Bruins

B's absolve Rask of blame for defeat

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B's absolve Rask of blame for defeat

BOSTON -- Bruins coach Claude Julien seemed stunned.

He was taken aback by some of the questions from reporters following Boston's 3-2 shootout loss to the Detroit Red Wings on Friday afternoon at the TD Garden, which snapped the Bruins' 10-game winning streak. Especially questions that appeared critical of goaltender Tuukka Rask.

"There's no problem at all with Tuukka," said Julien, while on the defensive when fairly asked what he thought of Rask's performance in the shootout loss. "I thought he made some good saves, and we had some breakdowns. You look at the first goal, he doesn't have much of a chance on that.

"And the other one is a pretty skilled player, probably the highest skilled player in the league, in Pavel Datsyuk. And we didn't handle it well. We didn't have the layers. We let him walk in alone.

"It was a great game," added Julien. "And I thought Tuukka handled it well. He was good for us."

Rask may have been the one who allowed the shootout goal to Todd Bertuzzi that officially ended the Bruins' winning streak. But he wasn't the reason the B's won't be going for 12 wins in a row on Saturday against the Winnipeg Jets.

Friday was Rask's fourth start in that 10-game win streak. His last was in a 2-1 shootout win over the Columbus Blue Jackets at the Garden last Thursday, when he stoned Antoine Vermette with a left pad save in the shootout to seal the deal and keep the streak alive.

Against the Red Wings, he wasn't as heroic. But everyone in the Bruins' dressing room agreed: Detroit isn't a team you want to face in a shootout.

"Unfortunately, the one thing you don't want to do against that team is get into a shootout," said Julien after the game. "You've got to respect that part of their roster."

Datsyuk went first for the Red Wings, and he scored. Rask then made a save on Jiri Hudler. But on Detroit's third and final shot, he couldn't stop Bertuzzi's nifty move of taking it wide right and cutting across the crease.

When asked if he got a piece of Bertuzzi's game-winning shootout goal, Rask said, "I don't know, I don't know. It don't matter, right?"

Nope. Didn't matter. Not one bit.

"Even if Tuukka stopped that last one, they had a lot more guys to come that are pretty dangerous, that hadn't been out there yet," said Julien. "So, that's the part that you've got to respect on their team. And unfortunately, we got to that stage where it was decided by individuals."

Friday's game could have been decided before the shootout -- in the B's favor -- if it weren't for Boston's mistakes on the defensive end that allowed the Red Wings to score two goals in regulation. Their second one came just 35 seconds after the Bruins tied the game at 1-1 in the second period, and it stemmed from a defensive breakdown that allowed Datsyuk to streak past Boston defense and step in all alone from the right circle.

Detroit's first goal was also the result of a similar defensive breakdown.

Both times, Rask had no chance.

"They're always a tough team to play against," said Rask. "They're really skilled, and they like to make those seam passes in the zone and find late guys and stuff like that. It's a challenging team to play against, but it's always a battle, right?"

No hesitation from Chara in scoring after scary incident in Montreal

No hesitation from Chara in scoring after scary incident in Montreal

BOSTON – Less than 48 hours after one of his legendarily hard slap shots put a Montreal Canadiens forward in the hospital after striking him in the head, Zdeno Chara didn’t hesitate when given the chance to wind up and blast away on Monday afternoon.

It was the 40-year-old Chara that rocketed a slapper past Kari Lehtonen at the end of the second period, and in doing so energized the Bruins while getting them on the scoreboard. The Chara goal helped earn the Black and Gold a point in overtime before eventually falling to the Dallas Stars by a 3-2 score at TD Garden on Monday afternoon.

The Bruins captain had been texting with the felled Montreal winger on Monday, and was fully aware that Phillip Danault was out of the hospital and doing well aside from understandable concussion symptoms after a puck to the head. Perhaps that eased Chara’s mind just a little when it came time to lean into another wind-up slapper on Monday, but it was also certainly aided by the lack of brave bodies willing to front one of his heavy, hard point blasts.

“I obviously spoke to Phillip a number of times. I talked to him right after the game and wanted to make sure he was okay, and he texted me back that he’s doing fine. He’s been released [from the hospital] and that’s very positive, good news,” said Chara. “It’s obviously very unfortunate that it’s something that happens quite often, but it’s something you never want to see with somebody getting hit and hurt. I’m very happy he’s going to recover fully and hopefully he’s back on the ice and playing hockey [soon] like we all do.”

Was there any hesitation to Chara winding up and stepping into a 100-mph slap shot so quickly after the ugly incident in Montreal?

