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Bruins spoil Blackhawks' first Boston trip since Cup

by Matt Kalman

BOSTON -- The Boston Bruins inched closer to the Atlantic Division title with a 3-0 win against the Chicago Blackhawks on Thursday night.

Patrice Bergeron scored twice to extend his career-high goal streak to five games, and goaltender Tuukka Rask made 28 saves for his NHL-leading seventh shutout of the season to help the Bruins spoil the Blackhawks' first visit to TD Garden since winning the Stanley Cup last June.

The second of two games this season between the Bruins and Blackhawks gave Bergeron, who has six goals and one assist in his past five games, a chance to show the defending champions what he can do when healthy. During the Bruins' six-game loss to the Blackhawks in the Stanley Cup Final, he was limited by a punctured lung, cracked rib and separated shoulder.

"Yeah, the puck's going in, I guess," said Bergeron, who has 25 goals. "There's not much to say about it. It's just, you get those chances sometimes during the year and it doesn't go in. And now it is. Obviously, it's great anytime I can chip in offensively and keep my two-way game. I'm happy with it."

Bergeron scored his second at 5:41 of the third period to give the Bruins a 3-0 lead, 13 seconds after Carl Soderberg had scored to give Boston some breathing room. Chicago goaltender Corey Crawford (20 saves) got caught behind the goal and actually lifted up the net in an attempt to get back to stop Bergeron's one-timer from the bottom of the left circle. After a video review, the officials ruled the puck crossed where the net had been and deemed it a good goal.

The Bruins (50-17-6) have earned at least one point in 14 straight games (13-0-1) and are 16-1-3 in their past 20. They had won 12 in a row before a shootout loss to the Montreal Canadiens on Monday. The Bruins have allowed 11 goals in their past 10 games.

"I would say it was a closer game than maybe the score showed, but we really tried to focus on our defense and not to give them much," defenseman Zdeno Chara said. "Obviously, a team like that with the personnel they have, they've got to get some chances. But for the most part I thought we did a good job playing really tight defensively and not giving them too many, let's say on power plays and things like that, or outnumbered situations."

Bergeron scored his first goal at 11:50 of the first period on a tip of Matt Bartkowski's slap shot from the blue line. Soderberg scored at 5:28 of the third for a 2-0 lead after Johnny Boychuk's shot from the right point was knocked down in front. Soderberg found the loose puck and beat Crawford from the right side of the slot.

"They're a good team," Blackhawks forward Patrick Sharp said. "They play well in all zones, and they've got a good goalie in there, so that helps their cause. I think we can do a lot better job of creating some kind of offense, whether it's using our speed, taking a few chances, getting to the net, anything. I wasn't very happy."

The Blackhawks (42-17-6) had won three of their past four games. Chicago has been shut out three times this season, including twice in the past three games, and has scored seven goals in four games since losing right wing Patrick Kane to a lower-body injury.

"Every game is different. You miss [Kane], you're trying some things, and we're seeing what it can look like," Chicago coach Joel Quenneville said. "But, a good defensive team, Boston is as stingy as there is anyway, so we'll see. One more game [Friday] night; we'll get back at it [against the Ottawa Senators on the road]."

Chicago failed to clinch a berth in the Stanley Cup Playoffs on Thursday. The Blackhawks could have punched their ticket with a win or a New Jersey Devils victory against the Phoenix Coyotes; Phoenix won 3-2 in a shootout.

Boston needs one more point or loss by the Tampa Bay Lightning to clinch the Atlantic Division title. The Bruins visit the Washington Capitals on Saturday, when the Lightning visit the Buffalo Sabres.

There was a moment of silence for Boston Fire Department Lt. Edward J. Walsh and firefighter Michael R. Kennedy, who were killed in action Wednesday. Boston Fire Department was named the game's First Star, and Bruins players wore BPD hats before the game and hats and T-shirts while meeting with media after the game.

"I mean, it was very sad what happened [Wednesday]," Bergeron said. "And we feel like we're part of the community now and as a whole, and you know it was an important game, we thought, for us to win for all of them and I think they put their lives at risk. And obviously with what happened, our thoughts and prayers are with their families. You never want to hear that. They're the heroes and we're just here; it puts things in perspective if you want to put it that way. And tonight was a well-deserved First Star."

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