5 from the Third and OT

5 from the Third and OT

By Danny Picard
CSNNE.com

BOSTON -- @font-face font-family: "Times New Roman";p.MsoNormal, li.MsoNormal, div.MsoNormal margin: 0in 0in 0.0001pt; font-size: 12pt; font-family: "Times New Roman"; table.MsoNormalTable font-size: 10pt; font-family: "Times New Roman"; div.Section1 page: Section1; Here are five thoughts and observations from the thirdperiod of Saturday nights game that ended with a 3-2 Pittsburgh win inovertime:

1.) If there was ever a sign of justice being served, itwould have to be when Matt Cookes empty net bid in the final minute ofregulation was blocked by Tomas Kaberle, leading to the Bruins rushing up ice,and Krejci sniping top-left from the slot with 32.5 seconds left in the game,tying it at 2-2, and sending it into overtime.

2.) The Bs got a point, but just one. Dustin Jeffrey scoredthe game-winner for the Penguins with 3:08 left in overtime, as he camestreaking through the middle and flipped the puck top-left past Thomas. Still,the way the game went, the Bs shouldnt be too disappointed in getting onepoint out of it.

3.) The Bruins fourth line set the tone for the thirdperiod, thanks to a dominating shift in the opening minutes, as Daniel Pailleand Shawn Thornton continued to work the puck down low and put several shots onnet.

4.) The Bs killed off a huge penalty, six minutes into thethird, after Milan Lucic went to the box for a hook. Highlighting the importantpenalty kill was Dennis Seidenbergs huge hit on Kris Letang in open ice at theBruins blue line. It was clean, and was something Matt Cooke should take noteson.

5.) With less than 10 minutes left in a one-goal game, itstime to get gritty and greasy, which is something that Mark Recchi is great at,in front of opposing teams goaltenders. And he nearly re-directed a low TomasKaberle shot over the right shoulder of Marc-Andre Fleury with eight minutesleft in regulation. It was a near-perfect attempt, but as most of the game wentto that point, it was another near-miss for the Bruins offense.

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Here are five thoughts and observations from a second periodthat saw the Penguins fall behind 1-0, and then take a 2-1 lead into the break:

1.) Zdeno Chara gave the Bs a 1-0 lead, seven-and-a-halfminutes into the second, sniping a wrister top shelf from the high slot. Butcredit the entire play to David Krejcis wizard-like talents. Krejci took thepuck over the blue line, and sent a backhand sauce-pass to a wide open Chara,who stepped in and had all day to pick the corner of his choice.

2.) The Penguins got right back into the game, less thanthree minutes after Charas goal, when Jordan Staal tied the game at 1-1. Staalconverted on a 2-on-1 with Tyler Kennedy, after Johnny Boychuk made a bad pinchat the Pittsburgh blue line to try and keep the puck in the offensive zone.Boychuk can be blamed for that one.

3.) Exactly 1:10 after Staal tied the game, Dustin Jeffrey putthe Penguins up 2-1 after he beat Tim Thomas with a low, cross-body shot fromthe slot. The Bruins were caught flat-footed defensively, and seemed to be outof it for a few minutes after Boychuks decision to pinch.

4.) However, Boychuk did get some cheers from the Bruinsfaithful in the second period, after he buried Matt Cooke behind Bruins net. Cookecame in hard to finish a check on Boychuk, but Boychuk stood him up and knockedhim down hard to the ice.

5.) You have to give it to Michael Ryder, who continues tocarry the puck wide and deep into the offensive zone, looking like a mandetermined to get the puck to the net. Hes yet to beat Marc-Andre Fleury onthis night, but hes clearly giving Boston its best offensive effort of thenight through two periods.
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Here are five thoughts and observations from a scorelessfirst period between the Bruins and Penguins:

1.) All eyes in the TD Garden were on the villain MattCooke, who took his first faceoff in Bruins zone on the wing with JohnnyBoychuk, who has tried to fight Cooke on several occasions this season. Butnothing came of it, and Cooke was fairly quiet throughout the first 20 minutes.

2.) There were two fights though. Shawn Thornton askedMichael Rupp to dance three minutes into the game, and Rupp accepted the titleshot. Rupp went on to give Thornton a few good rights and took him down to theice to win the bout. The second fight saw Nathan Horton and Craig Adams go atit in a quick, spirited fight with two minutes left in the first.

3.) As for the hockey game, Michael Ryder and Nathan Hortonhad Bostons best scoring chances in the first, but neither could finish,thanks to some timely blocking from Pittsburgh defensemen and some solid savesfrom Marc-Andre Fleury.

4.) Tyler Seguin was impressive with the puck in the firstperiod, in the most important zone on the ice: the neutral zone. Seguin isskating with Chris Kelly and Ryder, and showed no signs of panic when it wastime to make a play.

5.) And when Seguin was getting bullied, his teammateswerent timid either. Adam McQuaid came to the aid of Seguin when Max Talbotcontinued to push Seguin after a whistle, and basically let Talbot know thatwasnt going to fly on this night.

