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Game Day: Bruins @ Capitals

by John Bishop / Boston Bruins

Bruins 0 1 0-1

Capitals 0 1 1-2

First Period - None.

Second Period - 1, Boston, Savard 16 (power play) (Chuck Kobasew, Zdeno Chara), 1:49. 2, Washington, Green (power play) (Michael Nylander, Brooks Laich), 2:59.

Third Period - 3, Washington, Semin (unassisted), 11:48.

Shots on Goal - Boston 5-9-10-24. Washington 7-10-13-30.

Goalies - Boston, Thomas. Washington, Theodore. A - 18,277. T - 2:12.

0:00 - Boston falls. 2-1.

1:08 - Thomas is out...

1:41 - Theodore "Statue of Liberties" his latest save. But Erskine is going to the box. Boston will end regulation on a power play.

3:12 - Pad save Theo on Sobotka.

5:54 - Timmy with a shoulder stop through a crowd.

7:06 - Krejci bottles up the Caps...

8:00 - Wideman in the box. Slashing.

8:12 - Washington goes back the other way and Semin beats Thomas over the glove. A bad, bad turn of events. The Caps lead, 2-1.

8:15 - Diving stick check by Jurcina stops a Bruins two-on-one.

10:35 - Icing Wash.

12:51 - Ovechkin fans again. Same play. Plenty of space between Thomas and the post.

14:44 - Tripping, Savard. A big kill for Boston.

16:46 - Thomas pounces on another rebound while fighting a Washington stick. By the way, Senator John Kerry is here to watch the Bruins.

16:50 - Thomas holds on to a rebound to reset.

18:45 - Ryder with a shot on Theodore, who has to make a tough pad save.

20:00 - Start of the Third.
0:00 - An entertaining period. However, the Bruins have not yet played their best game. It will be interesting to see how Coach Julien adjusts during the third.

29.4 - Wides went to the room early...

1:16 - Ovechkin knees Wideman. He stuck his leg on on Wides, who seems fine. But it was a dangerous play. It's four-on-four.

1:54 - Tripping Savard.

2:36 - Tim with another nice save -- left pad -- off of Semin, who shot off balance and through a crowd.

4:19 - Thomas flags down Washington's latest. Shots are 15-13, Caps.

6:36 - Ryder with a tough wrister...Theo is there.

8:34 - Thomas does the same after he was bowled over in his crease and after a solid scoring chance by Washington.

9:36 - A tremendous flurry by Boston. Almost an minutes worth of possession is stopped by Theodore when he held on to a save for the whistle.

11:10 - Ovechkin fanned on a shot to Timmy's right. A very lucky break for the B's...

12:18 - Theodore with another glove save.

13:45 - Hunwick crunches Schultz with a big hit.

14:23 - Thomas holds on to his latest save to calm things down...

15:42 - Two big saves for Thomas. A good bounce back for Boston.

17:01 - Ouch. Green scores, over Thomas' shoulder, to make the score 1-1.

17:18 - Lashoff to the box for holding.

18:11 - Savard scores, with authority. His 16th of the season, a blocked shot came to him and he buried it. Nice goal. Boston leads, 1-0. Give assists to Chara and Kobasew.

18:40 - Jurcina is in the box for holding. Boston is 0/1 on the PP.

18:51 - Save Theodore.

18:56 - Boston touches up for a Washington icing.

20:00 - Start of the Second.
0:00 - End of the First. Washington had the better period, but only outshot the B's 7-5.

27.1 - Savard with Boston's best chance of the night, but Theodore catches it in his chest.

1:05 - A tough offsides for Wash.

3:26 - Thomas stops Ovechkin and had the Capital forward shaking his head

5:00 - Laich and Co. keep the B's bottled up...

5:47 - A big pile up in front of Theodore. Some shoving, no penalties...

6:41 - Backstrom is in the box for roughing. Boston's first PP.

6:57 - Ovechkin was this close from a breakaway, but his shot gets put into the big net above the boards.

8:11 - The puck comes back the other way and after a shot goes wide of Thomas' goal, he hops on the rebound off the endboards.

8:23 - Theo with another save.

11:17 - Ferh snaps a wrist shot through traffic that Thomas stops with his glove. Shots are 4-3, Caps.

12:40 - Kobasew was very close. With a wide open net, he just couldn't get a handle on the puck in front.

13:52 - An excuse me save by Theodore. Krejci deflected the puck right into Theo's glove...

