Bruins top forward line finally explodes

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Bruins top forward line finally explodes

WASHINGTON The two biggest problems with the Bruins in their playoff series against the Capitals have been major ones: 1) Tim Thomas was being outplayed by his rookie counterpart Braden Holtby and 2) Bostons best offensive forwards were putting up more zeroes than can be found in Donald Trumps bank account.

Both trends needed to be reversed if the Bruins were going to taste success on the road in Game 6 and bring the series back to their own barn on Wednesday night.

Thats exactly what happened for the Black and Gold.

Thomas was much more like himself in a 4-3 overtime victory over the Capitals at the Verizon Center, and the trio of Tyler Seguin, Milan Lucic and David Krejci took things over in the second half of the game.

Im sure it helps. There is definitely a lot demanded out of the top forwards, but rightfully so because theyve shown what theyre capable of, said Andrew Ference. As a competitive team and an honest team you just ask that each guy play up to their capabilities. I think guys on our team took the right path and rose to the challenge. They didnt shrink away and it was great to see as a teammate.

Rich Peverley had been a one-man band through the first five games of the playoffs when it comes to the top flight offensive forwards on the Bruins roster, and some were wondering if Boston was simply missing Nathan Horton too much to generate any offense.

Apparently thats not the case.

"We really thought going into tonights game we needed to get production," Seguin said. "I thought we played well. The guys that were getting production this season really had a good game. There werent too many good bounces so far in the series so to see it happen tonight . . . to see the guys finally be rewarded is definitely nice.

The rewards were bountiful for all three players on the line and underscored the smart coaching decision by Claude Julien to load up his top line with offensive skill even though it might cause him a little D-zone anxiety from time-to-time. But for a team thats struggled to score more than two goals per game in the playoffs, a little more offense is just what the hockey doctor ordered.

Lucic finished with two assists -- including a deft pass to Seguin for the overtime game-winner -- in his first real offensive appearance of the series.

David Krejci ended a string of five invisible offensive performances by potting his first goal of the series in the first period, and creating the game-winning play when he schooled Nicklas Backstrom in his own end of the ice.

And of course Seguin brought the heat and the speed by turning his skating game up a gear and placing all kinds of pressure on a Washington defense that wasnt ready to handle it.

Much was expected from that trio of players, and they didnt deliver until Game 6 of the series against Washington. But better late than never.

Because of their Game 6 performances, the Bruins -- with their postseason experience and some suddenly hot offensive players -- are looking very formidable.

Red Sox celebration quickly washes away walk-off loss

Red Sox celebration quickly washes away walk-off loss

NEW YORK -- It had the potential to be the most awkward celebration ever.

In the top of the ninth inning at Yankee Stadium, before their game was complete, the Red Sox became American League East champions, by virtue of one other division rival -- Baltimore -- coming back to beat another -- Toronto -- in the ninth inning.

That eliminated the Blue Jays from the division race, and made the Sox division champs.

But that ninth inning reversal of fortune was about to visit the Red Sox, too.

Craig Kimbrel faced four hitters and allowed a single and three straight walks, leading to a run. When, after 28 pitches, he couldn't get an out, he was lifted for Joe Kelly, who recorded one out, then yielded a walk-off grand slam to Mark Teixeira.

The Yankees celebrated wildly on the field, while the Red Sox trudged into the dugout, beset with mixed emotions.

Yes, they had just lost a game that seemed theirs. But they also had accomplished something that had taken 158 games.

What to do?

The Sox decided to drown their temporary sorrows in champagne.

"As soon as we got in here,'' said Jackie Bradley Jr., "we quickly got over it.''

From the top of the eighth until the start of the bottom of the ninth, the Red Sox seemed headed in a conventional celebration.

A two-run, bases-loaded double by Mookie Betts and a wild pitch -- the latter enabling David Ortiz to slide into home and dislodge the ball from former teammate Tommy Layne's glove --- had given the Sox a 3-0 lead.

Koji Uehara worked around a walk to post a scoreless walk and after the top of the ninth, the Sox called on Craig Kimbrel, who had successfully closed out all but two save opportunities all season.

But Kimbrel quickly allowed a leadoff single to Brett Gardner and then began pitching as though he forgot how to throw strikes. Three straight walks resulted in a run in and the bases loaded.

Joe Kelly got an out, but then Teixeira, for the second time this week, produced a game-winning homer in the ninth. On Monday, he had homered in Toronto to turn a Blue Jays win into a loss, and now, here he was again.

It may have been a rather meaningless victory for the Yankees -- who remain barely alive for the wild card -- but it did prevent them the indignity of watching the Red Sox celebrate on their lawn.

Instead, the Sox wore the shame of the walk-off -- at least until they reached their clubhouse, where the partying began in earnest.

It had taken clubhouse attendants less than five minutes to cover the floor and lockers with plastic protective sheets. In a matter of a few more minutes, the air was filled with a mix of beer and bubbly.

President of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski wore a goggles and only socks on his feet.

As the spray reached every inch of the clubhouse, David Ortiz exclaimed: "I'm going to drown in this man.''

Defeat? What defeat?