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Thursday, April 7, 2011

The Bruins are ready for the playoffs (please don't let lightning strike me for saying that)

One of Bruins coach Claude Julien's most annoying habits is overplaying his fourth line. There's nothing he enjoys more than giving too much ice time to guys with plenty of heart but limited skills. It's one thing to do that in the regular season which is a marathon but when you get to the playoffs, you have to ride your big guns that got you there.

With that said, it was ironic that last night, Boston's fourth line of Gregory Campbell, Shawn Thornton and Daniel Paille carried the team as they beat the New York Islanders 3-2 at TD Garden.

Campbell (assist) and Thornton had goals while Paille had an assist. They brought energy to a team that was mostly biding their time until the playoffs start (likely in a week).

The win brought a couple nice milestones as the Bruins (45-24-11) went over 100 points (currently 101) while Thornton reached 10 goals for the first time in his career. Boston is still in third place in the Eastern Conference but they're only two points behind Philadelphia (both have two games left).

For the Islanders (30-38-12), rookie Michael Grabner had a pair of goals: shorthanded and on the power-play but the erratic play of Winthrop's own Rick DiPietro (30 saves) sealed another loss in a NHL lottery bound season.

Tim Thomas made 30 saves in the win, improving to 34-11-9.

Thornton gave Boston a 1-0 lead as he scored with 0.1 seconds left in the first period. It was his first game back since getting 40 stitches against the Blackhawks last week. Paille and Campbell assisted with Thornton cleaning up a rebound in front of DiPietro (who sported an old school mask) and beating the clock.

Grabner tied it up with the power-play snipe (his 32nd overall) at 3:24 of the second period from Blake Comeau and DiPietro.

Dennis Seidenberg put the Bs up 2-1 at 7:51 of the second period with a blast from the point. Chris Kelly and Rich Peverley assisted.

Campbell made it 3-1 just over a minute later with his 13th goal of the season. Adam McQuaid and Tomas Kaberle assisted on Campbell's shot that DiPietro would probably like to have back. It wasn't a strong shot but it snuck under DiPietro's pads.

Grabner kept it interesting with his shorthanded tally at 14:26 of the second period. Josh Bailey and Ty Wishart assisted as Grabner was first to the puck and raced in alone on a breakaway before roofing it over Thomas with a backhander.

After a couple days off, the Bruins host the Ottawa Senators on Saturday afternoon in their regular season home finale and then wrap up the regular season on Sunday afternoon in New Jersey.

The lineups will be shuffled with Thomas, Zdeno Chara, Mark Recchi, etc. all more than deserving of some rest before the playoffs start.

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