“It’s something that doesn’t happen very often where you have that clean [shooting] path to the net where you can settle the puck, take a look and take a full slapper,” said Chara. “Usually teams play so well structurally that there’s already somebody fronting it, and you’ve got to get it through him with bodies in front. It does happen, but it’s nice that you have that time to put everything on it.”

That’s exactly what the 6-foot-9 defenseman did in sparking the Bruins to come back from a 2-0 deficit and push for the overtime point while extending their point streak to a season-best 13 games and counting.

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Overtime heroics a reminder of what Bruins gave up in Seguin

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Overtime heroics a reminder of what Bruins gave up in Seguin

BOSTON – The Tyler Seguin trade from the Bruins is pretty much ancient history at this point.

It was almost five years ago, all of the good-but-not-great players Boston received in the deal from Dallas are long gone. The Bruins general manager that engineered the big trade is now dealing with totally different brush fires while running a star-crossed Edmonton Oilers group.

But the one Stars visit per season to Boston usually serves as a reminder of what the B’s dealt away in the Fourth of July trade, and for perhaps the first time ever Seguin looked like a legit, all-around No. 1 center in the Stars 3-2 overtime win over the B’s at TD Garden. Seguin made the highlight reel with an overtime game-winner after dangling through the entire Bruins group on the ice, and watching bemusement as Bruins kept diving at him trying to stop him.

The gassed trio of Ryan Spooner, David Pastrnak and Matt Grzelcyk were on the ice hemmed into the D-zone for a long time, and simply couldn’t get the puck away from the Stars once a delayed penalty was called on Grzelcyk.

“I felt like everyone was just sliding at me, and the whole time I wanted to pass, so I was just kind of looking for the right play and just kept holding it,” said Seguin, who is on pace for 39 goals and 75 points this season with the Stars. “I just kind of shot it and luckily it went in.”

It was more than luck as Anton Khudobin had already dropped into a crazed double-pad stacked save attempt while Seguin was still holding patiently onto the puck.

“That’s really tough, to be honest. He has the puck there, and all the way, all the way, going, going, going, going and I mean, guys were laying down and trying to block the shot,” said Khudobin. “He had a lot of patience and I think it went between my legs or something like that and it’s just tough. Good goal by him.'

“Nothing is impossible. You know, [Seguin] is a good player and he scored a pretty good goal. But at the same time I can stop that. But I didn’t this time and overtime is not really easy because it’s 3-on-3.”

But all the overtime heroics aside, Seguin was solid throughout the game. It was almost enough to make Bruins fans go through the entire gamut of emotions again at one of a number of trades where the organization cut bait on a talented player at a very young juncture of their career.

“I think he’s through testing. I think he has made himself to be a very good player, and he’s accountable in every situation. He’s really matured. I think he’s a guy that we don’t even worry about anymore,” said Dallas head coach Ken Hitchcock. “Everyone talked about, ‘Can you make him a one?’ Well, quite frankly, he’s a [No. 1 center], and he’s playing like a one. He’s played six games in a row like this, and this is what you want in a number one center. He’s doing the job.

“He’s killing penalties, he’s out there taking key face-offs, he’s quarterbacking the power play, and he’s playing against the other team’s best player. To me, that’s what a [No. 1 center] does, and that’s exactly what he’s doing.”

Mostly matched up against the Perfection Line that he used to be a part of, Seguin managed a 12-for-21 performance in the face-off circle while holding Bergeron, Marchand and Pastrnak off the board offensively. Even better for Seguin and Dallas, he was on the ice for the second Stars goal against the Bergeron trio for only the second even strength goal they’ve given up all season.

Seguin killed penalties, he finished with four shot attempts, had a couple of takeaways and played the kind of mature, 200-foot game that most wondered if he’d ever be capable of in his NHL career.

So credit where it’s due for Seguin showing all of that while clearly still in a headspace where coming to Boston is special for him.

“It’s special and it’s weird playing here still. You know, I enjoy the anthem, and looking up and seeing the banner for the team that I was a part of. It’s always going to be special, you know, playing here and having old teammates on the team,” said Seguin. “I’ve been thinking a lot more of defense, a lot more of face-offs, and a lot more of, you know, the little things. I’ve been judging my performances based on those things more than goals and assists. That’s been the biggest change for me, trying to put the work in, and [against the Bruins] it worked out for me.”

The Bruins have long since chalked up dealing a horse (Seguin) for ponies (Loui Eriksson, Reilly Smith, Matt Fraser and Joe Morrow) as a big fat loss considering it never got them any closer to another Stanley Cup, and it didn’t give them any players still of use to the organization less than five years later.

But Monday afternoon’s overtime loss to Seguin and the Stars was a different kind of frustrating while watching a more mature, seemingly changed Seguin that would have fit in very nicely with the direction that the Bruins are headed these days.

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