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Thomas, Bruins Shut Out Blackhawks (And Their Playoff Hopes)

Mark Recchi celebrates with Patrice Bergeron after Recchi scored his 1,532nd career point with an assist on teammate Johnny Boychuk's goal in the second period. Recchi moved into 12th all-time in career points with the assist.(Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)

Some times it’s just nice to play spoiler. The Boston Bruins worked on doing that Tuesday night as they matched up against the Chicago Blackhawks. While the Bruins already secured it’s playoff spot, the Blackhawks needed a win to help them stay afloat in the race for eighth place in the Western Conference. Chicago is currently three points ahead of Calgary for the final spot, but with the Bruins coming away with the 3-0 victory, it’s going to be hard for the Blackhawks to remain in contention.

The loss dropped the defending Stanley Cup champs to 41-27-8 (90 points) on the year. If Chicago is able to make it into the playoffs, the team might still have a strong chance of making some noise in the West.

With the win, the Bruins improved to 43-23-10 on the year, good for 96 points. The B’s now have an even stronger hold of the division over Montreal, as Boston is ahead by seven points.

Coming into the game, Bruins’ head coach Claude Julien knew that Chicago needed this game more than Boston but that didn’t stop them from trying (and winning).

“(Chicago is) a desperate team,” Julien told the Bruins’ official website. “Those kind of games should be helpful for us to stay on top of ours and realize that if you are not ready for games like that you can get embarrassed pretty easily.”

Well the Bruins didn’t get embarassed so much as did the Blackhawks and that’s due in large part from Tim Thomas’s play. Thomas started in goal for the Bruins and had a very strong night. He stopped all 32 shots-on-goal en route to his 33rd win of the season and ninth shutout. Thomas is now 33-10-8 on the year and makes a strong case for his second career Vezina Trophy for the best goalie in the league. He has now won four straight games after losing four in a row (0-2-2).

Corey Crawford was in net for the Blackhawks and turned in a solid effort but it just wasn’t good enough. He stopped 31-of-34 shots on goal but saw his record fall to 30-16-5 on the year. Since winning eight consecutive games at the end of February and into March, Crawford has cooled off as of late. He is 4-4-2 since reeling off those eight wins in a row.

First Period

  • No scoring.
  • Shots on goal: Boston 12, Chicago 5

Second Period

  • Finally someone gets on the board. It only took midway into the second period for Zdeno Chara to net his 14th goal of the year to put Boston on top. Chara was assisted by Patrice Bergeron and Brad Marchand on the goal. Bruins up 1-0
  • Two minutes later…..Johnny Boychuk adds a goal of his own. Boychuk’s third goal of the year was assisted by Mark Recchi and Milan Lucic. Bruins up 2-0
  • Shots on goal: Boston 18, Chicago 12

Third Period

  • Just over five minutes into the third and Nathan Horton gives the Bruins a little more breathing room. Horton added his 24th goal of the year on assists from Daniel Paille and Gregory Campbell. Bruins up 3-0
  • Shots on goal: Boston 4, Chicago 15

Up Next

The Bruins will have Wednesday to rest up as they take on the Toronto Maple Leafs on Thursday night at home. Thursday’s meeting will be the sixth and final time the two teams match up this season. So far the Bruins are 2-2-1 against the team from Canada, with the last two games resulting in losses. In both losses, Thomas struggled as he let up four goals each game. Maybe Tuukka Rask will start in goal Thursday? Toronto has been struggling this season and it looks like it will miss the playoffs this year as the team is currently seven points back of eighth place.

Game Notes

  • Recchi’s assist gave him 1,532 career NHL points, moving him into 12th all-time, ahead of Paul Coffey.
  • Michael Ryder and Steve Kampfer were both scratched from the game.
  • Neither team was successful on the power play. Boston didn’t have an opportunity while Chicago went 0-for-2.
  • The Blackhawks out-hit the Bruins 23-to-27 and won the faceoff battle 33-to-31.
  • Boston did a good job in stealing the puck as the team had six takeaways to Chicago’s four.

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