The 3-2 victory over Columbus didn’t come easy, as Boston had to play a gritty style of hockey and battle back from two one-goal deficits to pick up the two points.
“The first half of the game was one where we were kind of grinding it out and not really being on top of our game. I thought the second half of the second period we started controlling the puck a little better, hanging on to it in the offensive zone and moving it around and consequently having a little bit more control,” Bruins Head Coach Claude Julien said after the game.
“And you know it was nice to see that even if they took the lead in the third, we found a way to get back into it.”
But the Bruins did what they had to do, and with the two points from Tuesday night have now opened up a four-point lead over the Montreal Canadiens for first place in the Northeast Division.
Entering tonight’s game Boston is five points behind the Washington Capitals for second place in the Eastern Conference. With the Caps, who had a nine-game win streak snapped by the Detroit Red Wings in a 3-2 loss last night, off the ice this evening, the Bruins will look to close that gap.
The road seems to be the perfect place for the B’s to play catch up in the conference standings, as the Bruins have the league's second-best road record.
Tonight, the Black & Gold play the third game of a four-game road swing, their final multiple-game trip of the season.
Boston is 1-1 thus far on the trip. Scouting the Predators
The ninth place Predators sit just one point out of the final playoff spot in the Western Conference and have nothing to lose and everything to gain as they face the Bruins tonight.
|Boston's Milan Lucic checks a Predator player in a game on January, 29, 2008. |
With a 35-25-10 record for 80 points, Nashville is just a step behind the eighth place Calgary Flames and its 81 points.
The Predators haven’t had a lot of offensive production this season, are their leading scoring is Shea Webber with a 15-28-43 scoring line, but have relied heavily on goaltender Pekka Rinne.
Rinne ranks among league leaders in three goaltending categories.
He sits in second place, behind B’s goaltender Tim Thomas
, in both goals against average (2.09) and save percentage (.929), and is in seventh place with five shutouts.
With Calgary squaring off against the Colorado Avalanche tonight, Nashville is looking to gain ground in the Western Conference against an Eastern Conference opponent.
The Predators enter tonight’s game with a 7-4-4 record against the East and a 1-2-0 record against the Northeast Division.
Slumping of late, with a 4-4-2 record in its last ten, Nashville is a notch better at home recently with a 5-4-1 record in its last ten games at Bridgestone Arena.
Although the arena plays a part in the game, special teams may have a bigger role tonight.
Despite its power play standing at the bottom of the pack (28th in the league with a 14.7 percent scoring rate) the Predators are ranked fourth in the league in penalty killing with an 85.4 percent kill rate.
This could mark trouble for the Bruins who are 21st in the league in power play, scoring on just 16.7 percent of their man-advantage opportunities.
Recently though, the Bruins have found they’ve had fewer power play opportunities than usual.
In Tuesday night’s victory over Columbus, Boston was on the power play for just five seconds, as forward Patrice Bergeron took an interference call off the opening draw of the Bruins five-on-four advantage.
In the last five games Boston has averaged just 4:10 of power play time a game and has scored just one goal, coming on a five-on-three advantage against the Islanders on March 11.
Ference, Hnidy update
During the Boston Bruins practice in Bridgestone Arena yesterday afternoon, injured defensemen Shane Hnidy and Andrew Ference both took part in the up-tempo work out.
Hnidy, who hasn’t skated in an NHL game this season since suffering an injury during the Phoenix Coyotes training camp this pre-season, said he is feeling good and coming along as expected.
“I feel good out there and it’s just a matter of strengthening more. But it’s at the point now where all drills are on and contact, full contact, battles,” Hnidy said of his progress.
Hnidy is on long-term injured reserve and won’t be available to return to the roster until later this month, while Ference remains day-to-day.
“It was good,” Ference said of yesterday’s practice.
“I mean we had a really hard skate yesterday, me and Hnides got into some quicker stuff down low, trying to chase the forwards around. It’s been a good progression.”
Both B’s blueliners credited the Bruins’ training staff with helping them along through the injuries.
“I’ve spent time with those guys and different types of injuries that required a lot of different things,” Ference said of his work with the B's training and medical staff.
"So they do a great job and they have the role of being the voice of reason sometimes when you’re anxious to get back to try doing too much too soon. It’s an important job, they definitely really on them to guide us in the right direction.”
“They’ve been excellent. You can’t say enough about the whole staff. The doctors, everyone, right through the trainers to the doctors to the coaches,” Hnidy added. Peverley returns to former stomping grounds
Bruins center Rich Peverley
made his NHL debut with the Nashville Predators in the 2006-1007 season after being signed as a free agent by the club on January 18, 2007.
|Nashville Predators center Rich Peverley (37) and Columbus Blue Jackets right wing Nikolai Zherdev (13) of the Ukraine fight for the puck in the third period of an NHL hockey game in Nashville, Tenn., Tuesday, March 25, 2008. The Predators won 3-0. (AP Photo/Mark Humphrey) |
Peverley called Bridgestone Arena home for part of three seasons spanning from 2007- 2009.
“It’s a great building to play in, really loud. They do a really good job here, they’ve always had a winning culture and it’s a team the city really embraces,” Peverley said of his time in Nashville.
“I really enjoyed my time here.”
In 73 career games in Nashville Peverley had 7-13-20 scoring totals to go along with 23 penalty minutes.
“Well we had a bit of a playoff run my second year here, so we came right down to the second of the last game of the season and we made the playoffs, played Detroit the first round, and it was a good experience for me,” Peverley said.
“Obviously Detroit went on to win the Stanley Cup so we picked the best team to lose to.”
As for anyone looking to visit Nashville, Peverley gave the city his thumbs up.
“Well I think everybody that comes to town goes right to the downtown core and sees the live music and that’s a lot of fun. But there are some great neighborhoods outside the downtown, really good family areas,” he said.
“It’s a really fun town to be in.” Player Profile: Tyler Seguin
Tuesday night, when Tyler Seguin
slipped the forehand winner past Columbus goaltender Steve Mason, he scored arguably the biggest goal of his young career.
The 19-year-old rookie’s goal was his fourth shootout tally of the season, but his first game-deciding goal.
“I kind of knew in the back of my mind what I wanted to do and then I just had to react,” Seguin said of the goal. “I think at the last second I wanted to go to my backhand which is what I usually do, but I tried to mix it up and it worked out.”
Seguin improved to four for seven in shootout attempts, with a 57.1 percent success rate.
Overall this season, the six-foot-one, 182-pound forward has 10-11-21 totals to go along with 12 PIM in 62 games.
Much like the Bruins overall, most of Seguin’s top performances have come on the road, where he’s recorded 14 of his 21 points.
Seguin made his NHL debut on Oct. 9 against the Coyotes and recorded his first NHL goal and point the next night against Phoenix.
The Brampton, Ontario native has had an up and down season, with periods of being a healthy scratched mixed in highlight plays and goal of the week honors.
Prior to becoming Boston’s first round draft pick (second overall) in last year’s entry draft, Seguin played two seasons of junior hockey with the Plymouth Whalers.
In 124 career junior games, Seguin was more than a point-a-game player with 69-104-173 totals.
This season, Seguin was honored by being selected as one of 12 top NHL rookies to compete in the Honda SuperSkills Competition during All-Star weekend.
He competed in the hardest shot competition where he recorded a 97.1 MPH blast.
Seguin also took a turn in the Elimination Shootout competition, but was stopped in his attempt by Anaheim Duck’s goaltender Jonas Hiller.