B's score impressive rebound win over Preds

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B's score impressive rebound win over Preds

Every hockey team has a handful of gut-check games throughout the season when their mettle is tested.

For the Bruins Saturday afternoons showdown with the Nashville Predators was one of those kinds of games. Two teams playing a heavy brand of hockey with playoff quality rosters went head-to-head.

The Bs were coming off their most humbling hockey game in nearly four years so to say they were motivated would have been fair, and to say that the Bs were a little pissed off would have been deadly accurate. So they charged into Saturdays challenge against Pekka Rinne and the Predators with vigor and came away with an impressive rebound 4-3 shootout win over Nashville at TD Garden.

It wasnt easy as Rinne dominated much of the game with 38 saves and the Bruins found themselves losing with only a few minutes on the clock in the third period. But the Bruins stayed within their game plan, refused to lose their composure and relied on each player to do his job on the 20-man game roster.

We thought we deserved better: we played well, we had a lot of chances, and we had to find a way. I think thats what we talked about before the game, it was to play for 60 minutes and to not let up. We did that, said Patrice Bergeron, who scored the teams first goal and capped off the shootout scoring to clinch the game. They scored on their chances, their opportunities, but we came back and we found the big goals.

It was Bergeron and Brad Marchand that set the tone early for the Bs when it appeared things were about to go off the tracks with a too many men on the ice penalty in the first period. Marchand hunted down the puck like a hound until he was attacking the heart of the Preds defense shorthanded.

He beat both Shea Weber and Ryan Suter to the puck in the corner of the offensive zone, curled back toward the middle of the ice and dropped a perfect pass for Bergeron. The center stepped into the puck and fired off an overpowering one-timer that got the Bruins on the board first, and served notice that the Bs meant business.

While Bergeron finished the play, it was Marchands energy and refusal to be denied that set the dogged tone for Bostons afternoon.

That was a prime example of what we were looking for in Saturdays game. We talked about after the first that we needed to put the puck behind their Ds, said Claude Julien. Working through, getting it back, and dropping it off to Bergie, it was the kind of effort that our team looks for and needs if it wants to be one of the better teams in the league.

The game ended Bostons two-game losing streak on home, erased the bitter taste of the blowout loss to the Sabres and saw nearly every single key player for the Black and Gold come through with a big performance. Bergeron, Marchand, Johnny Boychuk, Rich Peverley and Tyler Seguin were again outstanding, Milan Lucic was the best player on the ice for either team and Zdeno Chara was solid despite suffering a right hand injury during the third period that caused him some discomfort.

As a team, the Bruins saw a 60-minute effort finally materialize, and Julien could only pick apart a short five minute lull at the end of the second period. Other than that the Bruins dominated a game where they out-shot the Predators by a 41-22 margin through sixty minutes of regulation, overtime and the shootout.

It appears the back to basics message in hard-working practices over the previous two days did the trick for a scuffling Bruins bunch.

What we told our players before the game, that it would be a shame if we wasted all that good effort in the last two days and not come out with the same thing this afternoon. I liked our game, said Julien. Not what the score was, the game was a good one from our end. I thought our work ethic, our commitment, maybe for, Id say, maybe for four or five minutes in the second period, near the end, they kind of seemed to pick up the momentum . . . but other than that, I thought we played a real solid 60-minute game.

Now the challenge for the Bruins is to build on that effort and recreate it at least a few more times to get another winning streak going.

It was the same challenge that faced the Bs after their solid win in Washington last week, and will remain until they can break out of their win one, lose one mediocre run of the last six weeks.

All-Star backcourt leads Raptors down stretch to beat Celtics, 101-94

All-Star backcourt leads Raptors down stretch to beat Celtics, 101-94

BOSTON – With Isaiah Thomas, the Boston Celtics would have had their hands full trying to defeat the Toronto Raptors. 

But without him (right groin injury) and his 26.0 points and 6.2 assists, an already daunting task became that much harder. 

The Celtics played a good game, but against Toronto and their All-Star backcourt it just wasn’t enough as the Raptors did just enough in the fourth to hold off Boston for a 101-94 win. 

