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Game Day: Islanders vs. Bruins

by John Bishop / Boston Bruins
N.Y. Islanders 0 1 0-1

Boston 2 0 0-2

First Period-1, Boston, Kessel 30 (Ference, Montador), 3:16. 2, Boston, Savard 22 (Kessel, Chara), 4:21.

Second Period-3, N.Y. Islanders, Streit 13 (Okposo, Park), 10:25.

Third Period-None.

Shots on Goal-N.Y. Islanders 5-7-10-22. Boston 7-7-11-25.

Goalies-N.Y. Islanders, Danis. Boston, Thomas. A-17,565 (17,565). T-2:15.
Third Period: Boston started the third killing off a penalty (a too-many-men call from 1:26 left in the second), and then, halfway through the period, again found themselves backtracking –– this time their numbers decimated by two.

Despite a wildly aggressive Islanders squad and numerous opportunities with special teams units, the Bruins managed to hold the Isles to within one and take home the ‘W’ in front of a sold out TD Banknorth Garden.

Shots on goal were 25-22, in favor of the Bruins.

0:00 - Tim Thomas wins his 30th thanks in part to Phil Kessel's 30th goal of the season.

3.0 - Dving block by Kobasew.

57.6 - Icing Boston.

1:02 - Danis vacates his net.

2:28 - Save Danis...

2:41 - Save Thomas...

4:12 - Wideman skates into the slot to unleash a wicked wrister, which Danis' gloves down.

4:42 - Bitz had a strong opportunity and fought off an Islander to get a shot off on Danis' goal to finish a partial breakaway.

5:58 - Thomas with a save on Gervais, who shot from the point.

6:59 - Lucic finishes the second of two terrific hits in the Islanders zone.

7:37 - Nice forecheck by Kobasew who forced the Islanders back...

8:38 - Offsides BOS.

8:59 - Offsides NYI.

9:42 - Jackman smoked Ference on a hit from behind and was called, but Lucic was very angry and pulled the Islander out of the pile, wanting to fight. But the only punch that got thrown was by Jackman. They evened things up. Four-on-four.

10:59 - Thomas deflects a centering pass out of harm's way.

11:41 - Timmy with a strong save in front. And then Chara takes Witt down to the ice. They jabber at each other.

12:28 - Wheeler for tripping. Streit seemed to embellish "just a little." Old Hab-its die hard. It'll be five-on-three.

13:46 - Lucic goes to the box for tripping.

14:23 - Ward, Thomas combine to stop a Islanders breakaway.

17:01 - Danis stops a Chara drive...

17:16 - Streit goes to the box.

18:11 - Hilbert's shot goes off of Thomas' shoulder. Stuart and Martinek tussle.

19:00 - Thomas save on Comeau...

19:13 - Boston killed that penalty off.

20:00 - Start of the Third.
Second Period: As has been the recent trend, the strong starts and early goals in favor of the Bruins have faded into a relatively uneventful second period, with the only scoring coming for the visiting team.

At 9:35, Islanders defenseman Mark Streit zigzagged through multiple Bruins and found the back of the net with a wrist shot over Thomas, glove-side. The goal brought the New York team within one, but that was where the men in Black & Gold held them as the remainder of the period played out.

However, forward David Krejci very nearly padded the B’s lead at 5:47 with an open-net bid that hit the New York crossbar. Close enough for a review of the play, but not enough for the point.

After two periods of play the shots on goal are 14-12 in favor of Boston.

0:00 - That was a little bit ugly. Shots were 7-7 in the period, and the Bruins, who at one point were dominating this game, are lucky to be leading 2-1. The shots for the game are 14-12, B's.

1:26 - Wow. Another too many men on the ice penalty on Boston. Yuck.

1:47 - Lucic with a solid hit on McAmmond.

2:29 - Park shoots, Thomas stops it. Nice save.

