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The Bear Cave


August 24, 2009 9:43 AM

Top Game #7: Recchi's Pair Jump-Starts Success with Bruins

After three lengthy trips back in time, our time machine has been refueled, and is ready to go on another adventure in the 2008-09 Boston Bruins' regular season. The first three spots on the countdown all featured games played on the road. From this point on, the TD Banknorth Garden will be the site for the remaining memorable moments. Today, the journey resumes with the seventh game on our list.

With the exceptions of opening night and the playoffs, the NHL Trade Deadline tends to be one of the most exciting times of the season. It's the time of year when general managers decide whether their clubs will be buyers or sellers, and teams begin to make their final preparations for a potential run toward the Stanley Cup.

This past season, the Boston Bruins made two moves on Deadline Day. First, the team sent forward Petteri Nokelainen to the Anaheim Ducks in exchange for defenseman Steve Montador. Later in the day, Mark Recchi found himself in a Boston uniform, as the Bruins acquired the 41-year old from the Tampa Bay Lightning in exchange for Martins Karsums and Matt Lashoff. Boston also received a second round draft pick as part of the Recchi deal.

The two newest members of the team began their Boston careers the following night, as the Bruins played host to the Phoenix Coyotes. Most fans would have thought that Phoenix would have been a great first opponent, as the Coyotes finished in a tie for 13th place in the Western Conference. Unfortunately, that wasn't the case, as Chuck Kobasew's goal at the 7:09 mark of the opening stanza was the only time that the home crowd was brought to its feet. Scottie Upshall evened the score later in the period, and Steven Reinprecht ultimately put the visitors ahead for good with his 11th of the season. Ilya Bryzgalov made that score hold up, as he turned aside 25 of 26 shots in the Phoenix crease.

With the frustrating first game behind them, Recchi and Montador looked to make an impact in their second game with the Bruins. That second game is the one we will be focusing on, as Boston played host to the Chicago Blackhawks, hoping to put an end to a three-game losing streak.

After being held off of the scoresheet during his first game, Mark Recchi needed only ten minutes to light the lamp against the Blackhawks. Ben Eager tried tapping the puck to Brian Campbell behind the net, but Campbell was immediately pressured by Recchi. This allowed the puck to continue around the boards to Patrice Bergeron on the left side. Bergeron spun out of the corner, delivering a pass to Chuck Kobasew in the left circle. Kobasew had his back to the play, forcing him to flip a backhander in toward the slot. Recchi was positioned in front of Cristobal Huet at the time, giving him the opportunity to settle Kobasew's shot, before putting a shot of his own through the netminder's pads.

Recchi's tally stood as the only one until the latter stages of the second period, when the Blackhawks caught a bit of a lucky bounce to knot things up. Andrew Ference had taken a holding penalty less than a minute earlier, giving the visitors their second power play of the afternoon. Chicago cycled the puck around the offensive zone, mainly keeping the play on the right side. Cameron Barker ended up taking a slap shot from the point, that got blocked over to Patrick Kane. After holding onto the puck, Kane elected to send a pass to Jonathan Toews beneath the goal line. Toews attempted a wraparound from a tough angle, but got the deflection he was looking for, as the puck glanced off of Aaron Ward, before bouncing into the net.

The score stayed tied for a mere 30 seconds, as Boston quickly took back the lead. Dennis Wideman received a pass at the blueline, and faked as though he was going to let a slap shot go. Instead, he dished a pass across the line for Andrew Ference. Ference softly wristed the puck in toward the net, finding David Krejci on the left side of the crease. After knocking the puck down with his body, Krejci took a shot on goal. Huet thought he had the post covered, but somehow, the shot found a hole and bounced into the net.

The Bruins weren't content yet, as they wanted to get a message across before the third period. 35 seconds after Krejci put his team ahead, the lead was doubled. Chuck Kobasew took a pass in center ice, and blazed in on the right side of the offensive zone. With the defense coming up to pressure him, Kobasew left a pass off for Patrice Bergeron. Bergeron tried to dangle his way deeper into the zone, but the puck got poked away a Chicago defender. Luckily for him, the pokecheck led to the puck dribbling back to Dennis Wideman at the point. With Mark Recchi closing in to set up a screen, Wideman fired a wrist shot on goal. Shortly after getting bumped by Andrew Ladd, Recchi got a piece of Wideman's shot, tipping it in past Huet. The momentum was clearly in Boston's favor at that point, as the home team led by a pair after two periods of play.

