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Game Day: Senators vs. Bruins

by John Bishop & Angela Latona / Boston Bruins
Ottawa 1 0 2-3

Boston 3 0 2-5

John Bishop is the beat writer for He covers the Black & Gold hoping to offer a positive look at the team, not only from the stands and the press box, but also from inside the locker room.
First Period-1, Boston, Ward 3 (Bergeron, Chara), 3:17 (sh). 2, Boston, Axelsson 6 (Krejci), 6:52. 3, Boston, Kobasew 17 (Ryder, Savard), 10:24 (pp). 4, Ottawa, Spezza 24 (Heatley, Alfredsson), 12:48.

Second Period-None.

Third Period-5, Boston, Kessel 28 (Savard, Stuart), 4:31. 6, Ottawa, Schubert 2 (Shannon, Heatley), 6:52. 7, Ottawa, Spezza 25 (Alfredsson), 9:05. 8, Boston, Kessel 29 (Axelsson), 19:04 (en).

Shots on Goal-Ottawa 14-4-10-28. Boston 10-7-5-22.

Goalies-Ottawa, Auld. Boston, Thomas. A-17,022 (17,565). T-2:25.
Third period recap: A final rally by the Ottawa Senators had the Hub of Hockey at the edge of its seat as two unanswered goals put the game within one.

Former Bruin Alex Auld let in a total of four goals to ultimately give the Bruins a W after three periods of play. Phil Kessel notched that fourth goal at 15:29, flinging one high on Auld, glove side. It was at least the third goal of the night scored that way on the former Bruin goaltender, as his old teammates picked on his weak side.

Then, at 13:08, the Senators began to rain on everyone’s parade. Left winger Christoph Schubert cut into the Boston lead, making it 4-2. A couple of minutes later and it was centerman Jason Spezza’s turn, as he chipped in a pass from teammate Daniel Alfresson from the faceoff.

The final hurrah was not enough to salvage the night for Ottawa, however, as the Kessel put home the insurance empty netter with less than a minute to spare.

Shots for the night were 28-22 in favor of the Sens.

0:00 - Boston wins. The Bruins now have 97 points.

55.6 - Kessel scores into an empty net and should put this one away.

1:20 - Bergy came really close down low...he just missed the top corner.

3:30 - Timmy dives to the left of his goal to cover the rebound off Volchenkov's big shot.

4:15 - Thomas holds on to the Sens latest bid.

4:45 - Shots are 26-21, Ottawa.

6:54 - Icing Ottawa.

7:10 - Bitz and Thornton combine on a scoring chance. Very close...

8:25 - Wideman shoots wide...

9:59 - Lucic gathered the puck in the neutral zone, skated into the OTT zone and he passed to Krejci, who shot. Save Auld.

10:55 - Spezza scores . It's 4-3. It's a whole new game, folks. Hang on.

13:08 - Schubert scores. It's 4-2, Boston, and Coach Julien is not going to like that one...

13:48 - Timmy sees a puck into his glove and holds on.

15:29 - Kessel took it coast to coast and put the puck top shelf. Lucic was with him on the two-on-one and kept a share of Auld's attention as Kess sped down the right side. It's 4-1. That was Phil's 28th of the season.

16:43 - Heatley shot, Thomas save.

17:12 - Ottawa is having a little trouble putting the PP together.

18:15 - Slashing on Ryder.

20:00 - Start of the Third.
Second period recap: Despite a blow-out first period, there was nothing to speak of for the second of tonight’s game versus the Ottawa Senators.

There was a ton of back-and-forth skating, but not too much action. There were a number of passes, but only 11 shots made it on net for both teams combined.

All in all a very uneventful period. No damage done; no ground gained.

0:00 - That was a dog of a period. Not much to report or remember. Buuuut Boston is still leading, 3-1.

1:20 - Kessel just missed...

3:56 - Krejci and Co. were buzzing around the Ottawa goal, and Auld had to make a nice save to keep the B's off the board.

6:05 - Shots are even, 15-15.

8:10 - The B's power play is offsides. Woof.

9:26 - Ruutu in the box for hooking.

11:00 - Ottawa is way too comfortable in the Boston zone.

