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Game Day: Sharks vs. Bruins

by John Bishop / Boston Bruins
San Jose Sharks center Joe Pavelski, left, and left wing Milan Michalek (9), of the Czech Republic, work to keep Boston Bruins defenseman Zdeno Chara (33), of Slovakia, from the puck in the third period of an NHL hockey game in Boston on Tuesday, Feb. 10, 2009. The Sharks won 5-2. (AP Photo/Elise Amendola)
San Jose 1 0 4-5

Boston     2 0 0-2

First Period-1, Boston, Lucic 12 (Savard, Wideman), 3:58. 2, San Jose, Blake 8 (Vlasic, Clowe), 7:18 (pp). 3, Boston, Lucic 13 (Nokelainen), 14:54.

Second Period-None.

Third Period-4, San Jose, Marleau 27 (Ehrhoff, Clowe), 3:32. 5, San Jose, Michalek 15 (Boyle, Clowe), 7:28. 6, San Jose, J.Thornton 13 (Setoguchi, Marleau), 9:48. 7, San Jose, Grier 10 (Marleau, Plihal), 19:31 (en).

Shots on Goal-San Jose 6-13-12-31. Boston 13-10-7-30.

Goalies-San Jose, Nabokov. Boston, Thomas. A-17,565 (17,565). T-2:22.
Third period recap:
Determined to prove that age and experience trump the fresh faces of the Bruins hockey club, the San Jose Sharks put three unanswered shots past the goal line in the final period of tonight’s contest to close out the only showdown between the league’s top two teams.

Marleau, who had a near goal during the final seconds of the second, found the top of the net on a tip past Thomas at 16:28 in the final 20-minute run. Just four minutes later, a drop pass to Sharks forward Milan Michalek was rifled past Thomas, glove side, for a top-shelf score.

But it wasn’t a complete night for the visiting Sharks, however, until former Bruin Joe Thornton could cap off the score to make it 4-2, San Jose. In the final thirty seconds, former Boston University forward Mike Grier put it in the empty net to finalize the 5-2 victory.

Lucic, the only Bruin to tally a goal tonight, played a solid game with a number of perfect cross-ice passes and fearless scuffles in front of the net, but was unable to pull the Bruins out of their third period slump.

0:00 - End of Game. San Jose wins, 5-2.

28.6 - Grier scores into an open net.

44.8 - Savard is stopped with another two-pad stack.

1:08 - Chara wrister from the point. Nabokov with a save. He holds on. Timeout Boston.

1:26 - Timmy is out...

1:48 - Save, Thomas.

2:10 - Good kill by SJS.

3:30 - Wideman broke his stick on the point shot...

4:24 - Blake Wheeler is pulled down on the way to the goal. Boston will get a late PP.

5:44 - Lucic with some good work deep in the Sharks zone, he gets the puck to Kessel who shoots and is stopped.

6:51 - Thomas has to be strong on the post against Michalek.

8:03 - B's offsides.

9:05 - Boston is on the power play. Cheechoo is in the box.

9:09 - Big hit by Grier.

10:12 - Thornton scores. It's 4-2. Yuck.

12:32 - Michalek beats Thomas. And it is getting pretty quiet in here. Its 3-2, SJS.

12:40 - Kobasew with a big hit on Murray.

13:19 - Plihal puts one into Thomas' pads. Tim holds on.

13:57 - Timmy stops Marleau on the doorstep...

14:30 - Ward derails a Sharks breakout with a big hit on Pavelski.

16:28 - That looked like it was coming. Marleau was left by himself just outside Timmy's crease and roofed it. It's 2-2. Shots are 24-20, Boston.

17:26 - More terrific play from the Yelle line...

Seen in the crowd, the best sign of the night: Bears eat Fish.

17:54 - Offsides, Boston.

18:44 - Big hit by Lucic on Boyle.

20:00 - Third Period. It's another sell out here at the Garden. 17,565.
BOSTON - FEBRUARY 10: Evgeni Nabokov #20 of the San Jose Sharks watches the play against Milan Lucic #17 of the Boston Bruins at the TD Banknorth Garden on February 10, 2009 in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Brian Babineau/NHLI via Getty Images)
Second period recap: A tense 20 minutes of back-and-forth skating, a few pileups and a little more pushing and shoving than what play necessitated resulted more in the oohs and ahhs of the crowd than a whole lot of action (or shots) at either goal.

