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Pregame Notebook vs. Islanders

by Hannah Becker / Boston Bruins
BOSTON – With its 4-3 overtime loss to Buffalo on Thursday night, the Boston Bruins added to its lead over the Montreal Canadiens in the Northeast Division race.

The Canadiens lost 4-1 to the St. Louis Blues last night, allowing the B’s to take a four-point lead in the division with a game in hand.

The single point Boston picked up also put them just one behind the Washington Capitals who stand second place in the Eastern Conference.

Both the Bruins and the Capitals play tomorrow night, while the Canadiens resume their schedule on Saturday night against the Pittsburgh Penguins.

Despite three consecutive losses the Bruins are 7-1-2 in their last ten games.

Boston looks to continue that success as they travel to Long Island to take on the 14th place Islanders.

The Bruins are 2-0 against the Islanders thus far this season, including a 6-3 victory on Feb. 17.

Tonight’s game begins a four-game road swing for Boston, their final multiple-game trip of the season.

The Bruins enter tonight’s game with an NHL-best 22-8-4 road record.

B’s first line continues to roll
With Nathan Horton’s first period goal Thursday night against the Sabres, the Bruins first line, which consists of Milan Lucic and Horton centered by David Krejci, has now scored in ten consecutive games.

Included in that ten-game stretch was a five game point streak held by Horton from Feb. 26- March 5, with 3-2-5 totals in that span.

Entering tonight’s game, Krejci and Lucic each have four-game point streaks, as the pair picked up assists on Horton’s 19th goal of the season last night.

Krejci has 1-4-5 totals in the last four games while Lucic has a 2-3-5 line over that span.

Over the course of their ten-game scoring streak, the Lucic-Krejci-Horton line has combined for a 13-22-35 scoring line and a plus-27 rating and the Bruin have gone 7-1-2.

Krejci leads Boston in scoring with 52 points and Lucic is just one tally behind at 51 points. Horton is fourth in team scoring with 44 points.

Horton is also tied for fourth in the league in plus/minus with a plus-26 rating.

The No. 1 line has also gotten physical with both Lucic and Horton recording fights in the last ten games.

Lucic dropped the gloves last night, after picking up fighting majors in the March 3 match-up against Tampa Bay and Feb. 27 in Edmonton.

Last night’s fight was Lucic’s sixth of the season. The Bruins are 4-1-1 when he gets in a fight.

Horton has also showed his physical side, dropping the gloves twice over the line’s ten-game scoring streak. Horton fought Feb. 27 against Edmonton and dropped the gloves again on March 5 as the B’s took on the Penguins.

Horton had a goal and a fight on Feb. 27 and Lucic also completed the feat on March 3, marking the sixth and seventh time a Bruin has done so this season.

Depth Keeps Hub of Hockey Rolling
Although their top line has a ten-game goal streak heading into tonight’s match-up, the Bruins proved last night that they still rely on the depth of their offensive lines to produce goals.

Three of the four Bruins lines scored last night, with the third and fourth lines recording goals in addition to Horton’s first-line tally.

Mark Recchi, who skated on Boston’s third line with Chris Kelly and Michael Ryder last night, gave the Bruins a 2-0 second period lead with his 12th goal of the season, assisted by Ryder and Zdeno Chara.

The Bruins fourth line also got in on the scoring action when center Gregory Campbell netted his 10th of the year to give Boston a 3-2 lead mid-way through the third period.  Fellow ‘energy’ liner, Shawn Thornton picked up an assist.

“Well it was just a good play by  [Shawn Thornton] to protect in the corner. And he got it out to  [Zdeno Chara], kind of squeaked out there to Zee, it wasn’t very hard, but fortunately got out there and he put it on the net and it looked like [Sabres goalie Ryan] Miller was kind of searching for the puck,” Campbell said of his goal.

“[Miller] was standing up and his five-hole was open so I just pushed it through.”

Campbell also dropped the gloves for Boston, taking on the Sabres’ Cody McCormick early in the first.

“I mean it was a big game. Coaches all stressed how big the first ten minutes were going to be, so I just tried to get some energy,” Campbell said of his decision to fight.

“Obviously it wasn’t that good of a fight, but that’s going to happen. And my intentions were there, and that’s that.”

In the end though, Campbell was happy to see his line with Thornton and Daniel Paille produce a goal.

“Of course, it feels good especially in a tight game like this where the goals actually mean something. I thought we tried to contribute in a positive way tonight,” he said.

“And we did a pretty good job of obviously getting a goal like that, helps a lot for your confidence.”

Calder Discussion: Michael Grabner
Immediately following the NHL Draft names like Taylor Hall, Logan Couture and even Tyler Seguin were immediately thrown into the Calder discussion before a puck even dropped a few surprising names have risen to the top of the conversation.

One of those names is Michael Graber.

The 23-year-old rookie is in his first season in the Islanders organization and has quickly become a contributing part of the offense.

Grabner is fourth on the Islanders in scoring with a 27-14-41 line and a plus-13 rating.

Grabner’s scoring line also puts him fourth among rookies, while his 27 goals leads all NHL rookies.

The six-foot, 170-pound forward finds himself among the rookie elite in many other categories as well.

He’s second to only the Bruins Brad Marchand in shorthanded goals (3) and shooting percentage (15.5). He sits sixth in plus/minus (plus-13), third in shots (174) and fifth in game-winning goals (3).

Grabner was recognized mid-season as one of the NHL’s best rookies. 

The Villach, Austria native was selected to participate in the NHL All-Star Festivities in Raleigh, NC and helped lead Team Staal to victory in the Honda SuperSkills competition.

Grabner picked up the Fastest Skater title with the two fastest times of 14.061 in his first heat and 14.238 in the finals.

Grabner continued his success post-All-Star break with a six game goal streak from Feb. 10- Feb. 15. He scored 10 goals over the span of the streak, which was snapped by Boston on Feb. 17, the last time these two teams met. 

Player Profile: Tuukka Rask
The Bruins number two goalie has struggled picking up wins this season, but overall continues to put up good statistical numbers.

Tuukka Rask is coming off his first full NHL season in which he posted a 22-12-5 record with a 1.97 GAA and .931 SV%. 

This season, Rask has been playing in the back-up position to Vezina favorite Tim Thomas. In 23 games, Rask has a 9-12-1 record with a 2.73 GAA and a .918 SV%.

The wins have been hard to come by but recently, excluding the 4-1 loss to Montreal on Tuesday, Rask has been on top of his game.

Prior to Tuesday’s game, Rask had won four in a row, including two sets of consecutive wins and one coming on back-to-back nights.

Rask also has two shutouts this season, the seven and eighth of his career.

In 73 career NHL games, Rask has a 34-25-7 to compliment his eight shutouts.  The B’s netminder has a career 2.23 GAA and .926 save percentage.
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