Hamilton sticking around with Bruins; stars in victory

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Hamilton sticking around with Bruins; stars in victory

RALEIGH, NC Apparently it isnt a Bruins game these days without a big play from 19-year-old rookie Dougie Hamilton.

Once again it wasnt a perfect performance as his natural offensive instincts took him way away from his normal position in a key sequence at the end of the second period. Hamilton hung Chris Kelly out to dry on the Eric Staal goal that tied things at 3-3 when the Bruins center was forced to break the puck out of the defensive zone on his own.

But Hamilton made up for it by making a heady, slick cross-ice pass in the final two minutes of regulation that set up a David Krejci one-timer, and powered the Bruins to an entertaining 5-3 victory at PNC Arena.

Hamilton faked with a big shot from the right circle once he corralled wildly bouncing puck, and was on the money with a tape-to-tape pass.

I think were going to see a lot of this stuff. The thing that really impressed me about him when I watched him in junior this year was his vision, said Julien of the trip the Bs coach and GM Peter Chiarelli took to watch the young defenseman at Niagara during the lockout. He sees the ice so well and finds the open seams. You talk about the game-winning goal, but there was a few times he found an open guy right up the seam and got us going on our way in transition.

Thats what weve been talking about for a long time. We wanted some guys that can move the puck. Were big and now we find some defenseman that can move the puck extremely well. He certainly fits that mold.

Hamilton now has assists in three straight games for the Bruins, and has posted four assists in five games while keeping close pace with fellow rookie blueliner Justin Schultz (2 goals, 3 assists in four games) of the Edmonton Oilers. Bostons rookie blueliner finished with four shots on net and a pair of hits in 19:19 of ice time. That all of this happened on the day when the Bruins made it official Hamilton wont be going back to junior hockey was all the sweeter for the first year player.

The Bruins had until Hamilton suits up for his sixth game to make a decision on whether or not to return him to the OHLs Niagara IceDogs, but the understanding was that he was going to stick with the NHL club unless he fell flat on his face. It became the biggest no-brainer in the history of earth to keep the teenaged skater after watching him excel in some pretty big spots.

Hamilton has done the exact opposite of struggling while becoming one of the most impactful rookies in the league over the seasons first two weeks.

He has a lot of poise and he plays a very mature game, said Bruins GM Peter Chiarelli. Im sure inside he felt relieved, but based on how Ive seen him play, it wouldnt surprise me if his play doesnt go one way or the other now that he knows hes staying because hes a real poised and mature player.

Chiarelli said he told him a week ago that things were looking good for him to stick with the Bruins in these terms: Look, things are going well, so dont screw it up.

Hamilton has proceeded to not screw up in the best way possible and even more impressively didnt relax or ease up after learning of his favorable NHL fate. Now he'll move in and live with defenseman Adam McQuaid for the rest of this season as he continues to assimilate into the NHL lifestyle as a wide-eyed youngster.

Its just overall excitement, said Hamilton. Its been my dream ever since I was a little kid to play in the NHL. So I think for me its a dream come true. I just want to keep on getting better and having fun.

The dream is just getting started for Hamilton and the Bruins, and its clear neither player nor team will be waking up anytime soon.

Dupont: If Tuukka Rask is healthy, he should start for Bruins

Dupont: If Tuukka Rask is healthy, he should start for Bruins

Mike Felger and Kevin Paul Dupont debate if it is time for the Bruins to send a message to Tuukka Rask and have Anton Khudobin get the starts in net.

Nash stepping up when Bruins need him most

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Nash stepping up when Bruins need him most

BROOKLYN -- It took most of his first season in Boston, but Riley Nash is hitting his groove with the Bruins at exactly the right time.

Nash came up huge in a must-win game Saturday night against the Islanders, scoring both goals in a 2-1 win over the Isle. The unheralded Nash and equally unheralded backup goalie Anton Khudobin were the two most important performers in the tight, playoff-style win that snapped a four game losing streak while pushing the B's back into playoff position.

"That's part of [a big win], right? Big performances,” said interim coach Bruce Cassidy. "Generally you look to your best players, but [Nash] did a really good job. He's got a sneaky shot, so hopefully he uses it a little bit more. You can't say enough about those goals. We needed them tonight.

"Generally our top guns have been good offensively and have come through. But tonight it was the lesser lights for us in terms of offense, so good for us.”

Both Nash goals were titanic. The first came on the first shift following the Islanders goal in the first period. The fourth-line winger stripped Isles defenseman Scott Mayfield in the neutral zone and then flipped a shot past Thomas Greiss to the short side that tied the game at 1-1. Then in the third period, Dominic Moore hit Nash in stride as he sped into the offensive zone, and Nash weaved through defenders before sneaking one past Greiss for the game-winner.

The two goals give Nash four goals and six points in 21 games since the All-Star break, in line with his normal offensive output during his NHL career, and a step up from the three goals and nine points in his first 52 games this season.

The affable Nash was more than happy to contribute in a big win, and enthused at seeing the offense finally starting to flow on a semi-regular basis when the Bruins can really use it.

"It's quite the output as opposed to the season I've had so far, so I'll take it and be happy that we won the game,” said Nash. "I think everyone in here knew that was the biggest game of the year. It was going to be a really big uphill battle if we lost that one.

"Both teams came out desperate in a pretty tight, playoff-style game, but that's what it's going to be like for the rest of the season. So we've got to hunker down and take it one game at a time as the saying goes.”

With the Bruins third line fading a bit in these tight, physical games where players have to battle for their ice, it's been vital that Boston's fourth line step up and provide big minutes at both ends of the ice. Nash and Co. did more than that on Saturday night by potentially saving the season with his biggest, best game in a Bruins uniform.