March 25, 2012

Thomas helps Bruins grab big two points in win over Kings

By Jesse Connolly

Final: Boston 4, Los Angeles 2

Recap: After a scoreless opening stanza, Patrice Bergeron followed up a bid by Brad Marchand and beat Jon Quick for a shorthanded strike, putting the Bruins ahead 1-0 with 5:18 gone in the second period. Boston had a number of glimmering chances to pad their lead but failed, then watched Drew Doughty set up Colin Fraser for the tying marker.

With 4:37 gone in the third, Milan Lucic scored on a perfectly-placed wrister from right at the faceoff dot and made it 2-1. A tip-in by Chris Kelly 1:19 later upped Boston’s edge to two.

The Bruins weren’t in the clear, however, as Slava Voynov’s seventh of the season made it a one-goal game. L.A. came dangerously close to tying things up, but the B’s were able to clear the puck in the closing seconds. With two-tenths of a second remaining, Brad Marchand shot the puck into the empty net for his 25th of the season, sealing the deal on a nice rebound win for the B’s.

Records: Boston 43-28-3, 89 points; Los Angeles 37-26-12, 86 points

Key Play of the Game: The Kings’ last shot of the period – via Jeff Carter -- had disaster written all over it. With a huge crowd parked in front of Boston’s crease, Tim Thomas somehow saw the puck through traffic, kicked the puck out with his right pad and literally saved the day (or the night, depending on how particular you want to be).

Connolly’s Commendations: For what seemed like an eternity, simply nothing was going right for Thomas, but the reigning Vezina Trophy winger has been back to his old self in the last four games for Boston. Thomas stopped 41-of-43 on the night and has allowed just six goals in the last quartet of contests.

Someone help me out here. Is it 2012 or 2004? Judging by how Brian Rolston has managed to look younger, quicker and sharper every game of late, I’m not quite sure I know that answer. While the B’s may not have scored on the power play (0-for-1, for those wondering), No. 12 looked dynamite on the point for Claude Julien’s squad. Furthermore, his assist on Kelly’s goal (the game-winner) extended Rolston’s point streak to five games.

Brad Marchand also deserves a stick salute for his two-point night (one goal, one assist). No. 63 went through one mighty funk, but now has four points in his last four games. He led Boston with four shots on goal on Saturday night.

Omitting Chris Kelly from this section would probably be an injustice. The mild-mannered center deserves plenty of kudos for wailing on Trevor Lewis with roughly 10 solid right-handed jabs in a rare bout.

Connolly’s Critiques: While Bergeron and Marchand were buzzing, linemate Tyler Seguin had himself a pretty quiet evening. The young winger managed just one shot on goal, was the only player to finish with a negative plus-minus rating at minus-1 and made a few gaffes in his own zone that could’ve cost the B’s.

Notes: In the 1,000th NHL game of his career, Chara was named first star in the win. Joe Corvo was a healthy scratch for the fourth-straight game, a stretch in which Boston has gone 3-1-0.

Final Thoughts: If you read the “0-for-California” piece earlier, or you just have common sense, it was extremely apparent the Bruins had to find a way to get points in L.A. and/or Anaheim. Boston’s victory over a desperate Kings club was huge.

Next: The B’s will be back in action on Sunday night when they take on the Ducks.