Bruins

Haggerty: Bruins get statement win in first game back

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Haggerty: Bruins get statement win in first game back

By JoeHaggerty
CSNNE.com

RALEIGH, N.C. If the Bruins could have up drawn up an ideal statement to make in their first game back from the All-Star break, the 3-2 disposal of a hungry, improving Hurricanes bunch in their North Carolina backyard was pretty close to it.

It was never going to be perfect, not after most of the Bs had five days off before jumping into things at the RBC Center on Tuesday night, but there were plenty of good things to build on with only 31 games left in the regular season.

The bottom line, of course, is that the Bruins emerged victorious and managed to beat the Hurricanes for the third time in the last two weeks.

We found a way to win and we played pretty good offensively most of the night, said Tim Thomas. We didnt create a ton offensively, but we found a way to get it done when we did do things right. Everybody is going to be sloppy after the break, and thats just the way it is. But under those circumstances we still found a way to win, so I think its a good stepping stone.

At the top of the Bostons wish list coming down the stretch is another hot streak for Nathan Horton in the goal-scoring department, and the right wing looks like he might be heating up after his performance Tuesday night. Before the break Horton joked he was going to find some new sticks, but instead the skilled forward went back to an old model and motto that worked for him.

He simply got confident, got engaged and got involved. Three shots on net and three registered hits are the right measure of strength and skill that the 25-year-old is constantly in search of balancing and he found the right mixture against the Hurricanes.

That culminated with Bostons go-ahead goal in the third period on a play that Horton created out of nothing behind the Carolina net. He was battling with Hurricanes defenseman Tim Gleason behind the Carolina cage, and fought to win possession away from a pair of Carolina skaters.

The puck shot over to David Krejci, and Krejci flipped a pass right to Horton in a crease right by the left post. Horton snapped up high with a wrist shot and suddenly he had his first goal in the last 11 games and his second goal in the last 21 games after starting out like a house of fire over the first month of the season.

It appears more and more that Horton is streaky, and that means there will be times when his feel and confidence erode. But that also means there will be binge scoring sessions when Horton can carry the team on his own, and it appears he's primed and ready to start another hot streak at just the right time.

Thats something that everyone has really been waiting to happen, and hopefully its a confidence boost and something that can really get him going, said coach Claude Julien. That was a goal scorers goal . . . He was in tight and he lifted it after a really great setup.

The other encouraging sign from one simple victory in February: The Bs best players continue to be their best players, with no signs of slowing.

Zdeno Chara had a monster January while skating an average of 24:59 per game for 14 games while putting up 12 points (6 goals, 6 assists) along with a plus-7 and continued that trend with a pair of assists and a dominating eight shots on net in the victory. Less obvious but even more valuable, Chara handled Eric Staal and allowed only a single shot on net to Carolinas most dominant scoring force in 20-plus minutes of ice time.

Chara had a turning-point game in the third-period collapse in Montreal last month, and it appears Big Zee is starting to build up another Norris Trophy resume with the way his game is rounding into shape beyond his mammoth 159-mph slapshot.

Patrice Bergeron scored his 17th goal of the season and his 9th in the last 13 games through a Brad Marchand screen, and Thomas came up large with a succession of save combinations in the final 20 minutes. Thomas simply reacted to Erik Coles long shot from the slot, and then kicked out his right hip on a leg save to stop Brandon Sutter on his rebound attempt right by the left post.

The successive save combination was a thing of beauty just as the win was for a Bruins team ready to sprint over the final 31 games with playoff position in the balance among a series of hard-fought games.

This is the final push. Its where the competitive juices get going and everybody is fighting for their lives, said Lucic. There are no easy games, but this is also where the fun begins. This is where we see exactly how good we can be.

Bostons first push after the All-Star break was a good one. Now all they need is 31 more just like it to get ready for what lays beyond.

Joe Haggerty can be reached at jhaggerty@comcastsportsnet.com.Follow Joe on Twitter at http:twitter.comHackswithHaggs

No hesitation from Chara in scoring after scary incident in Montreal

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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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