BOSTON – With a playoff spot wrapped up and the Northeast Division crown seemingly in reach (seven points ahead of Montreal going into the night), the Bruins were looking to keep their foot on the gas pedal with the defending Stanley Cup Champion Chicago Blackhawks in town.
By the end of the night, the Bruins got a complete 60-minute effort; resulting in a 3-0 win in front of another sellout crowd of 17,565 at the TD Garden.
“That was the thing we talked about before the game and at practice yesterday too,” said forward Patrice Bergeron, who tallied one assist on the night. “We didn’t want to set ourselves in a comfort zone like we did a month ago, or three weeks ago. There’s still some big points up for grabs here. We haven’t wrapped up the division yet…and we know that there’s six games left. Playoffs are coming up and it’s important to keep the tempo going and make sure we’re ready [for the postseason].”
Coming off a huge win against the Detroit Red Wings Monday night, the Blackhawks came into Tuesday’s games in eighth place in the West with a three-point lead on the Flames and a four-point lead over the Stars.
The Black and Gold were able to match the Blackhawks desperation and came away with two points.
“It doesn’t matter if you clinch. You still have to play desperate hockey. And especially the teams we are facing are playing for their playoff spots,” said Bruins’ captain Zdeno Chara, who scored his 14th goal of the season at 12:02 of the second period to open the scoring.
“If you don’t match it and if you don’t play the way you’re supposed to then you’re going to get embarrassed and that’s not what we want. For us, it’s the same thing. We want to get ready for the playoffs and improve our game.”
“Chicago’s a really good team, they’ve got a lot of fire power,” added Johnny Boychuk, who fired home his third goal of the year exactly 2:20 after Chara’s tally. “We knew they played last night and we wanted to take the game and run with it.”
There’s no question Corey Crawford did all he could to help the Blackhawks overcome a first period where the Bruins held a 12-5 shots on goal advantage. The first year netminder made several quality stops; including one where he stoned Brad Marchand on a breakaway.
The Blackhawks also had their chances to get some momentum as well on their two power plays in the first and second periods. However, Tim Thomas — who earned his ninth shutout of the year with his 32-saves perfomance — and the Bruins held strong in both instances holding Chicago to just four shots in its chances with the man-advantage.
After all the hard work, the Bruins were finally awarded with goals from Chara and Boychuk, while Nathan Horton sealed the victory with his 24th of the season at the 5:20 mark of the final stanza.
“This was a good challenge for us. Chicago is a team battling for a playoff spot in the Western Conference,” said Thomas. “But that’s a good thing because you know they’re going to bring their ‘A’ game, because those points mean a lot to them. It was a big test and responded well.”
-After tallying an assist on Boychuk’s goal, Recchi surpassed Paul Coffey for 12th place on the all-time scoring list with career point No. 1,532. Recchi’s tallied his first point back on January 20, 1989, where he and Coffey were teammates for the Pittsburgh Penguins.
“It’s great. It comes in another big win for us and it makes it much more sweeter,” Recchi said about the milestone.
-Shawn Thornton left the game after taking a skate in the forehead during the second period. Fortunately for Thornton, he didn’t suffer a severe injury, but did have several stitches above his eye.
“I am fine. I guess I was lucky,” he said. “It could have been on the eye. No headache, no concussion, no nothing. It was just throbbing a little bit from getting stitches but nothing bad.”