosphere back at the TD Garden. Ex Bruin, Phil “I don't want to play in Boston” Kessel will be making his Boston return wearing the blue and white of the Toronto Maple Leafs.
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Written by Jim Mulligan