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Game Day: Canadiens vs. Bruins

by John Bishop / Boston Bruins
Montréal  0 4 0 0 4

Boston     1 2 1 1 5

MTL:  Kovalev, A. (PPG, 01:25 in 2nd), D'Agostini, M. (PPG, 07:27 in 2nd), Schneider, M. (PPG, 10:28 in 2nd), D'Agostini, M. (16:53 in 2nd)
BOS:  Bergeron, P. (17:58 in 1st), Kessel, P. (03:12 in 2nd), Recchi, M. (PPG, 05:30 in 2nd), Chara, Z. (PPG, 05:27 in 3rd), Recchi, M. (02:42 in OT)
2:18 - Recchi, from Bergeron, Boston wins!

2:35 - Icing Montreal.

3:45 - Montador got the puck out of the box and shot high on a breakaway. He just missed the corner.

4:29 - Save Thomas, clear.

5:00 - Start of Overtime. Four-on-four.
0:00 - Overtime. With the point, the Canadiens are in the playoffs.

1:01 - Montador penalty.

1:50 - Hunwick touches up for a Montreal icing.

2:35 - Ball hockey save by Thomas on Kovalev.

3:37 - Save Thomas.

3:40 - Thomas picks up the puck and holds on for a faceoff.

4:23 - Bitz popped Gorges.

5:05 - Save Thomas. Phew.

5:36 - Offside, Boston.

5:43 - Thomas hangs on to the latest shot. Faceoff.

5:59 - Snow angel by Thomas prevents a goal, but the puck stays live...

6:57 - Ward is back on the ice.

9:37 - Save Price. He holds on.

9:48 - Ward caught a stick up high -- in the throad -- and the B's should get a PP. Ward leaves the ice under his own power. No penalty.

10:30 - Icing Montreal.

10:52 - Another save by Thomas.

11:13 - Save Thomas on a Kostitsyn.

13:56 - Broken glass. Delay.

14:33 - Hard work. Controlled hockey. Goal. Zdeno Chara picked up the trash and put it away. A loose puck off of a Recchi shot ended up on the captain's stick and he put it over Price to tie the game at 4-4. Outstanding. Assists to Recchi and Savard.

15:13 - Dandenault shot the puck out of play. Delay of game. B's PP is 1/3.

15:43 - Icing Montreal.

17:37 - Icing Boston.

18:17 - Icing Montreal.

18:41 - Save Thomas.

18:53 - A couple of saves by Price. And a very, very  near miss for Boston.

19:16 - Save Thomas.

20:00 - Start of the Third. Hang on to your hats. BTW: We're sold out.
Second Period Recap: War and Peace II. Montreal leads 4-3.
0:00 - End of the Second. Thank goodness.

7.2 - Save Thomas, but just barely.

1:10 - Hnidy missed an offsides call. And we've got another pile up. A big pile up. Komisarek and Thornton both get roughing minors.

3:07 - Give them credit. The Habs came all the way back to take a 4-3 lead. D'Agostini beat Thomas stick side low for a goal that Tim will certainly want back when he sees it. There's lots of time, of course. But the Canadiens have taken all of the momentum back. Beyond that, they lead in shots 21-18. An unassisted goal for D'Agostini, who has two on the night.

3:36 - Ryder just missed on the B's latest bid. Very close.

4:01 - Sloppy...

5:38 - One heck of a Thomas-like save by Price, who dove across his crease to grab a loose puck. He held on for the draw.

6:34 - A close call. Too much work for Tim.

7:43 - Save Thomas...

8:37 - Icing Canadiens.

9:32 - It's tied up. Schneider used two Bruins as a screen and beat Thomas. It's 3-3 and a whole new hockey game.

9:54 - Outstanding work by Krejci and Wheeler on the PK...

11:48 - A vicious hit by Komisarek on Lucic leads to another pile up. Thornton was in there, Bitz, and everyone is yelling at everyone. A true throwback game. Lucic just went to the dressing room -- not hurt. Maybe third man? Looks like the Habs get a PP. Luch got a 10-minute misconduct and four minutes, which gives the Canadiens a four minute man-advantage.

12:33 - With Plekanec squarely in front of Thomas, D'Agostini beat Thomas to make the score 3-2. It was a power play goal.

12:55 - Tanguay puts a shot on Timmy, finally, and Thomas hangs on for the faceoff.

