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Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Bruins start to get back on track with win vs. the Devils

The Boston Bruins had picked a fine time to play their worst hockey of the season. With a three-game homestand kicking off their final 11 regular season games, last night was a nice start towards gaining home ice advantage for the playoffs (and winning the Northeast Division) as they beat the New Jersey Devils 4-1 at the TD Garden.

It was only Boston's (40-22-10) second win in their last eight games but when coupled with Montreal's loss to Buffalo, the Bruins now lead the Canadiens by three points.

New Jersey (34-35-4) had been playing some crazy good hockey since an awful start but with this setback, they're likely to miss out on the playoffs.

Ilya Kovalchuk gave the Devils a 1-0 lead with a power-play goal at 11:05 of the first period. His textbook one-timer (assists to Mattias Tedenby and Jacob Josefson) was his 27th goal of the season.

From there, Boston's best players: Tim Thomas, Zdeno Chara, Milan Lucic, Tomas Kaberle, Patrice Bergeron and Co. woke up and started to resemble the team that has been so consistent all season (no losing streak longer than two games).

Shawn Thornton tied it up at 15:39 of the first period, scoring his career-high ninth goal of the season off a deflection (from Dennis Seidenberg and Kaberle) in front of New Jersey goaltender Martin Brodeur (26 saves).

Thomas helped the Bruins find their sea legs as they were badly outplayed in the first period (Devils outshot them 16-6 in the first period). They were inspired in the second period (17-8 shots for Boston) and it showed on the scoreboard.

Chara put the Bs ahead for good in the second period at 8:17 with the rarest of goals for Boston: that's right, a power-play strike. Chara's 13th of the season (his 400th career point) was thanks to a nice backdoor pass from Lucic (Kaberle had the other assist). It's amazing what a little movement will do on our painfully predictable power play.

Thomas (30 saves; 30-10-8) did his best to keep it 2-1 and his teammates finally gave him a little breathing room as Lucic scored his 30th goal of the season at 16:13. Bergeron made the play with a sweet backhand feed to Lucic in front, Chara had the second assist.

Mark Recchi iced it with an empty-netter (his 13th goal of the season) with 40 seconds remaining. Bergeron and Chara assisted on that one.

Tomorrow night at TD Garden is the final regular season meeting between the Bruins and Canadiens. Last time out was a shitshow of epic proportions with Chara's hit, Max Pacioretty's injury and Montreal fans calling 911. I would like nothing more than to see the Bruins play well and beat the Canadiens since the last two seasons, Montreal has had their number. They can't get suckered into playing Montreal's weasel style.

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