Tim Thomas, Bruins Battle Hard, But Fall to Penguins 2-1

Tim Thomas, Bruins Battle Hard, But Fall to Penguins 2-1 The Boston Bruins dropped Sunday's matinee game against the Pittsburgh Penguins by a 2-1 score that throws even more doubt into Boston's playoff picture.

The B's jumped off to a good start, as Blake Wheeler netted the first goal of the game with 16:22 left in the second period. A tremendous performance by goalie Tim Thomas was upset in the final minutes of the period as Pascal Dupuis slapped a wrap-around goal past the netminder.

To kick off the third period, Evgeni Malkin got off a soft shot that just snuck by a shielded Thomas. The Penguins held on to advance to 40-22-4, picking up ground on the Washington Capitals.

Marc Savard took a nasty hit with 5:37 remaining in the third period. The Bruin took a slap shot from the high slot then took an elbow to the head from Matt Cooke, immediately crumpling to the ice. There was a scrum between opposing players at the far boards, but Savard lay on his stomach, motionless. A backboard was brought on the ice and Savard was hoisted away.

Given that Savard is one of Boston's top lamplighters, this could be a devastating blow to the Bruins' postseason chances. Of course, more important at this moment is the health of Savard, so keep your computer screen here at NESN.com for the latest on the injury.

The Bruins fall to 29-24-11 and now have to wait for Philadelphia and Montreal to finish their games tonight before they know their current playoff situation. If both win, the Bruins will slip to the eighth seed behind the Canadiens while the Flyers will solidify their hold on the sixth spot.

Penguins 2, Bruins 1
Mellon Arena, Pittsburgh, Pa.
March 7, 2010

Live Blog | Box Score | Recap

Headliner: It's not often the losing team's goalie gets an award meant to heap
praise. However, Tim Thomas is deserving of the award despite letting a
soft shot get by him to provide the winning margin.

Pittsburgh, behind Sidney
Crosby
and Malkin, brought the pressure hard and fast but Thomas
hung tough. Thomas made several great saves, the sole reason why the game
was as close as it was. Thomas finished the game with 31 saves on 33 shots. Overall, there was nothing separating his performance from his
previous two games — Thomas is heating up just in time.

Grinder: Left wing Chris Kunitz paced all Penguins in shots on goal with six, doing what he could to try to extend the lead. Unfortunately for the former Anaheim Duck, none of his shots went in. Kunitz is a month removed from returning from surgery to repair a torn abdominal muscle. As one of Pittsburgh's top playmakers, his return has been very welcome to the Penguins.

Weak Link: Maybe GM Peter Chiarelli is right that the price was too high at the trading deadline to acquire a goalscorer.

It doesn't make the game any less frustrating, as the Bruins attempted a scant 21 shots on goal and were limited to just three in the first period. Pittsburgh gave Boston as many chances as it could, racking up a total of 10 minutes in penalties, but nothing helped. In this game, there was no weak link in the chain — it was the whole chain.

Key Moment: While not impacting the score or the momentum of the game, things were decidedly muted following the Savard injury, and it's what people will remember from the game. The injury was painful to watch, and while Cooke may not have meant any harm — much like Michael Ryder probably didn't intend to harm anyone with his hit on Saturday — you have to wonder if the NHL will crack down on Cooke at the tail end of a week dominated by several devastating hits.

Up Next: Facing Pittsburgh was no cakewalk, but the Bruins aren't done with perhaps their most grueling stretch of the entire year. The club is heading to Toronto for a 7 p.m. affair with the Maple Leafs on Tuesday, March 9, the third game of a seven-game road trip. No Bruins fan nor player needs reminding that Phil Kessel now wears blue and white. He is second on the Leafs in points behind Tomas Kaberle.

It will be the fifth matchup between the teams. The Bruins are 3-1 against the Maple Leafs on the season and last did battle March 4, winning 3-2. The Maple Leafs are in last place in the Eastern Conference with a
20-32-12 record.

Tuukka Rask is expected to dress for the game, but it's entirely possible he takes a seat on the bench if the Bruins choose to ride the hot hand — the very concept that got Rask into the net in the first place.

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