Haggerty: 15 thoughts from Bruins-Lightning

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Haggerty: 15 thoughts from Bruins-Lightning

TAMPA Here are five thoughts from the first period with the Bruins trailing the Tampa Bay Lightning by a 1-0 score after the first 20 minutes of play at the Tampa Bay Times Forum.

1)Another disinterested first period for the Bruins against the Lightning. Sloppy on defense, little emotion and no real push offensively coupled with pedestrian opponents are bringing the worst out of the Bs. Very flat, very passive and no physical engagement whatsoever for the Bs, but Id call it a malaise more than slump.

2)Second game in a row that the Bruins had only six shots at the end of the first period. Thats simply not enough offense for the Bruins and not enough sustained possession in the offensive zone.

3)Three Bs bodies (Zdeno Chara, Johnny Boychuk and David Krejci) all around Vinny Lecavalier in front of the Boston net, but My Center Vinny beat them all to a loose with Tim Thomas way out of the net after challenging Marty St. Louis. Too easy for Lecavalier and not enough push-back from the Bruins.

4) Patrice Bergeron had to retreat to the Bs dressing room twice during the first period for what looked like equipment issues. He missed one of the Bs power plays because of it. No. 37 needs to lock down the equipment problems because the Bs can afford to miss him in big moments.

5)Brett Clark blocked four shots in the first period for Tampa and literally walked right in front of the Joe Corvo slap shot. The guy seems to have no fear. Impressive.

TAMPA Here are five thoughts from the second period with the Bruins and Tampa Bay Lightning tied at a 2-2- score after the first 40 minutes of play at the Tampa Bay Times Forum.

1)Claude Julien calls out Nathan Horton after last nights game, and the right wing responds by scoring a pair of goals and helping keep his hockey club in the game. Horton leads the Bruins with four shots on net and had another three shots blocked in the most active offensive night hes had in quite some time. When is Claude Julien going to go on his motivational speaking tour?

2)Another group of defensive breakdowns for the Bruins leading to a Tom Pyatt goal. Milan Lucic made an ill-advised cross-ice pass that was intercepted, Joe Corvo vacated his defensive post in front of the net and Tim Thomas ventured way out of his crease with no defensive support. That amount to an easy tap in for Pyatt that has the game tied after two periods.

3)Joe Corvo is in a pretty deep funk right now. Hes not making enough happen offensively and has been a leaking oil liability in his own end.

4)Pierre-Cedric Labrie running around with five hits in 2:43 of ice time through two periods, and hasnt been challenged to back away by any of the Bruins as of yet. Stay tuned in the third period.

5) Have to share the Jack Edwards tweet after Nathan Hortons second goal: Horton hears a hoo. Two. Has a clue. Would like to make it a few. Please do. You cant make that stuff up. By the way, love the 40 million renovations at the Tampa Bay Times Forum. The pipe organ theyve added really makes it feel like a hockey barn rather than a rink stuck in Florida.

TAMPA Here are five thoughts from the third period with the Bruins falling to the Tampa Bay Lightning by a 5-3 score after 60 minutes of play at the Tampa Bay Times Forum.

1)Tyler Seguin called for diving in the third period on a matching call with Steve Stamkos. Thats not the Bruins way, Tyler. You cant be diving. Not on this team.

2)Tim Thomas was flat beaten by the Dominic Moore shot in the third period for the game-winner. Not a great game for the Bs goalie with the Bruins defense very shaky in front of him.

3) Bruins definitely look like they could use the energy of Brad Marchand, dont they?

4)Daniel Paille doesnt cash in close to all of the breakaways hes given because of his speed, instincts and tenacity, but given enough chances hell figure it out as he did in the third period on a filthy roofed backhander.

5)How is this Lightning team as bad they are this season? Looks to me like they have everything they need to win hockey games based on one nights effort against the Bruins.

Nash scores a pair of goals in Bruins 2-1 win over Islanders

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Nash scores a pair of goals in Bruins 2-1 win over Islanders

BROOKLYN, NY – The Bruins knew they needed to find stellar performances somewhere in order to come out of a must-win game vs. the Islanders with two points, and they got exactly that.

Riley Nash had his best game as a member of the Bruins with a pair of goals scored in a 2-1 win over the Islanders at the Barclays Center that snapped a four game losing streak, and pushed them back into the wild card playoff spot.

It wasn’t a perfect game for the Black and Gold by any means and it was nip-and-tuck all the way, but it was important for the Bruins to show they could pull out those kinds of games late in the season.

Things didn’t look all that great early when John Tavares cut through the Bruins defense in the first period, and whistled a wrist shot from the high slot that went through Adam McQuaid’s legs before beating Anton Khudobin. The Bruins responded, however, on the very next shift with Nash stealing the puck from Scott Mayfield in the neutral zone, and beating Thomas Greiss short side for the important game-tying goal.

It looked like the Bruins had their go-ahead score in the first period on a second-effort power play goal by Frank Vatrano, but that was wiped out by a coach’s challenge that ruled David Backes interfered with Greiss in front of the New York net.

So the Bruins needed to wait until the third period when Boston’s fourth line stepped up and won the massively important game for Boston. Dominic Moore fed Riley Nash hustling into the offensive zone, and he weaved through the Islanders defense before snapping a shot past Greiss for his second goal of the game and his seventh on the season for the Bruins. 

NCAA TOURNAMENT: Gonzaga beats Xavier 83-59 to reach first Final Four

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NCAA TOURNAMENT: Gonzaga beats Xavier 83-59 to reach first Final Four

SAN JOSE, Calif. - Nigel Williams-Goss scored 23 points while orchestrating Gonzaga's efficient offense, and the Zags finally shook their overrated tag by routing Xavier 83-59 on Saturday to reach the Final Four for the first time.

Gonzaga (36-1) has been dogged by criticism through the years despite winning consistently, in part for playing in a weak conference but also for never making the Final Four.

On the cusp of history, the Zags took it head on with a superb all-around game to give coach Mark Few the one missing piece of his resume.

Gonzaga found the range from the perimeter after struggling the first three NCAA games, making 12 of 24 from 3-point range. The defense, a soft spot in the past, shut down the underdog and 11th-seeded Musketeers (24-14) to win the West Region.

The Zags will face the winner between South Carolina and Florida in next week's Final Four in Arizona.

J.P Macura led the Musketeers with 18 points.

The Musketeers brought their turn-the-page jar of ashes to the NCAA Tournament, where they burned through a string of upsets to reach their third Elite Eight and first since 2008. They beat Maryland, Florida State and took down No. 2 Arizona in the regional semifinals, setting up a matchup of small Jesuit schools seeking their first Final Four.

The Final Four was the only thing missing on Few's resume, which includes 18 straight NCAA Tournaments, eight trips to the Sweet 16 and a third Elite Eight after surviving West Virginia's constant pressure in the regional semifinals.

The Zags struggled to find an offensive rhythm against the Mountaineers - who doesn't? - but had it flowing against Xavier.

Gonzaga came into the Elite Eight hitting 29 percent of its 3-point shots after making 37 percent during the season. The Zags found the range early against Xavier, hitting 8 of 13 from the arc in the first half, mostly against the Musketeers' zone or on kick-outs from center Przemek Karnowski.

Xavier got off to a good start offensively by working the ball around, but hit a dry spell and made 1 of 5 from 3-point range as Gonzaga stretched to lead to 49-39 by halftime.

Halftime did little to slow the Zags, who pushed the lead to 59-42 on 3-pointers by Williams-Goss and Jordan Mathews. Gonzaga kept the machine rolling in the second half, continuing to make shots while its defense prevented the Musketeers from making any kind of run.