Lucic, who’s already tallied two goals on the night, has all but planted himself at the San Jose doorstep, waiting patiently for that coveted hat trick. And he’s sure had some chances – for instance, a drop pass from Bruins forward Phil Kessel late in the period that nearly secured the third goal for the B’s rookie, but no to avail.

A literally last second attempt by Sharks forward Patrick Marleau was stuffed by Thomas as the benches cleared for the final stanza of the night.

San Jose had 13 shots on, while Boston put only 10 on net. Bruins forward Petteri Nokelainen did not return from the intermission due to an undisclosed injury.

0:00 - Thomas finshed the period with two outstanding saves. Boston leads 2-1. Shots are 23-19, Bruins.

1:28 - Shortly after Lucic slammed Cheechoo, Stuart went down with an injury.

2:15 - Big hit by Bitz on Murray. The Shark went to the bench and slammed his stick down.

2:45 - Bergeron just couldn't connect in front.

3:01 - Tim with a save through a crowd.

3:39 - It's gotten pretty sloppy...

4:15 - Injury update from the Bruins: Nokelainen will not return.

8:10 - Tim made a save on old friend (from BU) Mike Grier. Shots are 23-14, Boston.

9:05 - Savard, robbed, by a Nobokov two-pad stack.

10:04 - Pile up in front of Timmy. Nothing important happened. Just some hurt feelings.

13:35 - Setoguchi got a partial breakaway, but Thomas turned his bid aside.

16:37 - Nabokov has been the Sharks best PK'er. And he makes a nother save to slow the B's PP down.

17:50 - Big Zee pounds a shot into the padding of Nabokov, who holds on for a draw.

18:21 - Boyle is in the box -- not for a high stick -- but for a trip. Boston has a five-on-three for 49-seconds.

19:32 -Setoguchi is in the box for goalie interference.

20:00 - Start of the Second. Go Luch Go!
BOSTON - FEBRUARY 10: Evgeni Nabokov #20 of the San Jose Sharks makes a save against Marc Savard #91 of the Boston Bruins at the TD Banknorth Garden on February 10, 2009 in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Brian Babineau/NHLI via Getty Images)
First period recap: The Boston Garden was quickly divided into East and West tonight as the Boston Bruins and San Jose Sharks, the top dogs in their respective conferences, lined up to a full house for their first matchup of the season.

Only 3:58 into the first period, Bruins forward Milan Lucic found the back of the net for the Black & Gold –– a rebound from linemates Dennis Wideman and Marc Savard. But just a few minutes later, San Jose answered the challenge when, during a power play, Sharks defenseman Rob Blake put the puck off a B’s defenseman to slide one past Thomas.

At 1-1, the game, and the crowd, was pretty even-keel. Lucic then put a second one home, eliciting as many boos from the San Jose fans as applause from the hometown fans to put the fire back on the ice.

Boston rounded out the period with a total of 13 shots on goal, while the Sharks could only manage six after a mid-period slump in possession.

0:00 - End of the First. Boston leads 2-1. And the B's lead in shots, 13-6.

26.4 - Dan Boyle bloodied Nokelainen and caught him high near the eye with his stick. Nokelainen made it to the Boston bench and is under the care of Don DelNegro, but Boyle is going to the box -- maybe for a while.

Or maybe not. No call? Very strange.

37.0 Terrific shift for the Yelle line...

1:58 - No less than three scoring chances thus far on the PP. Puck out of play. Faceoff in the SJS end.

3:45 -Michalek is in the box for San Jose. Hooking.

4:31 - Kiss cam. A big hit with the patrons. Funny because it came after the first mini-altercation of the evening. Chara and Lemieux were jabbering at each other.

5:06 - Lucic! Goal number two on the evening. He skated the puck in, dished to Nokelainen, who shot. Lucic put in the rebound. Nice goal. 2-1, Boston. Shots are 10-6, Boston.

