Bruins look to build momentum after shootout loss

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Bruins look to build momentum after shootout loss

BUFFALO It wasnt quite back-to-back wins, but the Bruins that are suiting up and skating each game in Black and Gold sweaters are starting to look a little more familiar.

The Bs crew took points in consecutive games for the first time in a month and continued to build momentum with a 2-1 shootout loss to the Buffalo Sabres that could have gone either way at the First Niagara Center.

It had been a while since wed strung together two good 60-minute games. We had a good effort in St. Louis and our goal is to build momentum, said Gregory Campbell. We wanted to play a solid game against a desperate team. With 20 games left you play desperate teams and close games, and were finding our game slowly but surely. We just have to build on that.

Shootout scores from Thomas Vanek and Derek Roy were the difference-makers in a decision that dropped the Bruins to 7-2 in the shootout this season, but there werent many Bruins hanging their heads afterward.

Tuukka Rask made 25 saves in a return to form and Zdeno Chara had his second consecutive strong game after going through a two-weekdown period. Chara saved the game in overtime by sweeping a Thomas Vanek shot away from the open net, and potted the game-tying score in the third period for his ninth goal of the season.

The fourth line created the energy to start the third period that helped push the Bruins into overtime and earned a power play that led into Charas score shortly after the man advantage had expired.

The offense still wasnt moving as fluidly for the Bruins as it did during the salad days of November and December, but it was ably supported by the familiar Bs formula of grinding defense and timely goaltending.

It was a game that with a matter of luck it could have been on our side. It was a good, close game, said Chara. It was a good effort. We competed, we battled hard and it was a really close game.

Both teams played well, both goalies made big saves and it was just too bad we couldnt get the extra point in the shootout.

Even more than the defense and the goalie play, the Bruins were pleased with a second straight game that saw them finish up strong with a third period effort they could be proud of. The Bs out-shot the Sabres by a 15-5 margin while tying up the game and forcing overtime, and seemed to be walking on familiar footing headed into the overtime session on a power play.

Its a far cry from the recent four-game stretch where they were outscored 5-1 in the third period and looked like they were lacking their normal skating legs.

The first two periods I thought were pretty even. But I thought in the third period we came out, went after the goal to tie it up and we were the better team in the third period, said Julien. Im definitely happy with the way weve been coming out in the third the last couple of games.

The Bruins couldnt close the deal in OT or during the shootout, but it was an effort they could discuss with their heads cast upward.

They hadnt been able to do that in two straight games in a long, long time and the Bruins are taking that as a sign of good things to come.

Win vs. Islanders 'a nice building block' for Bruins

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Win vs. Islanders 'a nice building block' for Bruins

BROOKLYN, NY – It wasn’t particularly entertaining and it won’t be all that memorable down the ride aside from the timing and importance of the meeting between the Bruins and Islanders. But it was a solid 2-1 team win for the Bruins over the Islanders at the Barclays Center on Saturday night with the B’s grinding all the way down to the end while protecting a one-goal lead through much of the third period.

Nearly everybody across Boston’s roster contributed in the major victory over the team trying to bypass them in the wild card standings, and it was a beautiful thing. Anton Khudobin stepped up when Tuukka Rask couldn’t start Saturday night’s showdown with a lower body issue, and Riley Nash supplied both Boston goals from a fourth line that’s played some of their best hockey lately.

It was unlikely heroes all around for the Black and Gold in the tightly-wound contest, but that diversity of talent and production can be a very good thing for a team looking to make that playoff push.

“You have to stay with it. You have to stay in the moment and stay with the game no matter what’s happening during the game. That’s how you get results, and that’s how you find ways to persevere through adversity,” said Patrice Bergeron. “We just got back to playing stingy, especially in the neutral zone. We got away from it the last few games, and it was nice tonight to be back playing a low-scoring game like what we’re used to playing.”

When it was all said and done the Bruins only allowed 19 shots on net and also killed off six penalties in the kind of grinding defensive showdown that you haven’t seen all that much out of the Black and Gold lately. It was exactly what Cassidy was looking for to snap the four-game losing streak, and once again start pushing the Bruins upward into the playoff chase.

“That’s the type of win that goes a long way in the room when your goaltender is battling hard and fighting that hard to see pucks and find pucks and your D are blocking shots. And you kill that many penalties. It was a nice building block for us,” said Cassidy. “From the goalie on out, everybody was in there [in the win]. It was a tough game. It was a nice Bruins win. We had been doing it with offense earlier, and we’ve got to be able to do it both ways. You need to be able to win 2-1 hockey games, and it had been awhile.”

Now it’s simply up to the Bruins to be feeling good about their latest win while going back to basics, and looking for more next time around after ending their worst losing streak of the season.

Anton Khudobin battles for a huge win filling in for Tuukka Rask

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Anton Khudobin battles for a huge win filling in for Tuukka Rask

BROOKLYN, NY – Things didn’t go so well last season for the Bruins when Tuukka Rask suddenly wasn’t well enough to play in the last game of the season, so there was good reason for the B’s to be a little nervous when their No. 1 goalie again couldn’t answer the bell Saturday night vs. the Islanders.

Anton Khudobin had won four games in a row headed into Saturday night, of course, and in his previous start he’d helped snap a 10-game winning streak for the Calgary Flames. So perhaps it wasn’t all that surprising when Khudobin stood tall for the Bruins making 18 saves in a tight, nervy 2-1 win over the Isles at the Barclays Center.

“You don’t have that many shots, but maybe 10 scoring chances…that can be tougher than seeing 30 shots and same amount of scoring chances,” said Khudobin. “But I’m glad got the job done, we got our points and we got the ‘W’.”

It wasn’t wall-to-wall action in a game where both teams combined for 37 shots on net, but it was still impressive that Khudobin and the B’s special teams killed off six Islander power plays in such a tight hockey game. After the B’s backup netminder was lauded for the way he battled in the crease and competed for pucks like his team’s very life was on the line in a pivotal game.

“That’s the type of win that goes a long way in the room when your goaltender is battling hard, and fighting that hard to see pucks and your D are blocking shots. And you kill that many penalties. It was a nice building block for us,” said Bruce Cassidy. “I loved his performance. He’s a battler. He got swimming a couple of times, but that’s Dobby. He keeps it interesting for you. He’s a battler and he always has been. That’s what we needed tonight.”

One could spend days analyzing Cassidy's words and wondering much of that was deserved, appreciative praise for Khudobin, and how much of that might have been a veiled message to Boston's No. 1 goaltender sitting back home in Boston. 

The best save of the night probably won’t even count as a save for the Russian netminder. It was John Tavares, after having beaten Khudobin once in the first period, moving into the offensive zone with speed during a third period power play, and getting an open look at the net front in the high slot. Khudobin thought quickly and dropped into the unconventional double-stack pad save that seemed to throw Tavares off just a little, and the Isles sniper smoked the shot off the crossbar rather than tying up the game.

“I didn’t touch it. I didn’t really have time to get there, so the only thing I tried to do was the two-pad stack, old school Bob Essensa-style,” said Khudobin, who has now improved to 6-5-1 with a 2.60 goals against and an .899 save percentage this season. “Then he hit the crossbar. You need to get some luck in this league, and if you don’t get luck you’re going to lose games.”

A little luck and a little good, old-fashioned battling between the pipes was enough for Khudobin and the Bruins in Saturday night’s mammoth win. Now the questions become whether or not to go right back to Khudobin again on Tuesday at home against the Nashville Predators.