15:13 - A terrific kill for Boston...

15:55 - A really good chance for Washington is thwarted when the puck gets caught up in a player's pads right in front of Tim and the play is called dead.

17:36 - Nokelainen in the box for interference. Washington's first PP.

18:32 - Thomas with his first save against Ovechkin.

19:50 - Boston won the draw, but earns an early icing.

20:00 - Start of the First Period.

Boston Starters: Chara, Wideman, Axelsson, Savard, Kobasew, Thomas
Washington Starters: Erskine, Green, Semin, Federov, Fleischmann, Theodore

Let's switch to time on the clock...

7:01 p.m.
Boston Bruins defenseman Matt Lashoff, left, is congratulated by teammate Boston Bruins left wing Marco Sturm. (AP Photo/Adam Hunger)
Matt Lashoff spoke to the excitement surrounding tonight's game.

"It's a cool thing, because you have two teams who have such a good time playing, and both have guys on the team that are obviously more well-known guys throughout the league," said the defenseman. "But they share that enthusiasm with the rest of the team, and it makes everybody want to have a good time playing.

"Those are the games that are fun to watch – the ones where you know the people are the ice are having a good time playing and just working really hard,'s going to be a good test for us, but it's going to be a lot of fun, too."

Petteri Nokelainen agreed and spoke of the challenge of facing Ovechkin.

"I think everybody knows that he's obviously a great player -- probably the best player right now in the league," said Nokelainen.  "You just have respect his skill, and, like every other skilled player, if you try to take their space and time away, that's going to help a lot.

"But's only one guy, and you have to approach the team."

And that team is deep.

"If you look at the lineup, you look at their forwards, three lines, great forwards, great offensively, every guy," said Nokelainen. "[Michael] Nylander is their third line center, so that tells you a lot about the team.

"It's obviously a great team with great skill.  [Nicklas] Backstrom, a young guy, is one of the best passers in the league.  We really have to be ready for their forwards and know that they're going to be skilled and know that whenever they get a chance, they're going to bury it.  We have to take our turnovers away and keep it simple."

Lashoff talked about the game as if it were the latest test for the B's.

"Yeah, I think that's the thing, and the enthusiasm [Ovechkin] comes with to the game -- that just gets everybody that much more jacked up to play, and they're having a lot of fun," said Lashoff. "You can tell with the style of game they play.

"It's a fun thing to see and a fun thing to watch, but it's also a really, really good test for us -- with us being able to have a really gritty team, but also a skilled team, at that.  It's good for us to be able to test ourselves, to be able to push ourselves to that limit, and not give those guys the time or the space that they want to work with."

6:42 p.m.
The lines...
Axelsson - Savard - Kobasew
Wheeler - Krejci - Ryder
Nokelainen - Yelle - Bitz
Sobotka - St. Pierre - Thornton
Stuart - Chara
Lashoff - Wideman
Hunwick - Hnidy

Bergeron, Ference, Lucic, Ward

6:29 p.m.
It looks like Thomas vs. Theodore in goal.

6:16 p.m.
Boston Bruins defenseman Zdeno Chara (33) checks Montreal Canadiens left wing Sergei Kostitsyn, left, away from the goal in the second period of an NHL hockey game in Boston on Tuesday, Jan. 13, 2009. The Bruins won 3-1. (AP Photo/Elise Amendola)
Ovechkin's presence was, of course, I major topic of conversation today.
"It's probably easier for a defenseman to have longer shifts than it is for a forward; they seem to have to skate a little more," said Julien when asked about the length of Ovechkin's shifts for Washington. "We know our guy Zee [Zedeno Chara] is capable of logging the amount of ice time we give him.

"It's never been an issue, but...I think it's how we play them as a group out there.  He loves to pull up, and our back pressure's got to be good tonight, and we have to take away his time and space.

"At the same time, Zee doing a great job against some of their top players and other guys.  We've had some pairings there that have done some decent jobs against other players as well, so...if he wants to stretch his shifts, I don't think it's a big issue; we've got guys to neutralize that.  At the same time, he's also not necessarily as efficient at the end of his shift as he is at the beginning.
Washington's ability to stretch out defenses is well known, and is also something that the B's feel they are capable of handling.

"I think it was tougher for us last year; we played a real tight style of play, and last year, when they were spreading us out, they were one of the teams, Montreal was another, that spread us out quite a bit," said Julien. "We made those adjustments, and it's been a little better.