6:24 - Nabokov handles a bouncing biscuit and kicks it out of harm's way.

7:08 - San Jose's turn. They keep the B's bottled up in their zone.

8:01 - Kessel with a sneaky reabound bid on a Lucic shot. It was turned away by Nabokov.

10:02 - Icing Boston.

11:14 - Byron Bitz with some real hard work down in the corner in the San Jose zone.

12:42 - That went in off a Bruins stick/skate. No chance for Timmy. Give the goal to Blake.

13:13 - Oustanding defensive shift by Marc Savard...

14:29 - Bergeron goes to the box and Patrice was very angry at the tripping call. San Jose gets their first PP chance.

15:06 - Thomas cools off a San Jose chance and holds on for a faceoff.

16:02 - A swarm of Black & Gold pounded that puck through Nabokov. Dennis WIdeman skated into the slot and fired, the rebound came to Marc Savard and Milan Lucic who, with a combined shot, put it away. Give the goal to Lucic.

Outstanding effort for Boston to get the first goal. It's 1-0, Boston.

16:37 - Kobasew made Nabokov work pretty hard for a right leg save.

18:24 - Thomas' first save.

19:20 - Lucic just missed on a cross-crease pass by Kessel...

19:32 - Puck out of play. Aaron Ward came very close to a penalty.

19:57 - San Jose won the draw.

20:00 - Start of the First Period. Loudest cheer in pregame was for Tim Thomas.

San Jose Starters: Blake, Marleau, Setoguchi, Thornton, Vlasic, Nabokov
Boston Starters: Chara, Ward, Axelsson, Bergeron, Kobasew, Thomas

BTW: In case you haven't noticed, Claude Lemieux is playing for San Jose tonight.

Switching to time on the clock...

6:41 p.m.
The lines...
Lucic - Savard - Kessel
Axelsson - Bergeron - Kobasew
Wheeler - Krejci - Nokelainen
Thornton - Yelle - Bitz
Chara - Ward
Ference - Wideman
Stuart - Hnidy

Hunwick, Ryder

6:29 p.m.
Tim Thomas is in goal for Boston. He will face Evgeni Nabokov.

Thomas is expected to start in goal today for the Bruins. This marks the 200th game of his NHL and Bruins career. Thomas has a 24-5-5 record this season, a .932 save percentage, which leads all NHL goaltenders, and a 2.10 Goals Against Average, which ranks second.

A mixed reaction for Joe Thornton as he hit the ice for warmups...

5:29 p.m.
Press Box Notes
This Jan. 10, 1009 file photo shows Boston Bruins' Michael Ryder during their hockey game against the Carolina Hurricanes in Boston. The Boston Bruins will be without forward Michael Ryder for up to three weeks as he recovers from surgery to repair a broken face bone. Bruins general manager Peter Chiarelli said Tuesday Feb. 10, 2009 that Ryder had surgery Monday on the orbital bone between his ey
Bruins General Manager Peter Chiarelli announced earlier today that Michael Ryder underwent successful surgery yesterday, February 9, to repair multiple fractures of the frontal sinus.

The surgery was performed by Dr. Mack Cheney at the Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary. Ryder is expected to miss two to three weeks. He suffered the injury during the Bruins’ 4-3 shootout victory in Ottawa on February 5.

Other stories...
  • The Bruins have taken points out of their last nine games (6-0-3) and are 10-1-3 in their last 14.
  • Following tonight’s game, the Bruins will play their next five games on the road at New Jersey (2/13), Nashville (2/14), Carolina (2/17), Florida (2/21) and Tampa Bay (2/22).
  • San Jose is visiting the TD Banknorth Garden for the first time since January 10, 2006, when the Sharks defeated the Bruins 6-2.
  • Ex-Bruin and current Shark Joe Thornton is expected to face his former team for the third time since being dealt from Boston to San Jose on November 30, 2005 for Marco Sturm, Wayne Primeau and Brad Stuart. After being drafted by the Bruins with the 1st overall pick in the 1997 NHL Entry Draft, Thornton played 532 games for the Bruins in seven-plus seasons while posting 169-285-454 totals.
  • Tonight’s game features the Eastern Conference-leading Bruins and Western Conference-leading Sharks.
  • San Jose is in the midst of a five-game road trip. The Sharks lost 3-2 in overtime to Columbus on February 7, play the Bruins in Boston tonight and then visit Pittsburgh (2/11), Buffalo (2/13) and New Jersey (2/15).
  • Here’s a breakdown of how the teams stack up statistically, with their respective NHL ranks as of this morning in (parentheses):
              Pts.       Goals For    Against    Differential    PP%         PK%
BOS:     85 (1)   188 (2)        121 (3)     +67 (1)          23.3 (4)     82.4 (12)
SJS:     79 (2)    172 (t4)       119 (2)     +53 (2)          23.2 (5)     85.4 (4)