11:57 - Puck out of play. Faceoff in the B's zone.

13:16 - Kobasew just got crunched by Neil. Hmmmm.

14:16 - Icing Ottawa.

15:03 - A near miss for Krejci, who just missed a tip in.

16:00 - Slow start for Boston...

18:01 - With one second left on the Ottawa penalty that carried over, Boston is called for icing.

20:00 - Start of the Second.
First period recap: Sometimes it’s good to be bad.

Twice tonight the Bruins have been a man down (or two), and twice tonight they have utilized a man fresh out of the sin bin to put one up on the scoreboard.

A handful of penalties to the both teams (Ottawa’s Nick Foligno for tripping and Boston’s Dennis Wideman and Aaron Ward, both for hooking), put the Senators up a man early in the first period of tonight’s contest.

After Ottawa killed off their penalty, the resulting 5-on-3 for the Sens looked good for a goal as Bruins goaltender Tim Thomas was down to one side, leaving a wide swath of net available. Luckily, defenseman Zdeno Chara was there to bat it out of the air – and send it up the ice to a cherry-picking Ward, who had just been released from his purgatory.

Ward slapped that one in from the top of the circle passed a stunned Alex Auld. It was the first career short-handed goal for the B’s defenseman.

Not two minutes later and another Bruin, P.J. Axelsson this time, was in the box for roughing. The resulting power play ended as the Bruins left winger burst from the penalty box and, on an odd-man rush, fired one past the unassuming Auld.

By the end of 20 minutes, the folks at the Garden would see another two points tallied (one for each club) and a fight between Boston’s Milan Lucic and Ottawa’s Chris Neil. Both sides got in a fair share of lefts and rights before the altercation was stopped.

Strangely enough, shots on goal for the first are 14 for Ottawa, 10 for Boston.

0:00 - One of the strangest periods of hockey I have seen all year. But the B's lead, 3-1.

1.2 - Ottawa penalty, too many men. What a strange period.

12.5 - Save Thomas...

44.0 - Save Thomas...

1:04 - Wheeler for holding.

1:30 - The Sens have taken over in shots, 12-10.

3:28 - Thomas covers a puck that trickled into his crease.

4:26 - That was a pretty glove save by Auld. Shot 3-1.

4:45 - Icing Ottawa.

7:12 - Wow. The Sens are right back in this one. Spezza was there when a puck squirted into the slot. He found twine and the score is now 3-1. Give assists to Heatley and Alfredsson.

7:46 - Tough stop for Thomas through traffic...alliteration anyone?

8:32 - The Senators are getting ornery. Lots of pushing and shoving behind the Bruins goal.

9:36 - That one goes to Kobasew, who was in the right place to receive a very nice pass from Michael Ryder and slam dunks his 17th goal of the season into a yawning Ottawa net. Yaaaaaaaaaawn. It was a power play goal, with assists to Ryder and Savard. Shots are 9-5, Boston.

10:26 - Two big stops from Auld...

10:43 - Shannon is in the box for a hook.

12:30 - While carrying the puck, Michael Ryder cleaned out a Senator (Volchenkov?) and kept going. Ha.

13:04 - Wow. A pretty brutal fight between Neil and Lucic. I give Lucic the points, but the fight was stopped when Neil pulled Luch's sweater over his head. In a juxtaposition, Lucic actually landed the last punch blind.

13:08 - An easy way to get back at the Senators. Axelsson finishes the give-and-go and buries the puck behind Auld. Krejci was the swing man on the G-and-G.

15:19 - Axelsson is in the box for roughing.

16:47 - A season-changing turn of events? Chara makes a save on an open net. Then, Ward gets out of the box and beats Auld cleanly on the breakaway. A gorgeous goal and two big-time plays for the Bruins. Give the helpers to Bergeron and Chara.

17:19 - Timmy makes the save and Chara clears the space with a sweep of his arm.

18:19 - Okay, this is getting a little weird. Wideman in the box for hooking. It's four-on-three.

18:47 - Foligno is in the box for tripping. Now, we're even. It's four-on-four.

18:50 - Ward in the box for hooking. Thomas had to make a pretty good save on a Ottawa breakaway.

