Fourth line comes through vs. Senators

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Fourth line comes through vs. Senators

BOSTON -- The Bs fourth line made no secrets about the fact they knew they could be better.

Daniel Paille had the only point among the three forwards through a combined 30 games played between himself, Shawn Thornton and Gregory Campbell ina lackingmonth of October. Thornton had scrapped in two of the last three games heading into Tuesday night against the Senators, and both he and Campbell dropped the gloves for the necessary emotional component provided by the energy line. In fact Thornton dropped 'em with former teammate Zenon Konopka on Tuesday night after fighting with former teammates Jim Vandermeer and Travis Moen in the last handful of games.

But above and beyond the friendly hockey fights, theevening was complete for the fourth line when all three forwards teamedto set up a third periodinsurance goal that helped form the final score in Bostons 5-3 victory over the Sens.There's a reason why the Bruins went 17-6-4 when Thornton, Paille or Campbell lit the lamp last season.

I think their line was more of what we know them to be, said coach Claude Julien. I thought they did a great job of starting the game for us in Montreal the other night got the puck in, and hemmed them in, and gave us some energy and against the Senators it was the same thing. We got a good first shift from that line.

They set the tempo of the games a lot of times. Theyre very good at that. I thought they played a lot better tonight and it was more of keeping the puck in the offensive zone and keeping them hemmed in. They seemed to read off each other better, and didnt get caught with outnumbered situations. Lately theyve been caught low, the three of them together. It was a good outing from that line rewarded with a goal from Paille.

The play was a reward for all three players getting some production for all their toil over the last few games. Campbell took the hit to scrape the puck off the wall, and Thornton tossed a perfectly placed lead pass to the speedy Paille. It might go down as one of the better looks Thornton has coaxed out of his hands in a respectable NHL career. The fourth line left wing dashed in behind the Ottawa defense and managed to flip the puck through Craig Andersons leg pads for Paille's second goal of the seasonjust 37 seconds after Johnny Boychuk had rifled home the game-winning goal.

It was pretty funny considering that Thornton had hosted Campbell at his house in Charlestown for a Halloween barbeque to talk about improving things within the team and more specifically their line.

We put pressure on ourselves obviously. We are older guys and we definitely want to be better, Thornton said. I actually had Soupy over last night to try and break the jinx. We thought about it and we obviously want to be able to contribute.

It was revealing on several levels for the fourth line and for the Bruins given Juliens choices throughout the game. The Bs coach started the energy playersat opening puck drop to give Boston the necessary momentum off the hop, and Julienthen went with the fourth line again in the shifts immediately following the third and fourth goals of the game.

Thats about as blatant a show of trust and responsibility as one will ever see the Bs coach make during a must-win game, and it was much to the chagrin of the card-carrying fourth line haters of the world. The fourth line paid back his faith by performing at each turn. Its no coincidence that the line's successful showing and a victorious effort were both connected, and the Bruins snapped their three-game losing streak because of it.

It isnt always about the points or production for the Bs fourth line, but the energy group setting the tone usually portends good things ahead for a Bruins team in need. That was never more apparent than Boston's team win over the Senators at their time of desperation.

Julien: 'A lot of problematic things' in Bruins loss to Avalanche

Julien: 'A lot of problematic things' in Bruins loss to Avalanche

BOSTON – The Bruins simply weren’t ready to play on Thursday night when the puck was dropped against the Colorado Avalanche at TD Garden. 

They fell down quickly by a 2-0 score, had a couple of completely inept power plays in the first period that sucked all the game’s momentum away from them and received some subpar goaltending from Anton Khudobin on the way to a 4-2 loss to the lowly Avs. About the only B’s person above reproach in this one was David Pastrnak after scoring a pair of goals in the second period to get Boston back into the game, but it all fell short in a very frustrating, lackadaisical loss to a Western Conference team that isn’t very good. 

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Needless to say B’s coach Claude Julien wasn’t too happy after a loss where the Bruins might have had more success with a smarter approach to holding the puck. 

“There were a lot of problematic things [in the loss]. No doubt that the power play could have helped us in the first period, and failed to do that. They’ve got to be better,” said Julien. “We needed some saves tonight, and we didn’t get them. [Anton Khudobin] has got to be better. 

“A lot of things here that we can be better at, and take responsibility [for]. But at the same time, you got to move on here.  It’s one of those nights that had we been smarter from the get go, we would have had a chance.”

Clearly it was about a lacking group effort when dissecting the loss, and the minus-3 for David Krejci on Thursday night marked back-to-back negative performances from the playmaking Czech center in big spots. The goaltending was shoddy with Anton Khudobin allowing four goals on 22 shots for Colorado, and unable to make plays on a couple of Colorado shots from outside the painted area that built up the Avs lead in the first place. 

But it was also very much about the inability of the Bruins to generate consistent offense outside of David Pastrnak’s offensive burst in the second period, and the complete breakdown of the Boston power play in the opening 20 minutes. The Bruins struggled to enter the zone in their first PP possession of the game, and then allowed a Nathan MacKinnon shorthanded goal after Torey Krug futilely dove at the blue line to try and keep the puck in the offensive zone. 

The Krug misplay at the offensive blue line gave MacKinnon a clear path the net, and he buried a wrist shot past Khudobin to get the one-sided loss rolling. Beyond the costly mistakes that ended up in the back of the net, the Bruins looked sloppy and slow-reacting in their breakouts and more than willing to settle for outside perimeter shots.

That doesn’t exactly make for a winning combo even when it comes against a flawed, underachieving team like Colorado, and especially when it comes less than 24 hours after a hard-fought road game in Washington DC. 

“I think we were still sleeping there early in the game and they were able to capitalize on their opportunities. We couldn’t claw our way back,” said Brad Marchand, who picked up an assist on David Pastrnak’s second goal of the night on a perfect dish for the one-timer. “I think it was definitely a mental [block]. You’re able to battle through that physical fatigue. It was more the mental mistakes and not being prepared right off the hop of the start of the game. Again, that’s kind of where we lost it.”

The sleepwalking Bruins lost Thursday night’s valuable two points as soon as the opening puck was dropped against the Avalanche, of course, and the Bruins never got out of lollygag mode at a time when intensity should have been automatic.