Danny Picard is on Twitter at http:twitter.comDannyPicard. You can listen to Danny on his streaming radio show I'm Just Sayin' Monday-Friday from 9-10 a.m. on CSNNE.com.

Bruins make official free agent signings of Liles, Nash, Khudobin

Bruins make official free agent signings of Liles, Nash, Khudobin

The Bruins made a number of signings official on the first day of NHL free agency on Friday along with the big prize in hard-hitting, productive center David Backes.

Backup goaltender Anton Khudobin signed a two-year deal worth $1.2 million per season to return as a goaltending tandem with Tuukka Rask as they were back in a highly successful 2012-13 NHL season.

Hustling, grinding fourth line forward Riley Nash was signed to a two-year, $1.8 million contract with the Bruins as well, and had nine goals and 22 points in 64 games for the Carolina Hurricanes last season in an energy forward role. In his five-year NHL career, Nash has played in 242 games, amassing 31 goals and 50 assists for 81 points with 69 penalty minutes, including a career-high 10 goals a couple of years ago with the Hurricanes.

The 36-year-old John-Michael Liles signed a one-year, $2 million contract with the Bruins after arriving from Carolina at the NHL trade deadline last spring. Liles appeared in 17 games and notched six assists along with a minus-6 rating for the Bruins in 2015-16 after being acquired for Anthony Camara, a 2016 third-round pick and a 2017 fifth-round pick on February 29, 2016. Prior to joining up with Boston, the 5-foot-10, 185-pound Liles played in all 64 games for Carolina, recording six goals and nine assists for 15 points with 16 penalty minutes.

“We went out to identify a primary target in David Backes as a center, right wing candidate. He provides depth and balance to our lineup, as did Riley Nash. And Anton Khudobin addressed an area that we seemed to have chased for a little while and possibly with Malcolm’s [Subban] injury we needed to address that for the next couple of seasons. John-Michael Liles is a player that we acquired last year that really added a lot to the mobility and the transition game and we’re excited about bringing him back,” said Bruins GM Don Sweeney. “Tim Schaller was a local boy at Providence College that we went out and identified another size, strength, left-shot, penalty kill and continued to add depth. Tyler Randell emerged last year was on our roster all year long, contributed and was a real hard-nosed player, sticks up for his teammates, was able to contribute goals, albeit not necessarily in the lineup every night, bringing balance. And Tommy Cross and the leadership qualities he brings to Providence for younger players to continue to develop.

“He found himself playing in NHL games, acquainted himself very well, just a real quality person across the board. So I think the overall philosophy of today and going into the free agent period was to address some needs and we did that. But we’ve created what I think is a real internal competition for our younger players to step up and emerge around what I think we’ve added to the core group of our players. They should be excited about this opportunity.”

Tommy Cross, Tyler Randell and Tim Schaller all signed one-year, two-way deals with the Bruins for an NHL value of $600,000, but are all expected to play the bulk of the season at the AHL level barring anything unexpected. 

Joe Haggerty can be followed on Twitter: @HacksWithHaggs

Backes: Most of the talk has me playing center for Bruins

Backes: Most of the talk has me playing center for Bruins

David Backes on the Felger and Mazz show on 98.5 The Sports Hub, and simulcast on CSN, tells fill-in hosts Jim Murray and Greg Dickerson there has also been some discussion with the Bruins of putting him on the wing with Patrice Bergeron and Brad Marchand.

Watch the video above for more. 

Bruins lose Stempniak, Eriksson, others in free agency

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Bruins lose Stempniak, Eriksson, others in free agency

The Bruins lost a number of free agents on after the market opened at noontime. None bigger than Loui Eriksson signing a six-year, $36 million contract with the Vancouver Canucks to play with the Sedin Twins.

It’s the exact level of term and salary that Eriksson said he was looking for from the Bruins in contract negotiations around the trade deadline, but the Bruins never really moved from their offer of a four-year deal at comparable money.

The Bruins will miss the 30-goal production and solid all-around, two-way play from Eriksson as he heads to the West Coast, but they also traded in a passive player in Eriksson for an in-your-face, physical leader in David Backes on a five-year deal. 

Backes is much more of a Bruins-style player than Eriksson could have ever hoped to have been. That part of it is a win for a Bruins fan base that wants intensity and physicality from their players.

The Bruins also watched Jonas Gustavsson sign a one-year, $800,000 contract with Peter Chiarelli and the Edmonton Oilers, Brett Connolly sign a one-year deal for $850,000 with the Washington Capitals, Zach Trotman signs a one-year deal for $950,000 and Lee Stempniak ink a two-year, $5 million contract with the Carolina Hurricanes after being a non-contract training camp invite with New Jersey last season.

Sweeney had maintained as late as Thursday that he was still keeping ties with many of Boston’s free agents prior to the noon opening of the free agent market, but clearly that’s changed.

“We’ll continue to have talks and sort of figure out where things may go. We’ve had talks with a number of players to see what they would like to see as the opportunity here or what we see as a fit,” said Sweeney on the Torey Krug conference call on Thursday night. “I haven’t ruled absolutely any of that out; just haven’t found common ground and obviously it gets harder and harder as we go further along in the process.”