19:26 - Icing Ottawa.

20:00 - Start of the First Period. Man, Hannah the anthem singer was AWESOME.

Ottawa Starters:
Volchenkov, Campoli, Foligno, Fisher, Shannon, Auld
Boston Starters: Ference, Montador, Wheeler, Savard, Kessel, Thomas

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

6:40  p.m.
The Lines...

Hunwick, Hnidy, Yelle

6:29 p.m.
It's Tim Thomas vs. Alex Auld in goal.

In 44 games, Thomas has a 28-10-6 record, a 2.06 Goals Against Average and .932 Save Percentage. He leads all NHL goaltenders in both GAA and Save Percentage.

5:56 p.m.
Thoughts on OTT...
The B's haven't played Ottawa in a while, but since the B's last faced the Sens, the black and red have had a coaching change.

Cory Clouston is now the man in charge and Coach Julien says there are some differences since the last time the B's played Ottawa.

"They’re a little more aggressive in the neutral zone; they’ll trap you differently," said Julien."Their D's are up the ice a little bit more and supporting the attack.

"Obviously, they’ve done some good things because they’ve started playing better and winning some hockey games."

5:40 p.m.
Press Box Notes

Boston Bruins' Zdeno Chara celebrates his empty-net goal with P.J. Axelsson (11), of Sweden, as Ottawa Senators' Jason Spezza (19) skates by in the third period of an NHL hockey game in Boston on Tuesday, Feb. 26, 2008. The Bruins beat the Senators 4-0. (AP Photo/Elise Amendola)
For Ottawa, Jason Spezza has a four-game assist and point streak in progress with 1-4-5 totals during this span, while Daniel Alfredsson has a four-game point streak in progress with 3-3-6 totals. Spezza has 12-17-29 totals in 32 career games against Boston while Alfredsson has 15-37-52 totals in 65 games against the B’s. Dany Heatley meanwhile is averaging a point-per-game against the Bruins, as he has 17-19-36 totals in 36.

Other stories...
  • Senators’ winger Ryan Shannon is expected to play in his 100th career NHL game tonight.
  • Bruins forward P.J. Axelsson and the Boston Bruins are proud to announce that the Second Annual “P.J.’s Pajama Drive” collected over 12,000 pairs of pajamas during the month of February, beating their goal by more than 5,000 pairs.
  • The pajamas will be donated to Cradles to Crayons, a Quincy-based nonprofit organization that helps homeless and in-need children, and distributed to children throughout the Greater Boston area.
  • As part of the month-long drive, local schools were encouraged to participate by holding their own pajama collections. The 488 students of Dolbeare Elementary School in Wakefield, MA collected the most pajamas of all the participating schools, with 1,424. Axelsson will visit Dolbeare Elementary at a date to-be-determined to congratulate them on collecting the most pajamas of any school in Massachusetts and thank them for their support.
  • During the first intermission of tonight’s game Boston Bruins Foundation Director of Development Bob Sweeney will present a check for $100,000 to the Massachusetts Hockey Association. Accepting the check on behalf of the Mass Hockey Association will be president of the MHA Steve Palmacci and treasurer Greg Sophis.
  • Of the $100,000 donation, $36,000 will be donated to Mike Cheever’s “Grow Hockey” Program, a development program whose purpose is to seek, fund, and share within the Massachusetts Hockey Association, innovative methods for growing ice hockey participation throughout the state.

3:41 p.m.
BOSTON - JANUARY 13: P.J. Axelsson #11 of the Boston Bruins heads for the net as Sergei Kostitsyn #74 of the Montreal Canadiens defends on January 13, 2009 at the TD Banknorth Garden in Boston, Massachusetts. The Bruins defeated the Canadiens 3-1. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
"It went really well," said P.J. Axelsson of his pajama drive. "It was really good."

P.J.'s Second Annual "PJ's Pajama Drive" collected more than 12,000 pairs of pajamas during the month of February, beating their goal by more than 5,000 pairs.

The pajamas will be donated to Cradles to Crayons, a Quincy-based nonprofit organization that helps homeless and in-need children, and distributed to children throughout the Greater Boston area.

"We thought 7,000 was a big number," said Axelsson with a big smile.