13:54 - Time Warp. We are in the 1970's and the Big Bad Bruins are back. There is not enough room in the penalty box. Which, in the long run, may not be so hot for the B's, but hey, the fans are into it. What a show. A pile up in front led to everyone taking a dance partner and having a waltz. Wow. Again, what a mess. Lucic gets an extra minor and the Habs will get a PP.

14:30 - But not that time. Big Zee thundered a shot that hit Recchi's stick and looked like it went through Price and into the goal. An optical illusion. But there it is -- 3-1, Boston. Helpers to Zee and Bergeron.

14:41 - Shot Chara. Save Price.

16:05 - Well that was a mess. Thornton, sort've, fought two guys. And Ryan O'Byrne got a minor. And somehow the B's are on the power play. We'll take it.

16:48 - But not that time. Phil used Hamrlik as a screen and beat Price clean. It's 2-1, Boston. Pretty goal. Very pretty goal. Shots are 14-13, B's.

17:07 - Nice save by Price on Kessel...

17:53 - Ditto.

17:57 - A couple more saves for Thomas, who holds on.

18:08 - Save Thomas. On Plekanec. Tim holds on for the draw.

18:35 - Kovalev had way too much time to work with and he roofed a shot over Thomas. It's 1-1. Shots are 12-10, B's. It was a power play goal.

18:49 - Shot Bergeron. Save, Price.

19:34 - Hunwick ran into Price, slightly and the goalie shoved the defenseman away. In the meantime, there is a clock problem and a delay.

20:00 - Start of the Second Period. This could get ugly. We're four-on-four to start the period.
First Period Recap - The Bruins got on the board late in the period when Patrice Bergeron finished a feed that started with Mark Recchi, passed through Matt Hunwick and ended up on the assistant captain's stick. Bergeron, with an open net to shoot at, buried the shot and was clobbered from behind by Josh Gorges. That set up another Bruins power play, but stirred up the game quite a bit.

As such, the session ended with Bruins captain Zdeno Chara, who had taken exception to Mike Komisarek's presence near David Krejci, proceeding to pound the Habs defenseman with both fists.

Unfortunately, the captain's protection comes at a price and Boston will have to go without their big defenseman for four minutes to start the second period.

0:00 - And then Zee hit Komisarek -- hard -- several times. Big Zee got a double minor. Komisarek got a minor. The Canadiens defenseman was trying to start something with Krejci and, by God, Zdeno did not like it.

9.0 - Chara hits the post....

46.7 - Hamrlik to the box (cross check). Its five-on-three for 45-seconds.

2:02 - Just like Boston likes it. A goal and a brawl. Bergeron scored and was taken out by Gorges. And all heck broke loose. WIth the most satisfying outcome being that Gorges ended up in the box and the B's are up 1-0. Shots are 8-8. Helpers to Hunwick and Recchi.

4:08 - Shot, stop by Price. O'Byrne falls to the ice like an old tree -- thanks to Lucic.

5:42 - Montador drops Higgins as the latter crossed the blue.

6:15 - Komisarek and Lucic, old friends from way back, roughed each other up a bit and are in the box. Four-on-four play.

6:44 - A backhand from the corner stunned Price, but he made the save and the puck was cleared.

8:55 - Nice work by Wheeler bottles the Canadiens up in their own zone.

9:43 - Big shot, but Tim caught it in the B.

10:05 - Stuart to the box. Holding.

10:53 - Icing Montreal.

11:28 - A shot by a Kostitsyn and a save by Thomas. Shots are 5-2, CHC.

13:15 - Puck out of play. TV timeout. The faceoff will be in the Montreal zone.

14:47 - Chara crunched Lapierre. The Canadien forward looked as if he wanted to make something of it and thought better of it.

15:49 - Marc Savard clears the puck out of a pile up in front of Thomas...

16:14 - Tim makes a save and holds on.

16:21 - B's are a little bit back on their heels.

17:15 - Stuart is in the box for tripping.

18:29 - Save Thomas.

18:42 - After being bottled up for a while, Kovalev breaks out.

19:38 - Boston taking the body early.

20:00 - Start of the First. Montreal is hurt and a quick start by Boston may bury the Habs early.

