Tuesday, March 27, 2012
The Black And Gold Are Finally Playing Well, At Just The Right Time
With the playoffs only two weeks away, the Boston Bruins are finally starting to resemble the dominant team from earlier in the season and of course during last spring's Stanley Cup run.
It had been three months since the B's (45-28-3) had won three games in a row but that's what they accomplished tonight as they beat the Lightning (35-34-7) 5-2 at TD Garden.
The season series ended 2-2 and there will be no Eastern Conference Finals rematch between these teams this May since Tampa Bay is all but guaranteed to miss out on the playoffs. The Bruins on the other hand have won five out of their last six and they look like they'll win the Northeast Division and grab the No. 2 seed in the Eastern Conference.
Fittingly on a night when the B's honored captain Zdeno Chara for his 1000th game (this being his 1002nd, he was in LA for the 1000th), he made it particularly memorable as he had three assists.
Five different Bruins scored goals and Tim Thomas (16 saves; 33-19-0) had an easy night except for two more goals by superstar Steven Stamkos.
Tampa Bay actually led 1-0 as Stamkos (54th of the season) took advantage of a Boston giveaway and snapped one past Thomas 5:03 into the first. UVM alum Martin St. Louis had the assist.
It didn't take the Bruins long to tie it up as enforcer Shawn Thornton (5th of the season) showed that he can score the occasional goal. Chara made a nice move to the net and Thornton was there for the rebound at 10:54.
Another unlikely goal-scorer for the B's stepped up as Dennis Seidenberg (4th of the season) made quick work of another juicy Dwayne Roloson (33 saves for the ex-UMass-Lowell River Hawk) rebound at 15:05 of the second. Chara and David Krejci had the assists.
Stamkos earned a bogus power-play as he went down a little too easily and Johnny Boychuk got called for a tripping penalty. Stamkos tied it at 2 just 5:46 into the third. Victor Hedman and St. Louis assisted on Stamkos' rocket one-timer.
Boston had enough so they pumped in three goals in the last 8:30 of the third. Benoit Pouliot (14th of the season) had the go-ahead tally at 11:34 thanks to a nice wraparound pass from Brian Rolston. Chara had the second assist.
Brad Marchand (26th of the season, tying Tyler Seguin for the team lead) put it away at 15:50 after Patrice Bergeron passed it to him then set a perfect screen on Roloson. Seguin had the other assist.
Rich Peverely (10th of the season) rounded out the scoring with an empty-netter from Krejci when seven seconds remained. It was a nice reward for a good performance from him, only his second game back after missing 19 with a knee injury.
Temporarily stuck in ninth place in the East, the Washington Capitals will be here on Thursday. They are 2-1 against the Black and Gold this season including a 4-3 win on March 10 in DC (which kicked off Boston's four-game losing streak). The Bruins will need to bring this same type of intensity and full team effort that they demonstrated tonight if they want to beat the Caps.