However, it's clear that Axelsson thinks that finding a way to give back to the community is an important part of being a Boston Bruin.

"That's a really big factor," said the forward. "Almost every guy has some charity that they help out with -- it's a big thing, giving back."

And for the Axelsson's, giving was a family affair. His wife Siw and his daughter Wilma both helped with the drive.

If you would like to learn more, click here.

3:18 p.m.
Boston Bruins' Mark Recchi, right, celebrates his goal with Patrice Bergeron (37) during the second period of an NHL hockey game against the Chicago Blackhawks, Saturday, March 7, 2009, in Boston. (AP Photo/Michael Dwyer)
Count Mark Recchi amongst those who think home ice might help the B's revert to form.

"It’s always good being home," said Recchi. "Obviously we’re pretty successful here and these are important games coming up.

"We’ve got to get back on the role and start playing the way we’re capable of playing and I believe the guys are ready...and are willing to do what it takes to get back to that level."

Don't look for panic in the B's locker room, either.

"No, no not at all," said Recchi. "We’re getting good info from the coaching staff and I think the guys understand what they need to do.

"The bottom line is you’ve gotta take care of yourself as well and get yourself…back to that level where you’re playing at the top end and if you do that everything will fall into place for you."

Recchi said that he had seen a top team go into a bit of a funk once before.

"It was very similar when I went to Carolina, they were in a little bit of a funk and took a couple weeks," he said.  "But there are 14 games left and we have to start building now and guys have to start getting their level of play up to where you’re comfortable with it and the coaching staff is comfortable with it.

"You’ve got to want to be good every night.

"San Jose’s gone through it, Calgary’s gone through it, or going through it, [and most of] the top teams that have been up there and playing well for most of the year are all somewhat going through it...and it’s who’s going to do the most to get out of it and get ready for this last stretch of games and the playoff drive."

So what is the veteran recommendation.

"We’ve got 14 games left and I think we have a great opportunity here," he said. "We’ve got to put a little bit of stretch here of some wins and then we’ve only got three games in a big stretch of days so it’s important we get on a little bit of a roll.

"But at the same time we’ve got a lot of rest time coming up where guys can really focus on whatever they need to do to get ready.

"You don’t get breaks like that at the end of the year too often, so we know what we’ve got at stake here," he said.

2:47 p.m.
Boston Bruins' Andrew Ference, right, clears the puck past Columbus Blue Jackets' Jason Williams during the first period of an NHL hockey game Tuesday, March 10, 2009, in Columbus, Ohio. (AP Photo/Jay LaPrete)
Coach Julien spoke to the media earlier today about his men taking care of themselves both on and off the ice, physically and mentally.

Recently, B’s defenseman Andrew Ference had many of the same sentiments regarding commitment during the final regular season push and what to expect come playoff time.

“It’s not so much about Xs and Os…it’s about guys, whether they’re young or old, just understanding that it’s very easy to waste a whole season by not making sure that, individually, you’re at the peak of your game,” said the B's blueliner on Wednesday.

“Whether that’s taking care of stuff off the ice or preparing yourself better before the games – really taking responsibility for your own play,” he added. “It’s not so much about mistakes on the ice or having a turnover or something like that, it’s just mentally, being strong as an individual and really committing yourself.”

Ference, who's had four assists in his last 10 games, noted that the Bruins must step up their attack with the end of the regular season looming so near. His advice: preparation.

“I don’t think we’ve had the repercussions that really fuel that fire and so it puts a lot more responsibility of yourself, on the individual, to make sure that he’s prepared, make sure that he understands that you can’t just flick a switch in April and all of a sudden be an intense competitor that’s got his head on straight.

“It’s March, and it’s time to quit messing around,” he said. “Other teams, as you can see, are really picking up their games, because there’s repercussions, you know they’re fighting for a playoff chance and every shift is magnified.”

But self-evaluation and criticism – in any profession – is easier said than done, he explained.

“It’s probably human nature try to protect yourself, and it’s hard to be brutally honest with how you’re actually doing,” he said. “It’s definitely not easy to take criticism, especially if the criticism is coming from yourself, but you have to eventually learn that if you’re going to be a good, consistent player.”