A 3-pointer by Marcus Smart brought the Celtics within 95-91 and following a defensive stop they had a chance to make it a one-possession game. 

But Jae Crowder’s 3-pointer rattled in and out of the rim. 

And on the ensuing possession, Al Horford was called for a foul while defending Kyle Lowry on a 3-point attempt with 30.6 seconds to play. 

Lowry's play down the stretch was indicative of the problems Boston had with the all-star guard all game. 

He finished with a game-high 34 points, 14 of which came in the third quarter which is when Toronto took over.

His All-Star backcourt mate DeMar DeRozan, ranked among the NBA’s top-5 scorers, had 24 points for the Raptors.

Meanwhile the Celtics were still trying to replace leading scorer Isaiah Thomas’ 26 points and 6.2 assists per game. 

Boston didn’t need one player to fill that void, but rather a collective effort by all the players to do what they normally do, only better. 

But that did not happen on Friday; not even close. 

In the fourth quarter, the Celtics would score and make a play defensively which then put them in position to score as well as get the crowd hyped. 

They consistently came up short until Avery Bradley drained a 3-pointer with less than three minutes to play that cut Toronto’s lead to 91-87.

He would finish with 19 points, sharing team-high scoring honors with Al Horford.

Raptors head coach Dwane Casey called a time-out with 2:53 to play. 

Boston was unable to get any closer for the remainder of the game, a game in which the Celtics led by as many as 14 points in the third quarter. 

However, the Raptors chipped away and eventually regained the lead with a 15-2 run capped off by a 3-pointer by Patrick Patterson that put the Raptors ahead 63-62. 

Toronto’s momentum continued as they closed out the quarter with a 12-6 spurt which gave them a 75-68 lead going into the fourth quarter. 

Despite spending the entire fourth quarter trailing, the Celtics continued to battle but it was to no avail as the Raptors executed at a high level at both ends of the floor to secure the win which was their eighth victory in their last nine games. 

Halftime stars, studs and duds: Celtics go on second-quarter run

Halftime stars, studs and duds: Celtics go on second-quarter run

BOSTON – The Celtics used a blistering run in the second quarter to propel them to a 50-42 lead over the Toronto Raptors after two quarters of play. 

It was the second straight game the Celtics had to play without their leading scorer Isaiah Thomas who remains out indefinitely with a right groin injury. 

As was the case in Boston’s 30-point win at Orlando, Avery Bradley took it upon himself to pick up some of the scoring slack as he leads the Celtics with 13 points at the half. 

Boston also got strong play in the first half from Al Horford who set the tone with a pair of 3’s in the first few minutes of the game. He would score eight first-half points to go with three rebounds. 

And then there was the Celtics bench seemingly picking up where they left off in Orlando.

Jaylen Brown and Terry Rozier were once again making their impact early and often as they scored seven and four points, respectively. 

The game was relatively close until Boston, leading 32-31, went on a 14-0 run.

But the Raptors, once again among the top teams in the East, were able to outscore Boston 11-5 the rest of the second quarter which cut Boston’s led at the half down to eight points.

Here’s a look at the first half Stars, Studs and Duds from tonight’s game. 

 

STARS

Avery Bradley

Showing some serious two-way game tonight, Bradley was scoring the ball well in addition to doing a better-than-average job defensively on DeMar DeRozan. At the half, Bradley had 13 points on 5-for-6 shooting with three rebounds and two assists.

Kyle Lowry

He’s an All-Star but this kid doesn’t get enough credit for his talent. The Celtics had problems with him for large chunks of the first half as he led all Toronto scorers with 13 points on 5-for-8 shooting.

 

STUDS

Jaylen Brown

Very active at both ends of the floor, making the most of his chance to see extended minutes. At the half he had seven points along with two rebounds.

Kelly Olynyk

This was one of the more active games we’ve seen Olynyk play in, especially when it came to rebounding. At the half he had five points and seven rebounds. 

Norman Powell

He helped Toronto get off to a solid start, and finished the half with seven points. 

 

DUDS

DeMar DeRozan

He had eight points at the half, but the Celtics made him work a lot harder for it than he’s used to as DeRozan shot just 4-for-12 from the field.