Montreal Starters: Tanguay, Koivu, Kovalev, Dandenault, Hamrlik, Price
Boston Starters: Recchi, Bergeron, Kobasew, Chara, Ward, Thomas

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

7:02 p.m.
Charlie Jacobs' Statement on the Winter Classic
“Contrary to published reports, at this time we have not finalized plans for a Bruins game at Fenway Park on New Year’s Day.  It is no secret that I would love to bring The Winter Classic to the City of Boston – and I have been working with the NHL to consider a number of venues in the area.  We believe that we are close to accomplishing this.  Bruins fans deserve to have an outdoor game, and we hope to deliver one to them in the near future.” – Charlie Jacobs, Principal Boston Bruins & Delaware North Companies

6:50 p.m.
Coach Julien talked about the possible lineup changes the Canadiens may employ this evening.

"I don’t think it really matters who they put in or who they put out," said Coach, a-matter-of-factly. "We’ve got our team, and we’re going to put our team out there and play our game, so it really doesn’t matter.

"We’re really not...worried about who’s in or who’s out. 

"Just go out there and play the game, that’s where we’ve got to be focused on that, and nothing else," he said.

Tonight is a good opportunity for an undermanned Bruins team to show what it's got against a traditional rival.

"If you want to do well in the playoffs, you have some situations that happen along the way, that guys have to come in and replace other guys for numerous reasons," he said. "This should be the same thing tonight.

"Whether some guys are in or out shouldn’t matter.  We have to play a solid game and focus on what we have to do to be successful."

6:46 p.m.
Press Box Notes
The Bruins will host the Canadiens in their last regular season home game tonight. They wrap up the 2008-2009 regular season with two road games this weekend in Buffalo on Saturday and on Long Island on Sunday. The Bruins own a 28-6-6 record on home ice this season, tied for third in team history for most wins at home during a single season. A win tonight would place them in a tie for the second most home wins all-time. The all time home record win total is 33, achieved by the 1970-71 and 1973-74 squads.

Tonight's anticipated sellout attendance of 17,565 gives the Bruins a total home attendance figure of 699,073 this season (average 17,051). That is the second-highest single regular season attendance mark in their history behind only the 716,443 total (average 17,474) in 1995-96 which was the first season at the then-FleetCenter and now TD Banknorth Garden.

Other stories...
  • Bruins head coach Claude Julien is coaching in his 400th NHL game tonight. He has a 211-133-10-45 record in the 399 games entering tonight’s contest.
  • Tim Thomas carries a shutout streak of 114:37 into tonight’s game with a 1-0 blanking of NY Rangers on April 4, in the Bruins last home game. He owns five shutouts on the year as well and currently leads all goaltenders in both goals against average (2.07) and save percentage (.933).
  • Vladimir Sobotka was recalled from Providence earlier today on an emergency basis. He has played 23 games for Boston this season and recorded 1-3-4 totals. In 44 games with the P-Bruins this year, Sobotka contributed 20 goals and 24 assists and a +11 plus/minus rating.
  • With two games remaining in their 2008-09 regular season, the Canadiens occupy the seventh spot in the Eastern Conference with 92 points. Following today’s game, the Canadiens will host Pittsburgh in their last game of the season on April 11. They are one point clear of eighth place New York Rangers, who also has two games left.
  • Yesterday, Bruins defenseman Aaron Ward and WBCN 104.1 FM teamed up to host the second annual "Cuts for a Cause" to benefit the Boston Bruins Foundation and Mass General Hospital for Children’s Pediatric Oncology Unit. The event raised more than $32,000.

6:40 p.m.
The lines look like this...

Axelsson, Ference, Wideman, Sobotka

6:29 p.m.
It's Price vs. Thomas in goal.

6:08 p.m.
Claude Julien just spoke. Vladimir Sobotka remains a game-time decision.

4:53 p.m.
Boston Bruins Marc Savard (91). (AP Photo/Winslow Townson)
Bruins personnel are trickling into the building.

Forward Marc Savard, always an early arrival, spoke to the media gathered in front of the B's locker room.

“We can’t wait to get started today," said perpetually boyish looking Savard. "It’s going to be a lot of fun, and you know the situation they’re in, so it’s going to make it that much more of a rewarding game if we can win it."

Savard lost the mischievous grin when he started to echo his coach's sentiments from yesterday.

