BOSTON — Tied 2-2 at the 12:31 mark of the third period, Bruins forward Michael Ryder gathered the puck and had a breakaway attempt on Thrashers goalie Ondrej Pavelec. In a last-ditch effort, Atlanta defenseman Johnny Oduya hooked Ryder who was unable to get a clear shot on Pavelec.
However, Ryder drew a penalty shot on the play and got a second attempt on Pavelec.
As he skated towards Pavelec, Ryder made a similar move seen in Thursday’s shootout where he tried to go high glove side on Leafs goalie James Reimer, but missed just wide in the Bruins’ 4-3 shootout loss. Going into that game, the Black and Gold could have clinched the Northeast Divsion and home ice advantage for the first round with two points. They only got one point instead after Reimer stoned Rich Peverley on the final attempt.
But in a matinee contest Saturday, the Bruins had a second chance to clinch the division, and Ryder had a chance to redeem himself. This time, Ryder capitalized and went top shelf on Pavelec to secure the game-winner and the Northeast Division in front of 17,565 at TD Garden.
“I was excited to get the goal since I was tired going into the penalty shot. It was a big goal for us,” said Ryder, who scored his first goal since February 27th against Edmonton. “It was important to get the win today. We’ve had better games, but we got the two points and that’s the main thing.”
With new additions like Nathan Horton, Gregory Campbell and Tyler Seguin, the Bruins were expected to at least win the Northeast Division going into the 2010-11 season. Those expectations were raised a little bit with the acquisitions of Peverley, Tomas Kaberle, and Chris Kelly at the trade deadline, and anything less than a Stanley Cup could be considered a disappointment to some.
But for now, the Bruins at least met some of those expectations, and a lot remains to be seen. But for now, they’ve built a little bit of momentum heading into the Stanley Cup playoffs.
“Well, it’s what a lot of teams battle for, so I’m glad that that’s out of the way,” said Bruins head coach Claude Julien. “We just have to keep playing and playing to win our next games and see where we end up.”
“It’s always a goal when you come into the season to win your division and we did just that,” Ryder added.
Currently, the Bruins are two points behind the Washington Capitals and three points behind the Philadelphia Flyers, who right now are in second and first in the Eastern Conference, respectively. Later tonight, the Capitals will face the Buffalo Sabres, who could possibly be one of the Bruins’ opponents in the first round.
With four games left in the 2010-11 regular season, the Bruins could potentially move up into the standings. But whether that happens or not, the Black and Gold are still looking for a little bit of momentum in the last four games against the Rangers (another potential playoff opponent), Islanders, Senators and Devils.
“We still have a few games left right now and maybe we can move up even further,” Ryder said. “That’s what we have to look for, and make sure we get our game ready to go for the playoffs.”
- The last time the Bruins scored on a penalty shot was back in January of 2007 when former Bruin Marco Sturm scored on then Ottawa Senators goalie Ray Emery. Before that even, the last time the Bruins scored on a penalty shot at home was all the way back in March of 1994 in the old Boston Garden when Ray Bourque scored on former Devils goalie and Providence College standout, Chris Terreri.
-Brad Marchand is this year’s recipient of the “7th Player Award” which is given to a member of the Bruins who surpasses expectations. Marchand, who has 41 points on the season (21 goals, 20 assists) tallied an assist on Mark Recchi’s first period goal.
-In his first game of the season, defenseman “Sheriff” Shane Hnidy tallied 13:53 of ice time.
-The Bruins become just the second team this season to clinch a division title. The Presidents’ Trophy winning Vancouver Canucks were the first team to accomplish that feat last month.