5:04 p.m.
NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman is in the building and just made a run through the Bruins front office.

4:55 p.m.
Boston Bruins' Milan Lucic, right, checks Philadelphia Flyers' Ossi Vaananen, of Finland, into the glass during the second period of the Flyers' 4-3 overtime win in an NHL hockey game in Boston, Saturday, Feb. 7, 2009. (AP Photo/Winslow Townson)
Milan Lucic spoke about Joe's return to the Garden.

"They're at the top of the West and we're at the top of the East," said Lucic. "So, obviously, it's a big game tonight and right now I think, for us, we just have to look forward to the challenge.

"We know it's going to be a tough, hard-fought battle and we've just got to go out there, have fun with it and play our game."

But then he dropped the cliches.

"We know that [Thornton] is going to be excited and is excited to be back," said Lucic. "I think that there are a lot of fans who still do miss him, but obviously we have to be hard on him and we do have to key on him.

"We can't make this a nice welcome for him."

Lucic was smiling as he said the last bit and was asked about the grin.

"With guys like him you have to be hard on them," said Lucic. "He's arguably one of the best players in the league and that's the way you have to play against them."

4:34 p.m.
Montreal Canadiens' Tom Kostopoulos, left, checks Boston Bruins' Mark Stuart into the boards during an NHL hockey game in Montreal, Sunday, Feb., 1, 2009. Bruins won 3-1. (AP Photo/The Canadian Press,Graham Hughes)
I asked Mark Stuart about having to defend against Joe Thornton and the San Jose Sharks.

"I think the biggest thing with him is to make sure you have your stick on the puck," said Stuart. "He's a big body that's really good at finding guys.

"He's a really good passer, so you have to keep him to the outside and make sure your stick is in the lane and taking away some of his options."

But as opposed to Ovechkin or Crosby or even Marc Savard, Thornton's game can be somewhat stationary.

"He's very patient and he waits for openings and he's extremely good at finding guys," said Stuart. "We've got to play him hard...because he's going to wait you out and make a good pass."

Not to mention there is some pride on the line.

"It's a big game and a bit of a measuring stick," said Stuart. "It's another two points that we want and we need.

"And we have to bounce back after a loss to Philly."

4:16 p.m.

Before things get tense...
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)
Axelsson to Visit BJ's Wholesale Club in Revere on Wednesday for "P.J.'s Pajama Drive "  

On Wednesday, February 11, Boston Bruins forward P.J. Axelsson and his wife Siw are visiting the BJ's Wholesale Club in Revere, MA, from 2:30 p.m. until 4:30 p.m. for a meet-and-greet to benefit P.J.'s Pajama Drive (BJ's Wholesale Club, 5 Ward St., Revere, MA 02151). Axelsson will be signing autographs and taking photos with everyone that donates a new, unused pair of pajamas to P.J.’s Pajama Drive.

P.J. Axelsson, Cradles to Crayons, and BJ’s Wholesale Club teamed up for the Second Annual P.J.'s Pajama Drive to benefit Massachusetts' children in need. The Drive officially kicked off Monday, February 2.  Throughout the month of February, fans, families, schools and corporations are encouraged to make donations to help underprivileged children statewide.

To wrap up the Drive, the Boston Bruins will have an in-game pajama collection on February 28th at the Bruins' home game against the Washington Capitals. Fans participating in the Pajama Drive on the 28th will also receive a raffle ticket for each pair of pajamas donated for the chance to win Boston Bruins team autographed memorabilia.

