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Notebook: Bruins 4, Rangers 3, SO

by Tom Halkin / Boston Bruins
A familiar situation...

For the third straight game the Bruins needed at least an extra period to decide their fate.  Last Saturday in Philadelphia, the Bruins were able to pull out a victory in the 5:00 session on the strength of an Aaron Ward slapper.  Thursday night the B’s battled the Maple Leafs through the extra frame and into a shootout, but were unable to sneak any rubber past Vesa Toskala. Luckily, the black and gold came out on the winning end of a shootout, defeating the Rangers 4-3. It was also the third straight Bruins-Rangers game to be decided by a shootout - with the team’s splitting the previous two.

Tim Thomas stopped both shots he faced from New York’s Brendan Shanahan and Petr Prucha, while Zdeno Chara and Phil Kessel converted for the Bruins.

Chuck Kobasew led things off, but the pad of Henrik Lundqvist turned his shot away.  After Thomas had turned aside Shanahan’s bid, Kessel was able to put a move on Lundqvist and slip a shot through his five-hole.

“I just went down, forehand deked, and slid it threw his legs,” said Kessel afterwards. “I made a move and got lucky; he’s obviously a good goalie, so whenever you get a chance to score on him it’s fortunate.”

With Thomas’s subsequent stop on Prucha, Chara could end the game before New York a even had a chance to put it’s last skater on the ice - and he did, skating in until he was about 20 feet from the net and then ripping a slap shot by Lundqvist.

Chara’s shootout goal, and the fact that he was even in the shootout, was the talk of the room after the game.

“I’m probably not the best stickhandler, so I decided to shoot the puck,” said Chara. “Sometime you just have to keep it simple, and shoot.”

Kessel had a little laugh over Chara’s strategy, and when asked if he would ever employ such a move the forward chuckled, “I don’t know about that, probably not, but he did his thing, took a slapper and it went it, so we got a win.”

Thomas also had a laugh, but then turned serious in his explanation of why the simple slap shot worked.

“I think he’s better at it this year,” said Thomas referring to Chara’s slap shot shootout goal from last season. “He’s practiced it in practice, and I think that has made him better at it.  It’s a lot of surprise; it’s something you have to be ready for as a goalie.”

Julien explained that he decided to go with Z because, of a need to mix things up.
“I think he is 2-2, so he’s been pretty good in the shootout," said Julien. “We do things in practice. Sometimes we do these kind of drills, and you kind of keep track of who’s doing well. And it’s a situation where we haven’t had a lot of luck in shootouts this year and have had guys struggle in that area. So sometimes you got to try something, something a little different. I just had that good feeling. I think everybody in the building knew what he was going to do, but he still got the job done.”

Chara agreed.

“Once in a while you just have to change the routine, and maybe throw some guys that don’t get the chance often to do the shootout, and in this case I guess it worked.”

But when the big man was asked of his other thoughts on the shootout, the captain kept his cards close.

“I don’t want to give away all the moves I have,” he laughed.

The B’s are now 4-5 overall in games that have gone to overtime on the season, with a 2-2 record in sessions ending in the 5-minute span and 2-3 when they progress to a shootout.

It was also Kessel’s sixth deciding shootout goal of his short NHL career.  He is now 6/12 (50%) overall in his career.

Former Eagle Flies High
After starting the season off on a torrid pace, former Boston College Eagle Chuck Kobasew had cooled off of late, going scoreless in his last seven games.  However, the forward snapped back into form against the Rangers notching his second 2-goal game of the season, scoring twice on the power play.

With his two tallies chuck regains the team lead in goals with 16.  One of Kobasew’s markers was highlight material, as the crafty forward was able to beat Lundqvist while sliding on his knees.

“It felt like it had been quite awhile (since he last scored), so it was nice to get one there,” said Kobasew afterwards.

For more Chuck’s big day click here...

- Marco Sturm, marc Savard, Phil Kessel, Zdeno Chara, and Denis Wideman all recorded points today for the Bruins, adding to their stellar numbers of late.

- With 2-points this afternoon, a goal and an assist, Sturm now has 3-2-5 totals in his last three games, with 4-4-8 totals in his last seven.

- Savard, adding an assist today, is now 1-5-6 in his last four games, and 3-6-9 in his last eight games.

- Kessel improves to 0-4-4 in his last four games, with his helper tonight.

- Chara, with an assist today, has 2-8-10 totals in his last eight games.

- With his helper today, Wideman is now 0-3-3 in the last two games.

Still ailing...
For the second straight game forwards P.J. Axelsson and Peter Schaefer sat out, Axelsson with a bruised foot, and Schaefer with flu-like symptoms.  While the injury/flu bug has hit the Bruins hard lately, the players that are able to skate have been battling hard lately, earning points in all of their last three games, going 2-0-0-1.

“Guys are going all out, being sick, shorthanded, doesn’t matter,” said Thomas afterwards.  “I think you’ll look back at the end of the year this could some of the biggest games we played.”

Kids...Children in the room! And they are not from Providence.
Though the locker room was already bustling with the excitement of a nice shootout win, some of the Bruins’ kids made their way into the room to see their dads.  It was a very nice sight, and the joy on their faces brightened an already positive atmosphere.

Patriot's Day Eve
With Patriots preparing to take on the San Diego Chargers tomorrow in the AFC Championship game, the playoff atmosphere was in the air at the TD BankNorth Garden.  The crowd let out some loud cheers when the intermission guest riding-along on the Zamboni held up a New England Patriot’s flag as the resurfacer circled the ice, and again when the video board showed images of fans in pats gear, and then again as animation of the Pat's logo blasting through that of the Chargers.

And with Bruins and Rangers coming into the game tied for the eight and final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference, and playing back-to-back games this weekend the stakes were high for our local hockey club too, and it was clear.

“It felt like a playoff game, you know we are close in the standings and we got our little weekend series here, so it was a good one,” said Kobasew afterwards.
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