4:53 - Another close call, this time for the Isles, who succeed in getting a loose puck into Thomas' crease, but Chara cleared.

5:47 - Lucic worked his tail off to get the puck to the front of the net, and the puck just missed finding its way into the goal off of David Krejci. The puck hit the crossbar and the back of Danis' head. Very, very close.

7:45 - Danis stopped a crossing pass and prevented an almost sure Kessel goal...

9:35 - Streit scores for the Isles. The crowd, recognizing a distinct downturn in the energy on the ice, boos. It's 2-1, Boston.

10:51 - Isles penalty to Gervais for hooking. B's bench minor too many men. It's four-on-four.

11:13 - Two stops by Thomes keep the Isles in check. Good kill for the B's.

13:18 - Bergeron is called for hook.

13:36 - Shot Stuart, save Danis.

14:01 -  Shots are 8-6, Boston.

17:12 - Lucic gets the puck down low and just missed banking it into the goal.

18:45 - The Islanders are really pressing. Coach Gordon must have really given them a piece of his mind.

20:00 - Second Period.
First Period Recap: Head coach Claude Julien talked about concerns that the suddenly hot New York Islanders might post a challenge to the recently slumping Boston Bruins in this afternoon’s contest between the Eastern rivals. Two shots into the game and those fears were no longer relevant.

The B’s put themselves on the board –– twice, in fact –– in the early few minutes of the first period, capitalizing on the first two shots against Islanders goaltender Yann Danis.

The first tally, at 16:44, was chipped in by forward Phil Kessel off a Blake Wheeler Steve Montador shot from the point. It was Kessel’s 30th goal of the season and resulted in the first 30-goal season by a Bruin since Patrice Bergeron in 2005-06 (31).

Not much more than a minute later, at 15:39, Kessel was at it again, but this time more as a helper. A cross-ice pass from him to linemate Marc Savard resulted in a beautiful top-shelf goal past Danis.

0:00 - A fast start and a slow fizzle to that period. But, hey, who's complaining. It's 2-0, B's!

1:28 - Shots are 7-5, Boston. The game is on snooze.

5:36 - Icing Boston.

7:36 - Bergeron and Okposo have words beside the NYI net...

8:19 - Much of the game has been played in the NYI end. But the shots are only 4-4.

9:16 - Danis makes a pretty dandy save on a tip...

12:51 - Savard broke to the net and got hauled down. He drew the call on Comeau. Holding.

13:28 - The crowd is actually a little quiet, as if they are waiting on another goal. Shots are 3-1, Boston.

15:39 - Look out. The Black & Gold express is early. This time it's a sniper who finds himself with loads of time and a shot from the slot = goal. Savard just ripped it and Danis missed it. Boston scored on their first two shots. Gorgeous plays each. Wow.

16:44 - A shot from the point. A rebound and a sniper in the right spot = goal for a now red hot Phil Kessel. Give Wheeler Montador and Ference a helper each. That was "The Thrill's" 30th.

17:53 - A little bit of a slow start. No shots, yet.

20:00 - Start of the First Period. ECAC goalie duel! UVM vs. Brown (and yes, I know Vermont is Hockey East now, but not when Timmy was in Burlington).

Islanders Starters: Streit, Gervais, Hilbert, Jackman, McAmmond, Danis
Bruins Starters: Ference, Montador, Wheeler, Savard, Kessel, Thomas

Switching to time on the clock...

12:56 p.m.
Gordon talked about his starter, former Brown University standout Yann Danis, before warmups...
"One of the things about Yann…the first part of the year he had four starts and never showed us a reason not to put him back in.  When Joey MacDonald went down Yann stepped in and he played, I don’t know that  anyone could really play better than he did.  It was a slow progression but once he had three games under his belt he started to pull everything together.  He’s really played like a true number one.  We’ve asked our two goalies to come in here and try at the start of the year show that they are capable of being number two’s and along the way they’ve had to step up and be number ones.  It’s great for Yann because what he’s done here in the second half is obviously great for him and his career.  It’s the break that he’s been looking for."

