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Bruins gamble, win with goalie swap

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Bruins gamble, win with goalie swap

COLUMBUS It was far from a textbook victory for the Bruins over the Columbus Blue Jackets on Saturday night. All one needs to do is look at the rare goaltending switch that took place in the Bs 5-3 victory over the Blue Jackets at Nationwide Arena.

Claude Julien made the bold decision to pull Tim Thomas after two periods and go with Tuukka Rask for the final 20 minutes. The game was tied 3-3 at the time of the swap.

Weve played five games in eight nights, were a pretty tired group, said Julien. We just had to fight through it and we did just that.

It worked like a charm for the Bruins, who were now battling without their two best players (Thomas yanked from the game and Chara out with a leg injury) and putting together one of the grittiest wins theyll have all season.

It was originally thought that Rask might be the goaltender of choice when the schedule for the week was put together, but Julien opted for Thomas with the Bs in the middle of a two-game losing streak.

Thomas made 22 saves in the first 40 minutes and kept the Bruins in a 3-3 tie, but it was also readily apparent that the 37-year-old goaltender was fighting the puck more than usual.

Almost none of Thomas stops were clean glove saves, and the third goal surrendered to the Blue Jackets was a soft-serve special. R.J. Umberger was freed into the offensive zone with some speed after a long outlet pass from Sami Pahlsson, but defenseman Dennis Seidenberg was with Umberger every step of the way.

The Bs defenseman forced Umberger toward an outside lane and the Blue Jackets forward could only managed a backhander attempt toward the Bruins net. The shot somehow trickled through Thomas pads and allowed the Blue Jackets to tie the game late in the second period after an early Zdeno Chara bomb handed the Bruins a one-goal lead.

The Bs goaltender let out a stick-waving show of exasperation after the Umberger goal as if he knew he should have stopped that one.

Combine the Umberger score with a power play goal allowed when Thomas had taken himself out the play with his penalty kill unit scrambling in front of him and Julien had seen enough of the roaming Thomas between the pipes.

Timmy didnt look as comfortable tonight as weve seen him before and a couple of goals went through, said Julien. It was a gut feeling from the coachs perspective. Timmy is as consistent as Ive ever seen a goalie. In my five years Ive maybe pulled him two or three times in all of those years at the most. Thats how consistent hes been.

Thomas didnt stop to address the performance with the media following the feel-good victory.

Rask must have been shocked to get the call headed into the third period, but he didnt act it out on the ice. It was particularly surprising given that a Milan Lucic tripping call left the Bs and Rask in penalty kill mode right off the bat. But the Finnish goaltender came in out of the cold and made all 13 of his save chances while improving to 5-4-1 on the season and 2-0-0 against the Blue Jackets.

I was a little surprised, but youve got to be ready. That just proves it again. Youve just got to try and stay focused for 60 minutes, Rask. If you get shots and get your sweat going and start to feel good about yourself it helps. Today it turned out to be a good period for me for and we squeezed out the win. That was great.

Thomas got pulled from a tie game, and you just want to go out there and not lose the game.

Its pretty clear the Bruins arent engaging in any goaltender controversy as its the first time Thomas has been pulled since last season on March 3 against the Toronto Maple Leafs. He was very rarely pulled before that memorable defeat prior to last years Cup run.

Everybody is entitled to one of those games, said Julien. I didnt think he was bad, but it just didnt look like he was comfortable in the net. So we went with Tuukka in the third.

Julien rolled the dice in a big way going with Rask, and it was one of several flawless calls that allowed the Bs to eke out a much-needed victory.

Spooner's strong play continues as B's dominate Habs

Spooner's strong play continues as B's dominate Habs

GOLD STAR: It had to feel good for Ryan Spooner. The speedy forward played a great game, finished with the game-winning goal in Claude Julien’s return to Boston and had both four shots on net and four registered hits in 16:07 of ice time. His goal was a level of grit and buy-in that he didn’t always have when Julien was the coach, but it’s one that he’s found more and more since Bruce Cassidy took over behind the B’s bench. Spooner drove the puck straight toward the net, and attempted to throw a pass backdoor to Matt Grzelcyk. But instead the puck bounced off Jonathan Drouin’s skate and ended up in the back of the net to make it a 2-1 game in the second period. For a player that long struggled under the watchful eye of Julien, Spooner’s night continued a stretch of very strong play since coming back from injury. 