In addition to the meet-and-greet with Axelsson at the Revere location, BJ's members can purchase and donate new pajamas at any of the 20 BJ’s Massachusetts locations.

Axelsson and his wife Siw started P.J.'s Pajama Drive during the 2007-08 season as a way of giving back to their community. They collected 1,600 pairs of pajamas for Cradles to Crayons. This year’s goal is 7,000.

For more information on P.J.'s Pajama Drive and how to donate, visit

WHO: Boston Bruins forward P.J. Axelsson

WHAT: Axelsson meet-and-greet with all fans donating a pair of pajamas

WHEN: Wednesday, February 11, from 2:30 p.m. - 4:30 p.m.

WHERE: BJ's Wholesale Club, 5 Ward St. Revere, MA 02151

3:51 p.m.
Peter Chiarelli
Both Chiarelli and Julien spoke to their clubs focus going into tonight's tilt.

"The way I’ve looked at these past couple of weeks, because we’ve played three or four teams that are kind of big, strong teams -- and this does include San Jose -- I think it’s a good test," said Chiarelli. "Obviously, [the Sharks] have the best record in the West and we’re the best in the East so from that viewpoint it’s going to be a good game.

"But, I’ve just looked at the Washington’s, the New Jersey’s, the Philly’s, and the San Jose’s and how we’ve matched up against them because that’s going to be like playoff hockey.

"So this is just like another test in that respect," he said.

Like most people in Boston, the Bruins GM is happy with the team's progress.

"Yeah, I think our record speaks for itself," he said, before pointing out that the club is less than perfec.

"Losing leads -- you never like to lose leads --but that stuff happens.Lucky bounces happens for us and against us. The other night it happened against us.

"So I’ve been, yeah, I’ve been satisfied."

Julien concurred.

"We are where we are because of how we handled those situations," said the coach. "I think you’ve seen throughout the year that different types of games we’ve been able to adjust and handle well and come out on the winning end more often than not.

"So, again [the Bruins go] through adversity, and like every other team, we have injuries. Some teams don’t handle it as well as others. 

"But I think we’ve held our own so far and hopefully that will continue."

Hopefully that continues tonight.

"Obviously, with the fact that we’re in different conferences we don’t see each other very often," said Julien. "So I think that no doubt the two teams are looking forward to this.

"Hopefully, this it becomes a real entertaining game tonight; [the] selfish part of it [being] I hope we end up winning it."

12:54 p.m.
More on Ryder...
Boston Bruins coach Claude Julien works in the third period against the Pittsburgh Penguins in an NHL hockey game in Pittsburgh on Tuesday, Dec. 30, 2008. The Bruins won 5-2. At left on bench is Bruins' Michael Ryder, at right is Vladimir Sobotka of the Czech Republic. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)
Small fractures in his face will keep Michael Ryder out of the lineup for at least a couple of weeks.

"He actually thought he was going to play before we found out and detected the little fractures," said B's GM Peter Chiarelli, who conceded that the two-to-three week timetable was relatively good news after seeing the aftermath of the stick striking the forward's face. "It’s not as bad as first expected."

Chiarelli was asked whether Ryder's injury would hurt the Bruins as the trade deadline draws nearer.

"No, not really," said the GM. "If these guys detect a weakness the price will go up.

"[But] in most cases, you’ve had discussions over a period of times where you just can’t back track if you’re that deep into discussions.

"I’m not that deep into discussions. I’m just talking generally," he said.

Chiarelli praised Ryder for bringing the skills that the Bruins thought he had when they signed him last July.

"He’s got 19 goals, but I like his strength on the puck too and...I like his play off the wall," said Chiarelli. "He’s a strong player -- I mean you can be a scorer and not a strong player and he’s played well defensively.

"He’s fit in to our system and there is not many who can shoot the puck like him."

Chiarelli said that he assumed Michael will be wearing some sort of facial protection when he gets back.

"I think just that he’s going to want to use a visor," said the B's boss. "It may be that at some point he takes it off again or he keeps it on, I don’t know."

A few minutes later, Bruins head coach Claude Julien also spoke about Ryder.