12:51 p.m.
Coach Julien spoke about Scott Gordon, pregame.

"Well I’ve always been impressed with his dedication to the game and how he works with players," said JUlien of his ex-teammate. "It was nice to be on the same side as him again last year. We communicated quite a bit; we’d call back and forth and we’d talk about players and we’d talk about situations.

"I was really happy when he got the opportunity [with New York] and despite where they are in the standings, anybody who knows hockey knows he’s done a pretty good job so far."

As far as Gordon't coaching style, Julien said, "He always makes small adjustments. It’s a lot of his game.

"Their guys are very aggressive; they’ve got young legs and they come at you the offensive zone; two guys coming hard at you, and their third man’s always high, which allows their D’s to pinch.

"So if you’re not sharp in your breakouts or you’re moving the puck, you’re going to turn pucks over and that’s where they take advantage of it."

12:40 p.m.
The lines (look the same as Thursday)...

Hunwick, Hnidy, Yelle

12:33 p.m.
Coach Julien on these Islanders...
"Right now they’re playing probably their best hockey that they’ve had all year, so they’re on a good stretch here. They’re confident. Their young guys have a lot of energy. They just are trying to [out] work the other team and force them to make mistakes; when you make mistakes they try and capitalize on those. That’s what they’ve been doing; that’s what’s been successful. Whether it’s been Montreal last game, whether it’s been New Jersey, who was on a good role when they played them, it doesn’t matter. This is certainly a team right now that’s playing as well as any team on top of the conference right now so we’re in for a tough game today."

12:30 p.m.
It's Tim Thomas vs. Yann Danis in goal.

In 44 games, Thomas has a 29-10-6 record, a 2.08 Goals Against Average and .932 Save Percentage. He leads all NHL goaltenders in both GAA and sv%.

Thomas notched his 29th win of the season with a 5-3 win over Ottawa on Mar. 12. He is looking to match his previous career-high for wins in a season set with 30 in 2006-07.

The last five 30-win seasons by Boston goaltenders were Thomas, Byron Dafoe (35, 2001-02; 32, 1998-99; 30, 1997-98) and Jon Casey (30, 1993-94).

12:21 p.m.
Press Box Notes..
Phil Kessel tallied his 28th and 29th goals of the season on March 12 against Ottawa. He is bidding to become Boston's first 30-goal scorer since 2005-06 (Patrice Bergeron, 31).

Other stories...
  • In 102 career games against the Islanders, Bruins forward Mark Recchi has averaged more than a point per game with 42-76-118 totals.
  • The Bruins own the NHL’s best power play at home with 38 goals on 133 attempts (28.6%).
  • For the Islanders, Kyle Okposo has a four game goal/point streak in progress with 4-0-4 totals over that span while Blake Comeau has a six game point streak in progress with 3-5-8 totals.
  • The Islanders are 5-1-2 in their last eight games, with victories over Montreal, Phoenix, New Jersey, Colorado and Buffalo. They are 4-1-1 in the month of March.
  • The Bruins will depart for Pittsburgh after today’s game. They face off against the Penguins at 3:00 p.m. on Sunday, March 15.

11:31 a.m.
Sure, the Bruins won on Thursday night, but they know it’s a whole different game today – one that’s going to require a full-game effort.

“Just, putting a full 60 minutes together, trying to limit turnovers, trying to not get to fancy, and those types of things,” said Milan Lucic.  “We’ve just got to get down and dirty in the corners, block shots, those kinds of things.”

Even though the Islanders are in last place, the B’s aren’t taking them lightly.

“Today is going to be another good test for us,” Lucic said.  “The Islanders have been playing good as of late, so, I mean, they’re a team that’s going to work hard, and we’re going to have to try to match their work ethic and out-work them.”

