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Pregame Notebook: Game 4 at Tampa Bay

by Hannah Becker / Boston Bruins – The Boston Bruins look to win their third straight game this afternoon as the face the Tampa Bay Lightning in Game 4 of the Eastern Conference Finals.

In their first finals appearance since 1992, Boston opened up a single game lead against Tampa (2-1) with a 2-0 win Thursday night in the St. Petes Times Forum.

The B’s have been a better team on the road all season and look to continue that trend in today’s Game 4 match-up.

The Bruins know they are just two wins away from the Stanley Cup Finals, but on Friday Head Coach Claude Julien said his team is just focused on this afternoon’s match-up.

“We don’t want to live in the past, yesterday was yesterday, tomorrow is what we want to talk about. We want to live in the present,” Julien said.

“That’s what we’ve been doing since the start and that’s what has helped us get through it from the start.”

Game 3 Recap
Boston opened the scoring just 1:09 into the game with David Krejci’s seventh goal of the postseason. The tally was assisted by Krejci’s linemate, Milan Lucic who recorded his fifth point of the playoffs. 

Krejci scores against Tampa Bay Lightning goalie Dwayne Roloson , left, in the first period of Game 3 of the NHL hockey Stanley Cup Eastern Conference final playoff series on Thursday, May 19, 2011, in Tampa, Fla. (AP Photo/Chris O'Meara)
The Bruins fed off the momentum Krejci’s goal gave them, and although the B’s were outshot 10-8 in the period, dominated most of the .

Boston had multiple scoring opportunities and won 14 of 18 draws. Bergeron won five of seven faceoffs while Krejci was a perfect six for six in the first.

“Tonight’s game probably resembled a lot more of what everyone expected from this series. Two teams that can make it hard for you to score and I thought tonight our team was very good in regards to that,” Julien said.

“We made some stronger plays, some better decisions and we seemed a little bit more.”

The second period saw more even play between the two teams, but Boston continued to control in the offensive zone and put 12 shots on Tampa goaltender Dwayne Roloson. The Bolts managed just six shots on the B’s netminder Tim Thomas.

The Bruins also had two power play opportunities in the second. They came up short on both, but spent almost the entirety of the second man-advantage in Tampa’s zone, forcing the Bolts to use a time out with just over 40 seconds left in the period. 

Boston carried the momentum from a strong final shift into the third period. 

It took almost 12 minutes of third period play, but the Bruins were able to build to their lead with an Andrew Ference blast from the point late in the period that sealed the 2-0 victory.

Bergeron’s impact
Forward Patrice Bergeron’s return to the Bruins lineup on Thursday night in Game 3 was evident in more ways than one.

Bergeron (37) starts a break up-ice against the Tampa Bay Lightning during the first period in Game 3 of an NHL hockey Stanley Cup playoffs Eastern Conference final series Thursday, May 19, 2011 in Tampa, Fla. Bergeron was in the lineup for Game 3 of the Eastern Conference finals after missing two games because of a concussion. (AP Photo/Chris O'Meara)
Arguably Boston’s best player this postseason, Bergeron made an impact in all three zones, in the faceofff circle and on special teams.  Bergeron took the opening draw and went on to skate for 19:13 of ice time.  He spent 1:44 on the power play and 1:23 on the penalty kill. 

“He’s one of our best two-way payers, so you regain one of your best players when it comes to that and that’s a big boost for our hockey club,” B’s head coach Claude Julien said.

Bergeron recorded two shots on goal and took a two-minute interference penalty that prevented Adam Hall from making a breakaway to Boston’s zone. In the faceoff circle, Bergeron won 18 of 28 draws.

Thursday night marked the 25-year-old’s first game in almost two weeks after he suffered a mild concussion in Boston’s deciding Game 4 against Philadelphia in the Eastern Conference Semi-finals.

“I really felt that Patrice [Bergeron] looked like a guy who hadn’t missed a step. You would have never known that he’d been almost two weeks without playing a game,” Julien said.

“He was right where he had left off, so I thought that was pretty impressive of him to be able to come back that way,” he continued.

“When guys go through what they went through, they would have a right to be a little cautious and he wasn’t cautious, he was confident, he knew he felt good and he knew he was okay and he went out there and played like nothing had happened. “

Thornton Sits
Combine rookie Tyler Seguin’s recent rampage and the return of Bergeron to Boston’s lineup, and Julien had a decision to make when deciding who was going to sit out of Game 3.

Thornton. (AP Photo/Elise Amendola)
Boston’s depth has been one of their strengths all season, but rarely have they had all 13 forwards firing on all cylinders. But when it came down to game time, Julien made the decision to sit veteran wing Shawn Thornton.

Thornton had been the low man on the totem poll in terms of ice time this postseason, was also the only Bruins forward not to have scored a goal, and is also the only forward not used in either special team’s situation.

“You look at it, I'm the right choice at this point. I understand the decision and support it fully,” Thornton said.

A team-first player, the 33-year-old is no stranger to what it takes to win a Stanley Cup.  Thornton won the Stanley Cup in 2007 with the Anaheim Ducks.

In fact, prior to Seguin’s postseason debut, the 19-year-old rookie said Thornton pulled him aside and told him he would get a chance if the Bruins were to make a long run. 

“It's whatever's best for the team this time of the year and I've always been about that,” Thornton said.

“Especially in the playoffs."
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