“I think you’ve got to try and play the same, because, if you don’t, stuff could happen to you," said Savard of having to finish out the string. "If you go through the motions, you end up getting hurt or you get embarrassed, so we haven’t been embarrassed all year, really, so that’s something we take pride in, too.

"I think tonight’s a good challenge, so I think we’re looking forward to it."

And with the Bruins and the Canadiens, even exhibition games are heated.

“Yeah, for sure," said Savard of the rivalry. "We know the history between us and them, and if the shoe was on the other foot, they’d be ready, so I think we’re quite ready for this game."

The veteran pivot also spoke about the change in the status of hockey in Boston since he arrived.

“I’ve seen the turnaround since I’ve got here; it’s been incredible," said Savard. "The fans really want us to win every time out.  Someone sees me, they come up to me, and they tell me that this was a hockey town first, and we’re starting to see that again, and we’d like to go, obviously, to the Stanley Cup, to reward those people, and we’re going to do everything we can."

So it's full steam ahead for the Black & Gold.

“Oh yeah.  We’ve always had that mentality, right through the whole season," said Savard. "When things got great for a while, when we went 10 or something straight, we knew that, that’s not the end of the line, that’s not what we’re looking for.

"Obviously it’s nice to win hockey games and finish first, but the big thing is lifting the Cup, and I think that’s what we’re all focused on."

And that is really good to hear.

3:19 p.m.
Bruins head coach Claude Julien may have some tinkering of his own to do on Thursday night. For instance, against the Senators, Phil Kessel was on the penalty kill.

Will the Bruins experiment?

"Partly, yes," said Julien, yesterday. "But I don't think we are at a stage here when we want to experiment more than [necessary].

"We've had Phil do some PK at times this year and I think that's what we were trying to do [on Tuesday] without [Axelsson] in there.

"It was time to give Phil an opportunity to kill some more penalties...and if he is called upon at some point during the playoffs he'll have done some at the end of the year.

"I guess the words 'experimenting with it' is not necessarily the right words.

"He's going to give us some depth in that department and I think he is very good at putting pressure on the opposing players that are on the power play," said Julien.

Coach said that the PK is something that Phil can grow into and will make Kessel a more valuable player.

"We like the way Krejci and Wheeler have been good at that this year,” continued Julien. "And I think a guy like Phil can be part of a group of those players who do the same thing."

Sobotka may see some ice
Vladimir Sobotka was called up this morning leading this reporter to believe that the speedy forward will be in the lineup.

"Providence is right around the corner," said Julien on Wednesday. "So, if none of those guys who are day-to-day are able to play...we will need somebody to come up."

The B's practiced with only 19 players on Wednesday.

An edge gives the B's an edge
Julien also reiterated that playing with an edge is key for the Bruins.

"It's important," said Julien to the media yesterday. "I think for the players that are out there...have to continue to play well.

"We don't want to lose that edge that we built over the last couple of weeks, getting our game back to more of our standards.

"It's important that we keep doing that."

But it's easier said than done, particularly with regulars out of the lineup and with the B's having to finish the schedule knowing that they are in first place come what may.

"For our guys, realistically, we've got our spot locked up," explained Julien. "It's not easy for them to go out there and say, 'You know what, I need to play hard.'

"But all of those players want to be in the playoffs, so in the back of your mind there's always a little bit of a thought that goes, 'I got to make sure I don't get injured here.'

"And you don't want to go into a game playing a game afraid to get injured, because that's when it happens," he said.

Julien said that everyone needs to recognize tonight for what it is.

"This is a big game, sometimes [injuries] happen, so go out there and play hard and let things sort themselves out," he said.

2:38 p.m.
Mr. Gainey talked about his team’s recent play and the loss of Andrei Markov and Matheiu Schneider to his club’s defensive corps.

“Well, we did sort of rejuvenate our team there for a couple of weeks and a lot of it was from our power play and [injured defensemen Markov and Schneider] were our two players working the blueline,” said Gainey. “So that took a chunk out of our special teams.

“They’re both experienced guys – Markov is our top player back there – and in a game or two you can get by without your top guy, but over time it wears down the other players.

“We do miss him,” he said.

One reporter likened Gainey’s team to last year’s Bruins club that clinched their playoff berth in their 81st game.

“Well, we’ve played better and that’s the place to judge our team,” said Gainey. “Yah, we would’ve liked to have win more games than we’ve won.