Luch may also have some more time with his new linemates, David Krejci and Michael Ryder.

“I was in the box for five minutes, so I didn’t really get to play with them in the first, but it felt like it got better as the game went along,” he said.  “The chemistry was obviously there, so I think it’s going to be a fun time playing with those two.”

Lucic also knows to look out for former Bruin Nate Thompson when he’s on the ice.

“He’s a guy that we know he’s going work hard and those types of things,” he said.  “He’s a gritty player, and whatnot; he’s a good leader.

“He was [former Providence Bruins head coach Scott Gordon]’s captain in Providence there, and Gordon, he expects hard work from those guys.  [Thompson]’s one of his players that he likes just because he does work hard, and he does get on the puck hard and fast, and that’s what Gordo likes.”

10:39 a.m.
(Photo by Brian Babineau/NHLI via Getty Images)
Byron Bitz, who will most likely be playing center again in this afternoon's game against the New York Islanders, had some thoughts on what his "new" (he's played center in the AHL) position has done for him.

"I'm getting put in different situations, which is allowing me to learn, you know, on penalty kill now," the Bruins forward said.

He said the new responsibility is more of just that: a learning experience. And, of course, a good time.

"I love it," he said. "I've [played center] in the past and do like [it]...I've been put in different situations which has been really good for me."

With the new position comes new linemates, and for Bitz, wingman Shawn Thornton is just his kind of right-hand man.

"He makes good plays out there. He makes solid plays. He makes simple plays," he said about Thornton.

"If your fourth line can chip in with some goals or a good shift that does a lot for a team sometimes. You try to be a good energy line and...hopeflly chip in here and there."

9:51 a.m.
Michael Ryder Boston Bruins
Going into today’s game with the Islanders, Bruins head coach Claude Julien talked about the recent play of several Bruins.

First up, Michael Ryder.

“He was a little better [against Ottawa],” he said. “The last little while, we’ve seen him – some games at his best, and some games where he hasn’t been good enough for us – you know, he’s had his ups and downs like everybody else.

“[Thursday] night was a better performance in his part.”

Next was Chuck Kobasew.

“I think we’re starting to see a little more of the Chuck that we’ve all always known,” said Julien. “He’s just a gritty player and he goes into those gritty areas and plays hard.

“He gets banged up because of it. But he plays hard and makes things happen. And [Thursday] night he was Johnny on the spot [when he converted on] that nice Michael Ryder pass, but you have to get there to if you want to score those goals.

“He’s pretty good at those situations…and he’s got a lot of goals for a guy who hasn’t been in the lineup at times this year [because of injury],” he said.

Finally, Julien talked about the B’s top players – including Marc Savard – and how they must provide leadership on the ice and off.

“We don’t expect Marc Savard to carry the team,” said the coach when he was asked if he puts extra pressure on Savard and Co. “But you’re right in saying that our top players have to be the guys to lead the way and Marc is part of that group.

“You definitely expect your top guys to be at their best and your best players have to be your best players every night…if you want to have success.

“I guess that’s the pressure…on those kind of guys. And if you want to be that kind of guy you have to be able to handle it,” he said.

9:09 a.m.
The Bruins will not skate this morning because of the early start. I expect that I might be able to grab a quote or two from a player round about 10:30 a.m.

Coach Julien is scheduled to meet with the media at 11:50 a.m.

After the game, the Bruins will travel to Pittsburgh in preparation for their tilt with the Penguins on Sunday.
Angela Latona & Angela Stefano contributed to today's Bear Essentials.

March 13th
3:46 p.m.
In other news, forward Stephane Yelle is doubtful for Saturday vs. the Islanders.

"That doesn't mean he won't [play]," said Coach Julien. "But I'd say he's more doubtful."

3:41 p.m.
Coach Speak

“It was just a little bit of fun here,” said Claude Julien of the B’s mini-scrimmages at the tail end of practice. “We’ve been putting a little bit of pressure on ourselves for quite a while now and we’ve worked hard for the later part of practice and then we just decided to incorporate something fun.”

