Final: Boston 2, Tampa Bay 0
Recap: The Bruins' start to the game didn't look good on the ice or on paper, as the Bolts outshot them 9-4 in the opening 20 minutes. The lone bright spot was a spirited fight between Andrew Ference and former B's winger Benoit Pouliot.
In the second, Tyler Seguin hit Brad Marchand with a breakout pass. No. 63 carried it into the zone and dropped it back to Dennis Seidenberg, who fired home his third goal of the season to make it 1-0 Boston. With 6:29 to go in the frame, Greg Campbell zipped a pass over to Dan Paille for a wrister that beat Anders Lindback to make it 2-0.
Tuukka Rask stopped all 12 shots he faced in the third period to pick up the shutout.
Records: Boston 28-13-5, 61 points; Tampa Bay 18-25-4, 40 points
Key Play of the Game: When Tuukka Rask rummaged through his closet and rediscovered his "A" game before tonight's tilt. The Finnish netminder was razor sharp tonight, had solid rebound control, sound positioning and flat-out robbed a number of Bolts on shots that should've found twine. That's the Rask the Bruins need if they want to do some damage in the postseason.
Connolly's Commendations: (What I just said about Rask probably should've gone here.)
Congratulations to Dougie Hamilton on winning the 7th Player Award, but the guy that should've taken home some hardware -- OK, I don't know if they actually take anything home or not -- scored the B's insurance marker tonight: Paille. No. 20 fits the "exceeding expectations" criteria better than any other Bruin this season with 10 goals, as a fourth liner, through 44 games. It's a shame fans, who actually vote for the winner, have missed the mark two years in a row (should've been Chris Kelly over Tyler Seguin last season).
I didn't see a whole lot to jump up and down about it in his first two games back after being scratched, but Milan Lucic looked a lot more like his old self this evening. The bruising winger had a game-high four hits, a couple nice set-ups and a helluva bout with Keith Aulie, who probably regretted dropping the gloves the moment Lucic's first right-handed jab connected with his skull.
Connolly's Critiques: In the words of Elmer Fudd, Jaromir Jagr was vewwy, vewwy quiet tonight. Not a whole lot going for that line in this one, which saw Jagr and Chris Kelly each get held without a shot. Carl Soderberg was the only member of the trio to put a puck on goal.
Notes: The Canadiens also won this evening, meaing the two teams are knotted up at 61 points apiece, with Boston owning the tiebreaker due to less games played. Marchand now has 23 points on home ice, compared to 13 on the road.
Final Thoughts: It wasn't always perfect, but the Bruins showed some passion on a more consistent basis tonight than they have in what feels like eons. They shutout a team that put a five-spot up last night and got a desperately-needed victory after a comically-bad loss down in Philly.
Next: The Bruins will travel to Washington to take on the Capitals on Saturday.