Early in the third period, Boston continued to control the play, and it was a good thing they did. Brian Campbell skated up the ice in his own zone, but had issues staying on his feet as he reached the blueline. Campbell took a spill, freeing the puck up for Milan Lucic. Lucic pounced on the opportunity, as he picked up the puck, before handing off for Marc Savard. This created a small odd-man rush for the Bruins, with Savard finding Phil Kessel skating in on the right side. Savard hit his linemate with a perfect pass, leading Kessel to tap the puck past a sliding Huet for his 27th goal of the season.

Even though they trailed by three at the time, the Blackhawks weren't about to throw in the towel. With 9:34 remaining in regulation, the visitors cut into the lead. Andrew Ladd had his cross-crease pass blocked by a Boston defender, but was able to regain possession, before passing back to Matt Walker at the right point. Walker took what appeared to be a harmless shot from that spot, as Thomas made a relatively routine save. However, the save created a powerful rebound that deflected over to Kris Versteeg at the bottom of the left circle. Knowing the situation, Thomas lunged across the crease, but was unsuccessful, as Versteeg lifted a shot into the top of the cage.

A little more than four minutes later, Kessel's goal became even larger, as Chicago began to turn up the pressure. Andrew Ference was the unlucky one yet again, as he found himself in the sin bin with an interference minor. Ference's stay lasted for just seven seconds, as the Blackhawks cashed in for their second power play goal. Jonathan Toews won the offensive zone face-off, with Patrick Kane brushing the puck back to Brian Campbell at the left point. Once everyone got settled, Campbell returned the favor, setting up Kane in the left circle. While that happened, Troy Brouwer was able to plant himself in front of the crease, creating a screen. Kane took full advantage of his teammate's work, blasting a slap shot into the top-left corner of the net. Suddenly, it became a one-goal game with less than five minutes to go.

The Blackhawks continued to buzz around the offensive zone, hoping to send the game into overtime. However, they came up empty, and with 33 seconds left, Boston added insurance to the victory. PJ Axelsson broke up Patrick Kane's rush up the ice, before sliding a shot into Chicago's empty net.

After needing just seven saves in the opening period, Tim Thomas responded with 25 in the final two periods, leading the Bruins to the win. Thomas finished the game with 32 stops on 35 shots. Cristobal Huet also had a busy day for the Blackhawks, making 34 saves on 38 shots in the loss.

At that point in the season, the Boston Bruins were looking for a spark. Entering this contest, the team had lost three straight games, as well as nine of its previous twelve. Despite consecutive road losses to the New York Rangers and Columbus Blue Jackets, the Bruins were able to finish the month of March with wins in six of their last eight games, clinching the Northeast Division, and pretty much putting a stranglehold on first place in the Eastern Conference.

With the recent trade in the minds of the fans, it was also important for Mark Recchi and Steve Montador to begin to produce on a consistant basis. After scoring 13 goals in 62 games with the Lightning, Recchi went on to find the back of the net ten times in 18 regular season games as a Bruin. The veteran forward also picked up three goals and three assists in eleven playoff tilts, helping the club to a first round sweep of the Montreal Canadiens. This game could be viewed as the starting point to Recchi's success with Boston.

In game number six on the countdown, the Bruins do something for the first time since 2002, while a certain pest felt the need for attention. Find out who the true star was on that afternoon in more ways than one!

2008-09 Boston Bruins Top Ten Games:
7. March 7th- Chicago 3 @ BRUINS 5
8. February 1st- BRUINS 3 @ Montreal 1
9. November 12th- BRUINS 2 @ Chicago 1 (SO)
10A. October 27th- BRUINS 1 @ Edmonton 0 (OT)
10B. October 28th- BRUINS 1 @ Vancouver 0

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