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Manny Happy, Returns With Chuck

by Angela Stefano / Boston Bruins
Boston, MA -- Saturday's game against the Buffalo Sabres marked the return of two important Boston Bruins players, both of whom showed up in a big way to contribute to the team’s 3-1 win. Veteran goalie Manny Fernandez, who sat on the bench graciously during Tim Thomas' recent hot streak, continued a streak of his own and earned his third win of the season. Meanwhile, Chuck Kobasew scored his first goal of the campaign in just his second game of the season.

Manny’s Back
Boston Bruins' Manny Fernandez makes a save on his way to defeating the Ottawa Senators 4-2 in NHL hockey action at the Scotiabank Place in Ottawa, Ontario, on Saturday Oct. 18, 2008.(AP Photo/The Canadian Press,/Sean Kilpatrick)
Tonight's game marked the return of Fernandez to the Boston net as the veteran goalie earned his first chance between the pipes in five games. His last start was an October 25 win against the Atlanta Thrashers.

“I just tried keep having fun with the guys – a little bit in practice this morning,” said Fernandez, who also said he “just took it easy” at home after learning he would play tonight.

“I just didn’t try to put too much on my shoulders.”

That said, Fernandez stood tall on Saturday and earned a measure of revenge for the Bruins last go-around against the Buffalo Sabres – a 3-2 shootout loss.

“I think it took the first period to kind of get adjusted to their play, maybe the guys get adjusted to me, who knows,” said Fernandez.  “But after that, we seemed to kill a penalty (well), and that kind of got the momentum going in our favor.”

Looking very sharp after his layoff, Fernandez stopped 32 shots and earned plenty praise.

“He and I have been together a lot lately, shooting pucks, and he’s been playing really well lately,” said Kobasew.  “He was composed out there tonight.  Didn’t give them any rebounds, [made] huge saves for us, especially in that third period.”

With tonight’s win, Fernandez is now 3-1-1 on the season.

“It’s the type of game you want: they’re shooting from the outside, and you try to keep the rebounds on your side in your favor,” the goaltender said.  “I tried to put them to the corners as much as I could, not cough anything up in the middle, and just try my best.

“The more you get, the better you get, so it just seemed to work my way tonight.”

Even before the contest, Bruins head coach Claude Julien said that having two solid goalies makes life behind the bench easier.

“We’re going to keep taking advantage of it,” said Julien, “and that’s a position, I think right now, with certain injuries, there are some teams out there that wish they had our situation.”

Chuckie Says He Was Lucky
Boston Bruins right wing Chuck Kobasew (12) gets tangled up with Buffalo Sabres defenseman Jaroslav Spacek (6), of Czech Republic, in the first period of an NHL hockey game, Saturday, Nov. 8, 2008 in Boston. Boston won 3-1. (AP Photo/Adam Hunger)
Kobasew also returned to the Bruins lineup tonight in a big way. After missing the last 12 games with a leg injury he sustained in the team’s season opener on October 9, the former Boston College Eagle was a difference-maker thanks to his physical play and penchant for putting the puck on net.

“It felt good,” said Kobasew.  “My timing’s still a bit off, but other than that, it was good to be out there.”

Coach Julien put Kobasew on the fourth line.

“You don’t want to disrupt the lineup as much as you can,” said Julien after morning skate.  “It’s the easiest decision to make when your team’s not going well and [when] you’re trying to change things.

“There’s no hesitation there.

"But when your team is going well, it becomes a real hard decision to make," he said.

Forward Petteri Nokelainen was the healthy scratch tonight.

“This is a position, unfortunately, that coaches probably prefer to be in, rather than having to make those easy ones that are usually for the wrong reason.”

But placing Kobasew on the fourth line gave him the chance to play, while also not putting too much extra pressure on him.

“We can’t all of a sudden put him in a situation where we expect him to carry the (offensive) load,” said Julien.  “He’s going to be a little nervous, and I think we just have to make sure we put him in a position…to succeed.”

At first, the successes were small, but important, and during the first period, Kobasew earned an assist on a goal by Dennis Wideman. 

Then, uncharacteristically, Kobasew nearly started a fight by the Buffalo bench with Maxim Afinogenov near the end of the first period.  The B's right wing swatted at the Sabres forward, who had previously been a pest to the Black & Gold's Marco Sturm

However, the two were quickly separated.

“They’ve got some guys that play physical, so we had to counter that,” said Kobasew, before adding said that he did not try too hard to get involved with Afinogenov.

“We just got mixed up trying to go to our benches,” Kobasew somewhat sheepishly.  “Nothing much was happening there.”

During the second period, the night's successes got a little bigger for the right wing when Kobasew scored Boston’s second goal of the night at just 2:47. 

“Just being able to get the puck on net there, it makes it a little bit better,” he said.  “You can relax a bit and just try and go out and play your game.”

Off a pass from linemate Shawn Thornton, Kobasew took a wrist shot from the right side of the net, which went off Buffalo defenseman Teppo Numminen’s skate and over goalie Ryan Miller’s glove. 

“I got lucky,” he said.  “It was kind of a wide one.  I tried to get a shot off, and I think it caught a piece of the shin pad or skate, and redirected.”
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