It's the same thing – if we make that adjustment properly, we're also a team that can stretch other teams out now, and I think that's how we're looking at.

"It's about support.  When teams like that are stretching out, you need to make sure you've got some good back pressure on the offensive side.  The way they do their neutral zone forechecking, you run out of space quickly, and it's important that you have good support and good shifts tonight."

5:58 p.m.
Washington Capitals' Alex Ovechkin (8), of Russia, celebrates the second of his two third-period goals during an NHL hockey game against the Pittsburgh Penguins in Pittsburgh on Wednesday, Jan. 14, 2009. The Capitals won 6-3. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)
Coach Julien also spoke about the Capitals and where they find themselves at midseason.

"They seem to be going through a lot of the same things we are," explained Julien. "There's guys that are in and out, and they've still got a few injuries, and we're even not quite sure about their real lineup tonight.

"More than anything, I think it's really about focusing on us right now because of the fact that we played, I thought, a great game against Montreal, and then we faltered a little bit in our last game, and we just have to bounce back again with a good effort."

There was as bit of a playoffesque atmosphere around the Bruins locker room and Coach was asked if the thought the Bruins would bring the best out of his team.
"I should hope so," he said. "I should think so because they're first in their division, and they're a good team, right up there in the standings.

"They've obviously taken to the challenge, just from reading some stuff, of playing top teams in our [conference, hard] -- whether it's been Montreal, or other teams like New Jersey, Philadelphia -- they're really taking this as a good challenge as well.

"I would hope we would take that same approach and see that challenge as one of us being the top in our division and them being the top in theirs."

5:13 p.m.
Boston Bruins' Milan Lucic (17) bumps chests goalie Manny Fernandez after the Bruins defeated the Pittsburgh Penguins 4-2 in a hockey game in Boston, Thursday, Jan. 1, 2009. (AP Photo/Winslow Townson)
Coach Julien was pretty forthcoming about the health of Milan Lucic, Andrew Ference and Aaron Ward -- at least in terms of a timetable for their return.

"No, we're not going to play him tonight," said Julien of Lucic. " I said that the other day, we're going to make sure he's 100%, and right now he's not quite 100%.

"It's getting pretty close. If you see him, you wouldn't know [he's injured] by just watching him in practice.

"But we've taken that approach...and we've got to try to get some guys back at 100%," he said.

As for Aaron and Andrew -- they are also getting ever closer.

"[Andrew] Ference is in that same situation," said Julien.  "So, he's going to miss out on this one.
"[And Ward's] been skating as well, and he's in [physical] therapy and everything else.

"So, if everything goes well, he might be a possibility for Monday's game.

"Luch is a day-to-day.  I wouldn't write any of those guys out, but, again, when we make that decision, I need to know that they're 100% and that's what we've decided to do here," he said.

2:11 p.m.

Boston Bruins' Blake Wheeler (26) shoots around St. Louis Blues' Manny Legace, center, to score his second goal of the first period as the Blues' Brad Boyes (22) looks on in an NHL hockey game Sunday, Dec. 21, 2008, in St. Louis. (AP Photo/Bill Boyce)
Well here’s all the news that’s fit to print...

The B’s had an optional this morning and Manny Fernandez, Andrew Ference, Byron Bitz, Vladimir Sobotka, Blake Wheeler, Matt Lashoff, Petteri Nokelainen, Milan Lucic, Martin St. Pierre, Matt Hunwick, Patrice Bergeron, Tim Thomas and David Krejci were the men on the ice.

Tim Thomas was the first goalie off, so you can make of that what you will.

While the small group was still on the ice, Bruins head coach Claude Julien spoke to the media.

“[We’ve] always had good games against this team, and they're obviously a hard team to beat in their home building,” said Julien.  “We've had some good battles here, and we've had some battles that were pretty painful, such as last year.

“But we weren't very pleased with our last game and the way we played and I think it's important that we bounce back with a good effort tonight.  So there are a lot of reasons here to want to try and play well and win this game.”

Not to mention that the Bruins remain in first place overall in the NHL – just one point up on the San Jose Sharks (who own a game in hand on the Bruins).

BTW: Lucic, Ference and Bergeron will not play. Lucic and Aaron Ward, who has been skating back home are day-to-day and their return seems imminent. But Coach Julien does not want to return any of his injured players to the lineup until they are 100%.
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