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Bruins Notebook: Boston 4, New Jersey 3

by Tom Halkin / Boston Bruins
Well so much for that idea…

Most of the talk around the Hub this morning was of the Bruins vs. Devils match up being a defensive struggle or a goaltending duel.  With both teams coming off shutouts, and the Devils (and now Bruins) well known for their strong defensive systems, all signs pointed towards a tightly checked affair or at least a goaltending duel.  However, the teams came out of the gate firing. The Devil’s struck first, getting on the board just 4:26 into the game, before the Bruins responded with three unanswered goals to close out the first frame.

The teams would trade goals in the second, and New Jersey added another goal in the final stanza for a total of seven goals – four for the good guys in Black, and three for the Devils.

PJ’s big game
P.J. Axelsson has really turned it on.  His stellar three-point night (1-2-3) adds to his impressive totals of late, as the forward has now scored four goals in his last six games.

"I try to play the same game as I always do, some nights they go in,” said a humble Axelsson afterwards.

His coach is certainly not surprised by his recent success.

“I think he is a guy that has more skill than most people give him credit for,” said B's head coach Claude Julien.  “He has been putting points on the board, and also timely goals and plays.  He has made some great plays in pressure situations, which is what skill guys do.

"So he is definitely capable (of scoring).”

P.J. got the Bruins going when he tied the game at 1-1 mid-way through the first period.  Axelsson jumped on a loose puck in the slot, wheeled around and fired a shot over the shoulder of New Jersey goaltender Kevin Weekes.

Axelsson who is known for his great work as a penalty killer, grabbed his first assist when he helped the Bruins corral the puck in their own zone while on the kill, found Andrew Ference who fed a streaking Marco Sturm to finish the play.

The Swede pulled his second spin-o-rama later in the night. He gathered a loose puck by the blue-line, turned and riffled a shot at the net --  exactly where Marc Savard was stationed to tip the puck home.

“It was a nice goal by Savvy,” Axelsson said. “He has good hand-eye coordination."

Beyond his own individual efforts, Axelsson's new line combination, with P.J. on the left wing, Marc Savard at center, and Phil Kessel on the right have been playing very well since being combined. And the group's efforts are starting to show-up on the score sheet more and more.

"We have been able to play well (together), and tonight we got some more results, which is what we are looking for, so hopefully we will be able to continue," Savard said after the win.

Sturm comes up big
Bruins forward Marco Sturm, goalless in his last eight games (dating back to December 20th), made a great individual effort to score a key short-handed goal for the Bruins in the final moment of the first period. 

Sturm was sent on a breakaway by Andrew Ferrence who found him with a long pass to the neutral zone, and after missing the net when his original bid sailed high, he collected his own rebound and stuffed it through the New Jersey goalie. The goal was his 12th of the season, and the Bruins fourth short-handed marker on the year – Sturm’s first.

Metro tries out for goalie
In the waning seconds of the game the, with their goalie pulled, the Devils began a last-ditch, desperation effort to tie the game -- and it almost worked. 

The resulting mad scramble in front of the Bruins net resulted in some anxious moments for the guys in black and gold. Luckily, however, veteran forward Glen Metropolit was able to lend a hand – eh, rather his entire body, to protect the net.

While the scrum ensued, Metropolit, who found himself behind Tim Thomas, lay sprawled out along the goal line and was able to block at least one attempt to literally save the day.

"I got caught behind Timmy there, so it was like back to the old roller hockey days," said Metro afterwards. "It seemed like the puck was everywhere, so it was just put your body in front of it, and see what you can do.

"It happened so fast, you (want to) put your body on that side where Timmy is not.”

“It probably looked pretty funny, but, oh well, it worked,” he added with a laugh.

Of course the forward had some high praise for his netminder, who also made a few key saves, too. Thomas made 42 stops, in fact.

"Timmy held the fort there good too," said Metro with a hockey player's grin.

I thought we were watching hockey?
On New Jersey’s first goal, forward Dainus Zubrus looked more like a Major League Baseball player when he whacked the puck into the net out of the air with a swing of his stick.  The goal was reviewed to make sure Mr. Zubrus’s stick remained below the level of the cross-bar, and was upheld.

Sportsmanship points for Savvy
Marc Savard, still trying for a tip even after PJ Axelson’s shot had found the twine, accidentally whacked New Jersey goalie Kevin Weekes in the helmet. Savvy, realizing his mistake, looked to apologize to the goalie before he celebrated with his teammates.
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