Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Game 58: The Prodigal Sons Have Returned

Welcome back, fans of the Boston Bruins. 

The NHL has fully resumed and there is no bigger fan base that has been eager for this day than the Black and Gold of Boston. Although it was an exciting Olympics to watch, especially the men's hockey tournament, the elite showcase is hockey at the NHL level. With that being said, a congratulations is in order to Patrice Bergeron and the Canadian national team for their gold-medal performance. Loui Eriksson (Sweden) took home the silver medal. 

We all can assume that the friendly competition will be duly noted, but there is nothing wrong with that omnipresent "jealousy" among teammates. Heck, it gives them something to play for. 

The five Bruins that returned back from Sochi earlier in the week looked forward to practicing with their old teammates again in preparation for Wednesday night's game against the Buffalo Sabres. The final 25-game stretch will be tough, but the team was eager to get back to their normal regimen. 

This was the final game in the month of February for the team, which just so happened to be only their fifth game of the month. It really is funny how that works, but nonetheless. The B's will endure a grueling March schedule, featuring a plethora of road games and some matchups against stiff competition. They looked to continue their momentum that they acquired before the break against a team that they have somewhat struggled against so far this season.

Chad Johnson was in goal for the Bruins on this night while Niklas Svedberg served as the backup. Tuukka Rask (who did not make the trip to Buffalo) struggled at times for Finland early in the Olympics, but finished strong with gutsy performances, both in the knockout round and the medal round. He and his country blanked the USA to take home the bronze medal. He assured himself that he would have a bounce-back second half of the season to ensure pseudo-playoff form. 

In the first period, the Bruins did not get off to the most auspicious start. The passes were not crisp and the physical play on their end was just not present. They fell behind early, but Chris Kelly tied the game later in the period. That was when the B's started to disintegrate.  

As the game went on, the Bruins were on the receiving end of some questionable penalties. The Sabres capitalized on the calls, plus some of the Boston miscues. However, the B's found some fight left in them and turned the game around. With goals from Zdeno Chara and Brad Marchand, the game was tied 3-3 after two periods.

The third period started off rather conservatively by both teams, neither side wanting to make a mistake. A double-minor penalty and an extended power play opportunity later, the Bruins grabbed the lead for the first time in the game on a goal by Milan Lucic. However, Matt Moulson (BUF) grabbed the tying goal with the goalie pulled to send this game into overtime. 

Just seconds into overtime, Matt D'Agostini (BUF) beat Chara in a chase for the puck and stuck it past Johnson. Once left for dead, the Sabres came back and won this game by a final score of 5-4. Five goals allowed by Johnson? Not a great night at all. 

The Bruins will play their next game on Saturday afternoon against the Washington Capitals, their first meeting of the season. What a way to kick off the month of March for the B's!

Gold Star: Chris Kelly...The two-week break was much needed for a player like him. He seemed relaxed and rejuvenated, contributing at both ends of the ice. 

Black Star: Jarome Iginla...He did not see as much ice time as he would have liked, due to the numerous amount of penalties that his team had to kill early on. When he was out there, he finished with a minus-three rating.

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