“[But] I don’t think we’ve lost a game that we deserved to win. We haven’t been on the wrong side of the score and left the game and said, ‘We really should’ve won that game.’

But we have played better and to go into the playoffs with that feeling that you are stronger, and that you are capable to play against the teams that have had a stronger season over the six months than you have, that’s an important piece that you need,” he said.

Gainey then added, “To limp in and not feel confident is not going to make you a real good competitor in the playoffs.”

As far as any more lineup changes, Gainey revealed that his club would “probably use seven defensemen tonight in some fashion.”

1:35 p.m. was reporting the Habs lines like so:

A. Kostitsyn-Plekanec-D'Agostini

Scratches: Stewart, Laraque

But since the Gainey presser, things seem to have changed, and so has TSN:
Defenceman Mathieu Schneider practiced with the team in Boston this morning and intends to play tonight. Defenceman Yannick Weber was recalled from the Hamilton Bulldogs of the American Hockey League and will likely join him on the power play and do spot duty at forward.

12:17 p.m.
Montreal GM/Coach Bob Gainey just said that he thought that veteran blueliner Matheiu Schneider might suit up against the Bruins this evening.

"It's a good possibility," said Gainey. "I'll have to speak with him and see how he felt this morning -- it was his first time on the ice with the team since his injury last Saturday.

"So, it's a possibility...he looked fine to me."

12:16 p.m.
Boston Bruins General Manager Peter Chiarelli announced today that the club has recalled forward Vladimir Sobotka from the Providence Bruins on an emergency basis (American Hockey League). Sobotka is expected to join the Boston Bruins today and be available for tonight's game against the Montreal Canadiens at 7:00 p.m. ET...more.

9:48 a.m.
Canadiens on the bubble?
Also from Hickey: The Canadiens go into tonight’s game in seventh place in the Eastern Conference and there are three basic scenarios that would ensure Montreal of a postseason berth:
  • The Canadiens are in if they take at least one point in their last two games.
  • The Canadiens are in if ninth-place Florida doesn’t win its last two games. The Panthers will be in Atlanta Thursday to face the Thrashers and will finish at home Saturday against the Washington Capitals.
  • The Canadiens are in if the eighth-place New York Rangers lose their final two games. The Rangers are home to the Flyers Thursday and wrap up the season in Philadelphia Sunday.

9:40 a.m.
News from the enemy camp...
The Montreal Gazette's Pat Hickey Reports: Yannick Weber will be on the point for the Canadiens power play against Boston Thursday night but coach Bob Gainey isn't sure where the 20-year-old Swiss defenceman fits in when the team is at even strength.

Weber was recalled from Hamilton today and Doug Janik was returned to the Bulldogs. Gainey said he made the move because it changes the style of the team. Gainey is hoping that Weber's skills can help the power play, which is 0-for-6 in two games since losing Andrei Markov and Mathieu Schneider last Saturday. 

Gainey said he may dress seven defencemen with Mathieu Dandenault back on the blue line and Weber being confined to power-play duties. There's also the possibility that Weber could see action as a forward, playing the same role fellow Helvetian Mark Streit played in Montreal. 

There's no news on Schneider or Markov but Gainey did confirm that they are out indefinitely.

Gainey hasn't settled on a goaltender for Thursday's game but said he's leaning toward Carey Price.

8:58 a.m.
The Playoffs have begun…

In true playoff fashion, the Bruins will not take a morning skate, opting instead to enjoy a few more hours of rest before facing off against the Montreal Canadiens tonight in the TD Banknorth Garden.

Montreal, however, is expected to skate this morning on Causeway Street round about 11:30 a.m.

Yesterday, the Boston club worked through a full practice and, afterward, stressed that they were not looking past anyone toward the playoffs. Instead, the Black & Gold seemed bound and determined to have a say in the Habs’ fate going forward.

Furthermore, Bruins head coach Claude Julien didn’t know how to characterize tonight’s tilt against the Canadiens.

“Is it rivalry? Is it possible [playoff] opponents? Is it whatever it may be?” asked Julien. “I think it’s all of the above.

“And I think that we have to be honest and realistic because we don’t know what is going to happen here with those last few [Eastern Conference playoff] spots that are available.

“We approached the Rangers game that way, so I don’t see why we wouldn’t approach the game against Montreal [on Thursday] the same way,” he said.
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