The Bear Cave

February 14, 2010 2:40 AM

Bruins Cruise into Olympics with Four Straight Wins

Most teams are looking at the upcoming Olympic break as an opportunity to rest up and prepare for the stretch run. However, due to their play this past week, the Boston Bruins might want to decline the break, as they have begun to turn the corner. After losing ten consecutive games, the Bruins have won each of their last four, cruising into the break on a bit of a roll. The fourth victory in that stretch came on Saturday, as Boston picked up a 3-2 shootout win over the Florida Panthers at the BankAtlantic Center.

The Bruins got off to a rather interesting start in the game, as Derek Morris was whistled for hooking at the ten-second mark of the first period. Tuukka Rask and Boston's penalty killers came ready to play, as Morris' penalty came to an end without any damage being done on the scoreboard.

Midway through the opening stanza, the first goal was scored by an unlikely player. Shawn Matthias cycled the puck around the boards to Victor Oreskovich behind the cage. Oreskovich turned, backhanding a pass into the slot for Nick Tarnasky. Oreskovich's pass was right on target, as Tarnasky used a one-timer to beat Tuukka Rask over the glove. The goal was Tarnasky's first of the season.

A little less than six minutes later, Boston drew even. Dennis Wideman started the play off in his own zone, tossing a cross-ice pass ahead to David Krejci at the offensive blueline. Krejci carried the puck deep into the offensive zone, sending a shot on goal from the bottom of the right circle. Tomas Vokoun put his glove down behind his stick, but missed, as the puck snuck through his legs.

Exactly three minutes later, the Panthers regained the lead on a goal that will certainly appear on a variety of sports stations across the continent. Shawn Thornton was in the penalty box for holding, giving Florida a power play to work with. Bryan McCabe tapped the puck to Stephen Weiss in his own zone, not knowing what was about to happen. Weiss took the pass and dashed through the neutral zone. After crossing the offensive blueline, Weiss made a quick move to freeze Zdeno Chara, sending him in alone on Rask. The Florida forward found room inside of the left post, giving his club a 2-1 lead after twenty minutes of play.

In terms of offense, the second period was on the quiet side. However, there was one set of fireworks, as Adam McQuaid dropped the mitts with Victor Oreskovich in front of the Bruins' bench. Both players started the fight by exchanging some punishing rights. As the battle wore on, McQuaid gained a serious edge, beating Oreskovich with a flurry of right-handed punches. Shots on goal in the middle frame were 11-8 in favor of Florida, with the score remaining the same.

With just over ten minutes left in regulation, Stephen Weiss was sent off for tripping, giving the Bruins their first power play of the evening. Boston came up empty on the man advantage, but scored the equalizer less than a second later. Radek Dvorak was unable to clear the rebound of Marc Savard's shot, as Andrew Ference kept the play alive at the left point. Ference dished a pass across the blueline to Dennis Wideman, who sent a shot in toward the net. The shot appeared to be headed wide, until a deflection from Mark Recchi changed the direction of the puck. That change of direction was enough to get the best of Vokoun, as the game was tied at two.

After recording just 18 total shots through the first two periods, Boston exploded in the third, firing 19 shots in Vokoun's direction. The Panthers were only able to muster six shots in the third period, giving Rask a relatively easy period. Both netminders held on through the end of regulation, as well as overtime, sending the two teams into a shootout.

In the shootout, both teams got off to difficult starts, as Michael Frolik, Marco Sturm, Stephen Weiss, and Michael Ryder came up empty. David Booth put the Panthers ahead in the third round, only to see David Krejci send the shootout into extra frames in the bottom of the third. From there, the offensive struggles continued, as each of the next six shooters failed to score. In round seven, Florida took the lead on a tally by Kamil Kreps. However, the Bruins had another answer, as Marc Savard dribbled the puck through Vokoun's legs. Jeff Taffe's miss in the top of the eighth round set the stage for Mark Recchi, who picked off Vokoun's water bottle for the winning goal.

The Bruins have now participated in 17 shootouts this season, putting them two away from the all-time record of 19.

Tuukka Rask played well once again for the Bruins, earning his fourth straight win with 26 saves on 28 shots. Tomas Vokoun also put together a strong performance for the Panthers, turning aside 37 of the 39 shots he faced. Rask did have the upper hand in the shootout, making six saves, while Vokoun had five.

The Providence Bruins also received a tremendous effort in goal, as Kevin Regan's 37 saves led the Baby B's past the Springfield Falcons 3-1. Brad Marchand, Zach Hamill, and Jordan Knackstedt had the goals for Providence, while Trent Whitfield registered a pair of assists. Chris Armstrong had the lone goal in the losing effort for the Falcons, while Devan Dubnyk made 29 saves. The P-Bruins will look for their fifth straight win on Sunday, when they host the Syracuse Crunch.

The Boston Bruins are now off for the Olympics, and will not have another game until March 2nd against the Montreal Canadiens.

Scoring Summary:
1. FLA Tarnasky (1) (Oreskovich, Matthias) 10:13
1. BOS Krejci (11) (Wideman) 15:54
1. FLA Weiss (21) (McCabe, Kulikov) (PP) 18:54
3. BOS Recchi (12) (Wideman, Ference) 11:44

BOS Marco Sturm- S
BOS Michael Ryder- S
BOS David Krejci- G
BOS Zdeno Chara- S
BOS Blake Wheeler- S
BOS Patrice Bergeron- S
BOS Marc Savard- G
BOS Mark Recchi- G

FLA Michael Frolik- S
FLA Stephen Weiss- S
FLA David Booth- G
FLA Cory Stillman- S
FLA Steven Reinprecht- S
FLA Shawn Matthias- S
FLA Kamil Kreps- G
FLA Jeff Taffe- S

Penalty Summary:
1. BOS Morris- Hooking 0:10
1. BOS Thornton- Holding 18:27
2. BOS McQuaid- Fighting 15:06
2. FLA Oreskovich- Fighting 15:06
3. FLA Weiss- Tripping 9:44
3. BOS Bergeron- Holding 12:02
4. BOS Wheeler- Goaltender Interference 3:56
4. FLA Stillman- Hooking 4:02

BOS Tuukka Rask (14-7-4): 28 shots, 26 saves
FLA Tomas Vokoun (19-21-10): 39 shots, 37 saves

Shots on Goal:
BOS 10-8-19-2-1=40
FLA 8-11-6-3-0=28

Power Plays:
BOS 0-for-1
FLA 1-for-4

Three Stars of the Game:
1- BOS Mark Recchi
2- FLA Stephen Weiss
3- FLA Nick Tarnasky

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