March 4, 2011

B's silence Bolts big guns in battle between division leaders

by Jesse Connolly

Bruins winger Milan Lucic. (Getty)

BOSTON -- Over the course of their six-game road trip, the Boston Bruins proved themselves against all kinds.

 They overcame the cream of the crop in the West. They took care of business against the league's cellar dwellers. On Thursday night at TD Garden, they beat one of the beasts of the East.

 "With our new team, that is what we kind of want to happen with the playoff run," winger Brad Marchand said after Boston's 2-1 win over the Lightning. 

 "We want to get together and focus on a game plan every night. That is what we have been able to do. I think that is why we are winning. We set a game plan in place. We try to keep it simple in our own end. So far it has worked. We just have to keep it going."

 With a victory over the leaders of the Southeast Division, the Bruins grabbed sole possession of second place in the conference.

 After being burned by the Bolts top guns in the first three games of their season series, victims of the dynamic duo of Steven Stamkos and Martin St. Louis, Boston completely shut down Tampa's go-to goal scorers.

 "Yeah well we know them a bit, we’ve beat them a couple times in the past," said Marchand. We tried to get their system figured out tonight. I think they played a little better, they were more defensively sound. They didn’t give us a ton, but they’re a good team over there.

 "There’s a reason they’re in second place, and they’ve got a lot of scoring power. We did a great job of shutting them down tonight. That’s kudos to the goalie and the D, and you know if forwards  are coming back there, it’s a good game for us."

 Defenseman Dennis Seidenberg believes the fact that the Bruins ramped up their hitting game was a big key to their success.

 "They are a hard working team," Seidenberg said of the Lightning. "You have to be physical against those kind of guys there. They are not overly physical but they work really hard. There was some scrums and that is what happens when the puck is there, just battle and that’s it."

Seidenberg helped the Black and Gold survive their toughest test in the second period, as Tampa Bay had a full two-minute, 5-on-3 power play but failed to score.

 "(Both) 'Z' (Zdeno Chara) and 'Boych' (Johnny Boychuk) did a great job just holding their positions and they weren’t giving them any lanes to get a good shot off," Seidenberg said of his fellow blueliners' efforts on the penalty kill.

 Bruins coach Claude Julien thought killing off the extended, two-man disadvantage was crucial.

 "I think that was the turning point right there," the coach said. "Our guys did an outstanding job on that five-on-three where our guys didn’t give them much."

 Thanks to their outstanding effort, not just within those two minutes but throughout the entire 60 minutes of the contest, Boston has now strung together seven-straight victories.

 "We knew coming into this game it was a fight for that second spot in the conference," said Milan Lucic, who scored the game-winning goal in the final minutes of regulation.

 "We knew they played last night, a hard fought game against New Jersey, and we didn’t. So we wanted to make sure we came out and gave everything we had. We’re having a lot of fun right now, we’re creating a lot and we've just got to keep pushing for more."