Bruins 5 Flames 0
BOSTON — A pre-game visit from injured playmaker Marc Savard may have helped awaken the Boston Bruins’ dormant power play.
The Bruins scored on their first three chances with the advantage Saturday en route to a 5-0 victory over the Calgary Flames.
Boston has been in an 0-for-22 drought and 1-for-24 since Savard sustained a Grade 2 concussion on March 7 on a hit by Pittsburgh’s Matt Cooke, likely knocking him out for the season.
Savard, who saw his teammates for the first time and met the media along with general manager Peter Chiarelli before the game, had already left the TD Garden before Dennis Seidenberg, David Krejci and Zdeno Chara connected on the power play in the first 26:15 of the game.
“It was good to see him,” said Patrice Bergeron, who himself dealt with a serious concussion in 2007 and has been advising his teammate through this tough time. “Just happy to see him doing little better but still you can tell he’s going through some tough times. We’re all behind him. We’re all supporting him. I just want him to stay patient and stay positive. Obviously, it’s hard for him to do that. I feel for him and I’m behind him 100 per cent.”
The Bruins came into the game 7-for-82 on the power play during Savard’s three injury absences this season. Those problems disappeared Saturday.
“It felt actually good,” said Krejci, who also set up Chara’s goal. “Our PP was struggling. Today, I think we came out pretty strong. To get three important goals, I feel pretty happy about that.”
Tim Thomas, making his first start in six games, stopped 31 shots for his first shutout since Dec. 21.
“I didn’t really know what to expect but the team came out so strong in front of me and did a really good job of making me feel comfortable and that helped a lot,” said Thomas, who was lauded by coach Claude Julien for his “mental toughness” for coming back strong after being on the bench.
The victory, which moved the Bruins into a tie with Philadelphia for seventh in the Eastern Conference, was just the third in the last 15 home games for Boston. Calgary, in ninth place in the West, moved a step closer to playoff elimination, leaving the game still six points behind both Colorado and Detroit.
The Flames’ loss got the surprising Phoenix Coyotes into the post-season for the first time since 2002.
Seidenberg, scoring his first goal as a Bruin, and Krejci both beat Miikka Kiprusoff with slap shots, and Chara took a pass from Krejci and walked down the slot and beat Kiprusoff with a wrist shot.
Thomas, the defending Vezina Trophy winner who has lost his No. 1 job to rookie Tuukka Rask, won for the first time in his last four starts.
The Flyers, who lost 4-1 at Pittsburgh on Saturday, are ahead of Boston in the win column, but the Bruins, four points ahead of ninth-place Atlanta, have a game in hand. Sixth-place Montreal was two points ahead of both entering Saturday night’s game against New Jersey.
The Flames, meanwhile, know what they are up against.
“We have to run the table now,” said Jarome Iginla. “Other teams have done it in the past, run the table near the end. We need to put together five or six wins. It’s literally all Game 7’s for us now.”
Five different Bruins had two points apiece, including Krejci, who has had at least two points in each of the last three games and six of the last nine.
The Bruins scored their most goals in a home game since a 6-4 win over Atlanta Dec. 23.
Thomas notched his fifth shutout of the season. A potential threat to the shutout came in the third period when Boston’s Johnny Boychuk received a five-minute major and game misconduct for elbowing, but the Flames managed just three shots on goal during the long power play.
Seidenberg, who had seven assists in 12 games since the Bruins acquired him from Florida, broke a scoreless tie at 14:08 of the first period. Krejci and Chara then struck 4:46 apart early in the second.
Bergeron set up Mark Recchi’s goal and scored one of his own as the Bruins chased Kiprusoff in the third period.
NOTES: Boston’s Marco Sturm had an assist for his first point in eight games. … The Bruins host Buffalo on Monday night and then visit New Jersey on Tuesday, with both teams potential first-round playoff opponents. … D Andrew Ference, who has been in and out of the lineup with groin problems, was out with the same problem again, while Matt Hunwick, a healthy scratch the past three games, returned. … The Flames have lost the first two games of a crucial three-game road trip that ends in Washington on Sunday. … Calgary D Jay Bouwmeester played in his 417th straight game, the longest-active streak in the NHL.