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The B's Bounced Back Against Caps

by John Bishop / Boston Bruins -- While most of New England probably viewed the Bruins vs. Capitals game as Sunday's undercard, the B's certainly viewed the Eastern Conference matchup as one of their most important games of the 2011-12 regular season.

After a string of uneven performances in January and a rare pair of consecutive losses, the B's went into Sunday's game looking to reap the benefits of the seeds the club had sown in Saturday's one-goal loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins.

"I think it was a lot better today," said Bruins Head Coach Claude Julien of Boston's 4-1 victory. "I think we started building on that yesterday as I mentioned.

"I liked a lot of things we did, but we had to play a little bit more offensively again today. Defensively, we were really good. Goaltending was good."

The Bruins also put together a very complete effort versus the Capitals and Julien said that was easier to do thanks to an early goal from Milan Lucic.

"Well I think when you look at how much we haven’t been able to start off with the lead – a fair amount of games lately – first goal I thought was huge for us," said Julien. "We’re a pretty good team playing with a lead and to be able to create it I think was a big boost for us."

Another boost came from the new look of the Bruins forward lines.

"Well there’s a couple things," said Julien when asked about his new trios. "I think first trying to maybe bring some attention to our game and create a bit of a spark."

Today saw David Krejci skating between Benoit Pouliot and Jordan Caron (newly recalled from Providence on Saturday), while Chris Kelly centered Milan Lucic and Rich Peverley.

"At the same time, knowing [Washington Head Coach Dale Hunter is] a hard-matcher and him having the last change, I wanted to make sure I had the right people out on the ice against his top line," added Julien.

As such, the B's ensured that Boston defenseman Zdeno Chara played the role of Capitals sniper Alex Ovechkin's shadow.

"Yeah that’s what Zee likes to do," said Julien. "He likes the challenge of playing against top players and shutting them down and today was no exception and he did a great job on him.

"Ovechkin is such a good player he’s going to get his opportunities, but you've got to minimize them and as a whole I thought we did a good job doing that."

When Ovechkin and the Capitals got past the B's defense, Boston's Tim Thomas was there to stifle all but one attempt.

"Tim’s capable of doing that for us and he’s done that a lot in the past," said Julien. "I thought he was on top of his game today and certainly we needed to be on top of our game and they were."

Also on top of his game was Tyler Seguin, who solidified the Black & Gold victory with his 20th goal of the season.

"As the year progresses he seems to be getting better in areas he had to work on," said Julien. "We talked about yesterday, some highlight back checks and committing to everything and at the same time he’s producing offensively.

"He’s capable of being a complete player and I think he’s taking pride in that and he’s working hard on that part of his game.

"For him to be able to do that, and have 20 goals at this stage -- which I think is more than a lot of our players have on this team right now -- it speaks a lot about his skill level." 
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