And consistency is ultimately the mark of a true professional.

“You cant look next to you; you’ve gotta be able to give yourself an honest review at the end of each night and know if you benefited the team, or if you just kind of were there. And there’s a big difference.”

Bitz had a big smile on his face this morning. No, not because he will see time at center tonight, although that might help, but because he was asked about Wednesday's online chat.

"I had a couple of my buddies from school text me," said Bitz. "They said that they were on there but their questions weren't being answered.

"I don't know what they were talking about -- I did my best."

Byron was clearly pleased with how things turned out.

"It was definitely fun," said Bitz. "It's always good to hear from the fans and hear the questions they have about day-to-day life in the NHL"

And there were quite a Cornell Big Red fans who chimed in.

"Thinking about college always brings a smile to my face," he said.

Click here to learn more about Covidien's Rinkside Chat series and to read a transcript of Byron's turn at the keyboard.

12:50 p.m.

Along with the news that Kessel and Krejci would play tonight, came word that Stephane Yelle would not suit up for the Black & Gold against the Senators.

That means that Byron Bitz may maintain the center spot on the energy line when the two teams take to the ice later this afternoon.

"Yeah I think he’s done a pretty good job there, so I imagine he’ll stay there tonight," said Julien of Bitz playing in the middle. "He’s played [center] most of his career...until he got to Providence last year, where, again, he played a lot at center last year.

"This was really his first year where they utilized him more in the wing -- we wanted to see that part of his game.

"So, going back to center is not really that big of an adjustment when you’ve played there for most of your career," he said.

12:18 p.m.
Boston Bruins' Milan Lucic (17) checks Phoneix Coyotes' Kyle Turris (91) during the second period of an NHL hockey game, Thursday, March 5, 2009, in Boston. (AP Photo/Michael Dwyer)
With the recent news out of the General Manager's meetings, fighting is on everyone's mind today.

Bruins forward Milan Lucic had a few thoughts on teammate Mark Stuart’s brawl with Jared Boll on Tuesday, and the nature of fighting (staged and otherwise) in the National Hockey League.

“Just let it be; just keep it the way it is,” said Lucic in regards to talk of banning fights at the pro level. “I think players do a pretty good job of controlling the situations.”

On Stuart's fight in particular, he noted that the tussel was more in defense of a linemate than to get the crowd going.

“It was kind of like a two-on-one type of thing and, you know it’s that time of the game, end of the second period, 0-0, and they were starting to get real physical...and Stu was just sticking up for his D-partner,” Lucic said. “That’s how most fights mostly happen, so I think -- they talk about the stage fighting [and] all that type of stuff -- but usually it happens because of things like that.

“It was a good [decision] for Stuey [to do] what he did,” he added.

But fighting, for real or otherwise, should never be instigated just for the sake of putting a solid player down.

“A clean hit’s a clean hit," said Lucic. "You shouldn’t have to fight just because you go out there and you make a good hit.”

11:44 a.m.
Okay. There was no formal morning skate, and just a few players participated: Kessel, Krejci, Hunwick, Hnidy and Fernandez. Coaches Ward and Houda ran the show.

Fernandez skating does not necessarily imply any news as to this evening's starter in goal.

Both Phil Kessel and David Krejci report that they will play this evening.

Hang tight for some larger updates. JB

8:50 a.m.

After the game in Columbus, Bruins head coach Claude Julien talked about the team's recent lack of commitment and after a Wednesday practice full of battle drills and instruction, Julien was asked if any of the activities were designed to enhance the B's commitment.

"A little bit," said Julien, who said that the issue was more mental than physical. "Those kind of things are good reminders, anyway."

Julien also spoke about the absence of forwards Phil Kessel and David Krejci from practice, as well as the recovery of Stephane Yelle.

"Hopefully we can get them in the lineup [on Thursday], but...we'll see."

Kessel had a spill into the boards on Tuesday.

Yelle skated with his linemates, but, as of yesterday afternoon, no decision had been made about his availability for tonight.

"[Stephane's] day to day," said Julien. "He's been cleared to practice, but he has not been cleared to play, yet."

Yelle was hurt against Chicago.
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