Coach Julien was asked if it were easy to lost track of the “fun” of hockey at this point in the season.

“Well, it’s easy (to lose track of having fun),” he said. “But at the same time this is the time where you have to think about doing those kind of things once in a while.

“I think that was the goal behind it and what I liked about it was that guys still competed pretty hard in that drill [and] they were having fun doing it.”

12:12 p.m.
The nets have been set up across from each other in one offensive zone, with Timmy and Manny approximately 80 feet from each other.

It's a two-on-two game -- not much hitting.

It switches to a three-on-three game, too. Whoops, now it's a one-on-one.

11:53 a.m.
Stephane Yelle is on the ice, by the way. Nobody else is missing...

11:42 a.m.
Presidents' Trophy
As I sit here, something interesting comes to mind -- The Presidents' Trophy.

Yesterday, for the first time to my reckoning, the B's actually began talking about it as a goal.

"I just think we’ve got to give ourselves something to motivate us and to aim for, and I told them, why not us?" said Coach Julien, postgame on Thursday.  "Why shouldn’t we be giving ourselves a goal, and maybe that’ll help us focus on those games coming up and not allow us to get into a comfort zone, [where the team says], 'Well, it doesn’t matter if we play .500, we’re going to be in a playoff position.'

"We want to be the best we can, and that’s one way of motivating ourselves."

"We want to start having some fun around here again and the only way to do that is to start getting some wins," said Marc Savard. "We know there is 15 games going into tonight. We talked about it as a group and we've got a chance to do something special here.

"We know we want to win the Stanley Cup, that’s the ultimate goal, but the Presidents’ Cup is a nice thing too.

"We've got to want to play for something right now and we had a good chat about that. I think the way we started especially, we went out there and guys kind of realized yeah, we don’t get this chance every year and we went out there and did something about it," he said.

Aaron Ward tempered the argument, somewhat, but kept his sights high.

"I mean I know it’s something to shoot for, but I think that maintaining absolute home ice is goal enough for us," he said. "I think it should be where we set our sights and that’s exactly our focus.

"The Presidents’ trophy is great, but we as a team need to remedy our problems and going in on an upswing into the playoffs. Those are the things we have to worry about right now."

Not shockingly, Tim "The Tank" Thomas rolled straight ahead.

"Yeah, definitely -- that’s the big picture," said Thomas, before he added that the "small picture is on a game-to-game basis, and we have to put complete sixty minutes together."

11:28 a.m.

…followed shortly thereafter by everyone else.

11:26 a.m.
Matt Hunwick is on the ice first…

10:07 a.m.
Boston Bruins' Aaron Ward celebrates his short-handed goal with teammate Steve Montador (23) during the first period of Boston's 5-3 win over the Ottawa Senators in an NHL hockey game in Boston on Thursday, March 12, 2009. (AP Photo/Winslow Townson)
The Bruins will practice this morning at Ristuccia Arena and there’s no doubt that Aaron Ward’s shorthanded goal from Thursday night will still be the talk of the team.

The ribbing started during the post game press scrums.

“Yeah, Wardo finally got a hold of one there,” said Marc Savard. “It was probably about 65 mph, one of his harder ones, but no it’s nice to see him do that.”

“Oh, I didn’t see that one coming,” said Phil Kessel. “Obviously, he made a great shot there and a nice slapper and he fooled Auldy [Alex Auld] a little bit and it was a great shot.”

Ward, himself, wasn’t so sure it was much of a shot.

“I think Auldy knew that in the million shots that I shot at him (last year), the one that went in, went through his five hole.

“So I only had one option and that was not to shoot five hole. The scouting report on me is pretty easy.”

But Ward fooled Auld, sort of.

“It was the first time it hit the net (in a while) and even there it hit the post (first),” he said.
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