BLACK EYE: Jonathan Drouin was supposed to be a game-changing center for the Canadiens after being moved from Tampa Bay, but he hasn’t even been close to that, or actually being a center, for the Habs this year. Drouin really didn’t bring much of anything on Wednesday night with a couple of shots on net, a giveaway and a 1-for-9 on the draw in his 17:04 of ice time. He was like so many of the other players on the Montreal roster that didn’t show up with their best in a rivalry game between the Bruins and the Habs. Even worse than that they didn’t show up in a game they desperately needed to win if they wanted to stay relevant in the playoff race. With the minus game again on Wednesday, Drouin is also now a minus-20 on the season in what’s been a truly disappointing year. 

TURNING POINT: The Bruins bounced back strongly after giving up a goal on the first shift of the game, and really took things over after the fortunate bounce for Jakub Jerabek got the Habs on the board early. The Bruins outshot the Canadiens by a 25-13 margin in the first two periods, dominated play and posted a goal in each of the first two periods to get the B’s on the board. From that point on it was smooth sailing and Boston only needed to collect a couple of insurance goals in the third period to truly seal Montreal’s fate. What was surprising was that the Habs showed little fight or pride while slowly sinking into the mud during the game, and never ever provided any real challenge to the Bruins in a game that was still separated by just a single goal until later in the third period. 

HONORABLE MENTION: David Krejci had one of his better games for the Bruins with a goal, two points and a plus-2 rating in 15:58 of ice time. It was an empty net goal that rounded out the scoring in the third period, and he finished with four shot attempts, a takeaway and 16-of-20 face-off wins in 15:58 of ice time. In general the Bruins frontline centers absolutely and thoroughly dominated Montreal’s poor excuse for players down the middle of their lineup, and Krejci was a big part of that in helping set up Spooner’s game-winner as well. Krejci was also a player that had his differences of opinion with Julien when he was coaching the Bruins, so the big game for him on Wednesday night also must have felt pretty cathartic when it was all said and done.   

BY THE NUMBERS: 15 – the number of games for Tuukka Rask’s current point streak where he’s put together a 13-0-2 record that dates back to his four game benching in the middle of November. He finished with a solid night’s work of 21 saves in the win over the Habs.  

QUOTE TO NOTE: “We laid an egg.” –Claude Julien said that phrase in both French and English to discuss a truly pathetic performance for his Canadiens team in what should have been an intense Bruins/Habs rivalry game on national television. 

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Bruins spoil Julien's return to Boston with victory over Canadiens, 4-1

Bruins spoil Julien's return to Boston with victory over Canadiens, 4-1

BOSTON – It was a nice night for Claude Julien in his return to Boston with a well-done video montage and a warm ovation from the still-appreciative Bruins fans. But that’s where it ended for the Habs coach as his hockey club pretty much no-showed for the game and rolled over in a 4-1 win for the Bruins at TD Garden on Wednesday night. 

The Canadiens scored the game’s first goal just 31 seconds into the game when a Jakub Jerabek perimeter shot bounced off Zdeno Chara in front and skipped past Tuukka Rask. But it was all Black and Gold after that with David Pastrnak tying things up six minutes later, and the Bruins outshooting the Habs by a 13-7 margin in the second period while extending their lead. 

This time it was Ryan Spooner taking the puck to the net and watching as his centering pass attempt bounced off Jonathan Drouin’s skate and into the net. It was three goals in his last four games for Spooner, who had to feel a pretty big sense of satisfaction at netting the game-winner against a coach he clearly didn’t see eye-to-eye with early in his B’s career. 

Brad Marchand added a necessary power play strike in the third period to give Boston the insurance marker that they needed, but it didn’t really matter against a Canadiens team that was pretty lifeless for long stretches of the game. 

Tuukka Rask stopped 21 shots and went into lockdown mode after the first goal allowed, but truth be told the Canadiens didn’t have much in the way of quality chances throughout the game. David Krejci added the empty net goal late in the third for icing on the cake in a pretty one-sided affair for a Boston/Montreal rivalry game. 

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