"He just had surgery yesterday," he said when asked his opinion of the diagnosis and how it would fit into his own gameplan. "I guess as a coach you’re going to work with what you’ve got.

"Right now I don’t have him.

"As far as knowing when he’s going to come back, it all depends on how he heals.  It’s a big loss for our team, but certainly something that we’ve had to deal with for quite a few times this year so we’re used to it."

Big loss-wise, Julien explained Ryder's worth.

"I think everybody that’s watched him this year knows he’s done a great job at play at both ends of the ice," said Julien, echoing his own comments from Monday. "That’s why he’s a big ‘plus’ player, you’ve seen him throw his weight around.

"He’s shown...that he can be a physical player as well and he continues to show that he can score goals and be strong on the puck.

"I think he’s really found his grove again, hopefully there’s more to come."

10:54 a.m.
Breaking News...
Michael Ryder will be out 2-3 weeks, but will resume physical activity soon. At this point, the B's have no intention of altering their roster.

"[Michael] had three small fractures in the bridge of the nose, around the orbital," said Bruins general manager Peter Chiarelli. "He had surgery yesterday.

"He's recovering. The surgery was successful. He had three plates put in and he's home right now.

"He'll be out, probably two to three weeks  and should be back riding a bike in two or three days."

10:27 a.m.
Peter Chiarelli will speak to the press at 10:35. Claude Julien at 10:45.

9:02 a.m.

Boston Bruins' Dennis Widman (6) celebrates with Andrew Ference (21) after Widman scored against the Philadelphia Flyers in the third period of an NHL hockey game Wednesday, Feb. 4, 2009, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/H. Rumph Jr)
Having played regularly in the Western Conference against the San Jose Sharks, Andrew Ference understands the fuss about the return of "Jumbo" Joe Thornton.

"Well, I mean he's, obviously he's got size," said the Bruins defenseman. "It's not like he really uses his size and physical sense where he's pounding guys or driving to the net super-hard or anything, but as a defenseman, he's good at using his size to protect the puck.

"He finds his little spot on the half-wall – if you watch him, especially on the power play, he probably moves a total of 10 feet the whole time.

"He just stays over there on the half-wall, but it's for a good reason; he's good at passing from there, he's good at receiving it, and protecting it if he gets pressured."

But in the same way the Bruins were prepared to face Crosby, Malkin, Ovechkin and Kovalev, they feel prepared to face off against Thornton and the San Jose Sharks.

"In that sense, it's a good thing we have our own big guy [in Zdeno Chara] to kind of counteract his ability to fend off defenders," said Ference. "It's a lot different for me to try to get the puck away from him if he gets his [rear end] out there, but it's another thing if Zee's using his reach to go around him.

"He's definitely one of those guys that, as a smaller defenseman, he's tough to get the puck off of, and it's more of a containing game, just try to minimize the most dangerous passes."

Ference hopes that the matchup with San Jose reinvigorate the Bruins game.

"There's definitely no excuse for getting a little snoozy or anything like that," said Ference. "It's something that's been on the horizon for the last couple of weeks.

"We knew this was kind of a game that was going to cap off a very tough stretch of games...and then we obviously move on to some more games coming up here."

But taking on the Sharks will not be a walk in the park.

"I think both sides probably have something to prove," said Ference. "For us, as much as we
just want to prove ourselves against another top team, just like when Detroit comes in here, or any top team for that matter, but especially against a team that, not only are you starting to get towards the end of the year, but you look for your battles, and our battle is right now with another team that's extremely hot out west.

"Points-wise, yeah, we want to get those points [and] in the long term, we want to be successful in the playoffs. But in the short term, you want to be number one."

During a long regular season, a game like tonight's brings a playoff atmosphere back to the rink.

"You want to win that little side competition; it's almost like a side bet," said Ference of the quest for number one in the NHL. "Those little victories, they all add up, they're all part of a positive year. 

"Obviously, people don't give two shakes about the year if you don't do well in the playoffs,
but those little victories, whether it be divisional or conference or league, those mean a lot, as far as just positive reinforcement and morale boosters."
Angela Latona contributed to this report.
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