The Bear Cave

September 2, 2009 9:10 AM

Top Game #2: Bruins Teach Stars About Poking the Bear

One of the strengths of the 2008-09 Boston Bruins was their ability to stick up for one another when things got out of hand on the ice. In fact, this club tended to use that as an extra motivational force to push them past their opposition.

The month of October was a decent one for the Bruins, but it was far from spectacular. The team compiled a 5-3-3 record during the first eleven games of the campaign, and was searching for a spark when the calendar turned to November. Little did they know that that spark would come on the first day of that month, when the Dallas Stars paid a visit to Boston. The Stars had an interesting start to the 2008-09 season, as they were struggling in all areas of the game. One of the most publicized areas was in the personnel department, as Sean Avery found his way into the center of attention. Dallas later learned that Avery wasn't the best solution. However, they wouldn't learn quickly enough, as the Bruins used his antics to shoot down the Stars. The November 1st game between Boston and Dallas is the second game on our countdown of the top ten games from this past season.

The Stars were coming off of a loss less than 24 hours earlier in Chicago, so the Bruins were looking to grab as much early momentum as possible. 2:41 into the contest, the home team had the lead. David Krejci chased down a loose puck in the right corner, tapping it over to Blake Wheeler. Wheeler had a difficult time controlling the puck when it first arrived on his stick, but he was still able to get it to Marco Sturm at the top of the right circle. Sturm let a one-timer go from that spot, beating Marty Turco low to the stick side.

A little more than five minutes later, Dallas came back with the equalizer. Sean Avery broke up a play in his defensive zone, and rushed up the right side of the ice. As he approached the face-off dot in the offensive zone, Avery sent a wobbling shot on goal. The shot was a tough one to read off of the stick, as it floated into the top-left corner of the net, past Tim Thomas. Play was even in the first period, with the score tied 1-1, and the shots tied at ten, but the physical play that ensued following Steve Ott's hit at the buzzer was a sign of things to come.

The second period began with fireworks, as Ott put a very questionable hit on Stephane Yelle. Shawn Thornton tried to fight the Dallas agitator, but didn't get much of a response, leading to a four-minute penalty for roughing. As luck would have it, Ott took a penalty of his own 32 seconds later, leading to 4-on-4 play, and ultimately leading to Boston's second goal. Michael Ryder flew down the left side of the ice, and fired a shot on goal. Turco made the save, deflecting the rebound behind the net. Ryder hustled in to battle for possession, allowing Patrice Bergeron to dig the puck free. As soon as he got the loose puck, Bergeron curled around the left side of the cage, sneaking a shot in between the post and Turco's right pad.

Despite scoring the only goal, the second period was by far Boston's worst. The Stars outshot the Bruins 21-5 during the middle frame, but still trailed due to an unbelievable period of goaltending by Tim Thomas. Thomas stopped all 21 shots in the 20-minute span, keeping his team ahead by one.

Four minutes into the third period, the Bruins doubled their lead. Marc Savard took a pass from Andrew Ference deep in his own zone, then sent the puck up the ice for Phil Kessel on the right side of center ice. Kessel continued skating into the offensive zone, before moving to the left. Then, using a Dallas defender as a screen, Kessel threw a wrist shot on goal, beating Turco five hole.

At that point, frustration really began to set in for the Stars. 47 seconds after the goal, Andrew Ference took on Sean Avery in the first official fight of the night. At the 7:02 mark of the third, Marty Turco got a minor penalty for throwing a hit on a Bruin, while Milan Lucic and Steve Ott each got roughing minors on the play. Two minutes later, Krys Barch was forced to clean up the mess his teammates made, by challenging Shawn Thornton to a duel.

With tempers flaring, Boston extended the lead yet again. Philippe Boucher had Blake Wheeler lined up for a hit in the neutral zone, but Wheeler managed to get a pass off to Stephane Yelle before contact was made. This set up an odd-man rush for the Bruins, with one Dallas defenseman back in the play. Yelle carried the puck into the right circle, then dropped a pass back to Mark Stuart. Stuart stepped in and ripped a wrist shot over Turco's glove, making the score 4-1 Bruins.

Although there was still 8:55 left on the clock, the score was close to being decided, so misconducts began to make their way onto the scoresheet. Steve Ott's night came to an end 32 seconds after the goal, when he and Mark Stuart were both sent to the locker rooms with ten-minute misconducts. Seven seconds later, Sean Avery threw a questionable hit, leading to more fisticuffs and more misconducts.

With 5:43 to play, the Bruins put the finishing touches on their victory. Michael Ryder gloved the puck down along the left side of the goal line. Ryder then dished a pass to PJ Axelsson in the slot. Axelsson didn't have much of a shot to work with, but had Marco Sturm open outside of the crease. Axelsson fed him the pass, and Sturm easily tapped in his second goal of the evening. This was the lone power play goal for either team in the contest.

From there, it was surprisingly smooth sailing. The scoring, fighting, and penalties were over, meaning that the Boston Bruins skated away with a 5-1 win. Tim Thomas earned the win in goal for the Bruins, turning aside 35 of the 36 shots he faced. 30 of those saves came during the first two periods. Marty Turco suffered the loss for the Stars, allowing five goals on 25 shots.

The win over Dallas set the tone for the 2008-09 Boston Bruins. Following that game, the Bruins rattled off an incredible 13-1-1 record in their next 15 contests, firmly establishing themselves as one of the top teams in the Eastern Conference. The victory also let clubs around the league know that Boston wasn't about to be pushed around, as evident by Marc Savard's willingness to tackle Sean Avery during the third period.

One of the most commonly used phrases about the Bruins from this past season was, "Don't poke the bear!" After Boston's 5-3-3 start, the Stars poked the bear, and the sleeping giants on Causeway Street never looked back.

In game number one on the countdown, the Bruins turn the tide against their rivals in a big way.

2008-09 Boston Bruins Top Ten Games:
2. November 1st- Dallas 1 @ BRUINS 5
3. October 25th- Atlanta 4 @ BRUINS 5
4. January 27th- Washington 2 @ BRUINS 3 (OT)
5. April 9th- Montreal 4 @ BRUINS 5 (OT)
6. April 4th- New York R. 0 @ BRUINS 1
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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