Live Blog: Thrashers at Bruins

Live Blog: Thrashers at Bruins Final, Bruins 6-4: Patrice Bergeron just sealed the deal with an empty-netter with 3.7 seconds left in regulation, but chances are that head coach Claude Julien isn't going to be celebrating this 6-4 win as much as he would most wins.

The Bruins twice led by three goals and twice allowed the Thrashers back into the game. Yes, Boston held off Atlanta both times, but this is not the type of game the defensive-minded Julien likes and wants from his team. The B's struggled with an offensive juggernaut in Chicago and did so again tonight against Ilya Kovalchuk and the Thrashers.

On the bright side, they did come through with a win and get a huge two points in the standings. Zdeno Chara and Marc Savard, two of the players they count on in big games, came through with big nights, and that's a good sign. The power play was also clicking, going 3-for-5.

Going forward, expect to hear Julien preach balance, as it seems that when the offense gets going, the defense loses focus, and vice-versa. Also, Tim Thomas struggled after such a strong performance in Ottawa. So the bottom line is that this team needs consistency all around and they've yet to find it. Maybe Santa Claus will leave it under a tree here at the TD Garden? Who knows? But it needs to come soon.

Thanks for following us here at our Bruins Live Blog and Merry Christmas!

Third period, 4:52, Bruins 5-4: Time for Claude Julien to call a timeout as the Bruins are on the verge of blowing a three-goal lead in the third period. Ilya Kovalchuk broke in alone and beat Tim Thomas for his 21st of the season.

Folks, just want to point out that only one Bruin is in double-digits in goals. Peter Chiarelli needs to do whatever it takes to get Kovalchuk!

Third period, 6:02, Bruins 5-3: The Bruins were getting a bit comfy with a three-goal lead again and the Thrashers took advantage. Rookie Evander Kane has made it a two-goal game again with his ninth of the season.

Kane is a Calder Trophy candidate for Rookie of the Year, and yours truly had the pleasure of interviewing him earlier today. I can tell you that he is years beyond his age (18). A poised and talented youngster and future star in this league.

Third period, 10:28, Bruins 5-2: The Bruins' power play just keeps clicking as Michael Ryder just scored another on the man-advantage.They're 3-for-5 tonight.

Patrice Bergeron and Marc Savard had the helpers.

Third period, 11:43, Bruins 4-2: Maxim Afinogenov just got called for slashing and the Bruins are on their fourth power play. They will be 4-on-3 for two seconds and 5-on-3 for 35 seconds.

Third period, 12:26, Bruins 4-2: Adam McQuaid is in the sin bin, and the Thrashers were about to go on their fourth power play, but Ilya Kovalchuk got called for tripping and the power play was nullified.

That's one of McQuaid's few mistakes since playing his first NHL game in Toronto on Saturday. Of course, in that game, he accidentally deflected a shot in the net past Tim Thomas while trying to block the shot, but in general, he has played a smart and simple game.

Third period, 17:47, Bruins 4-2: There has been a change on the assists for Zdeno Chara's second-period goal. Dennis Wideman had the secondary assist, not Patrice Bergeron.

Third period, 19:23, Bruins 4-2: Underway here in the final period in front of another sellout crowd at the TD Garden.

End of second period, Bruins 4-2: After five goals in the first period, we saw only one in the second, a Zdeno Chara power play goal, and the Bruins now have a two-goal lead headed into the final frame here at TD Garden.

The Bruins calmed things down a bit and did a good job of clogging up the neutral zone and the path to the net. They will need to continue to do so in the third as the Thrashers will look to lay an onslaught of shots on them to get back into the game.

It has to be nice for Claude Julien to see his big guns starting to factor in on the score sheet. Both Marc Savard and Zdeno Chara have a goal and an assist tonight, and usually when players like them start to score, the others will follow suit.

Second period, 7:11, Bruins 4-2: Steve Begin is in the sin bin and the Thrashers are headed onto their second power play. They're 0-for-2 tonight against the NHL's top-rated penalty kill.

Second period, 12:55, Bruins 4-2: Again, offensively there is a lot to be happy about tonight. The power play is clicking and the Bruins are creating chances. But they need to tighten up defensively.

Second period, 17:46, Bruins 4-2: Zdeno Chara just gave the Bruins another two-goal lead and their second power-play goal.

Marc Savard and Patrice Bergeron had the helpers. Savard and Chara both have a goal and an assist and the Bruins are 2-for-3 on the power play. This is one of their better nights on the man advantage this season. They're cycling the puck well but not waiting for the perfect shot or opportunity and taking advantage of openings.

Second period, 19:17, Bruins 3-2: Former Bruin Marty Reasoner and Colby Armstrong are in the penalty box for Atlanta and the Bruins have a 5-on-3 power play to start the second period.

Armstrong was called for goalie interference, nullifying an Evander Kane game-tying goal that was waved off immediately by the referee.

End of first period, Bruins 3-2: Well, if you're a betting man or woman, I hope you bet the over in this one. There have only been 21 total shots so far, with the Thrashers outshooting the Bruins 11-10, but five goals scored in the opening frame, this is not the way Claude Julien wanted his squad to start.

The Bruins exploded for three goals in 1:08, and while that's a great sign that their offense may have found it's groove, the fact they let up two in less than three minutes isn't a good sign at all. The Thrashers are not the type of team you want to get into a run-and-gun game with. They have too many weapons with the likes of Ilya Kovalchuk and Maxim Afinogenov, both of whom factored in on the scoring already.

Tim Thomas started well, then seemed to fight the puck through the second half of the period. But he recovered somewhat with a nice glove save on Kovalchuk with 19 seconds left, helping the Bruins kill off another Thrashers power play.

Well, Rene Rencourt is singing Christmas Carols here, so we'll be back for the second period in a bit.

First period, 2:32, Bruins 3-2: Maybe we were wrong on Tim Thomas picking up where he left off Monday. Thomas just allowed another goal and suddenly it's a one-goal game.

Former Sabres forward Maxim Afinogenov scored to make it 3-2. Ilya Kovalchuk and Zach Bogosian assisted on the goal.

We may see four goalies in this game at the rate we're going here!

First period, 5:16, Bruins 3-1: The Thrashers just cut into the Bruins' lead as Bryan Little beat Tim Thomas on a goal he probably would like back.

First period, 9:08, Bruins 3-0: Vladimir Sobotka just joined in on the fun and it's 3-0 Bruins. That goal chased Thrashers goalie Ondrej Pavelec and Johan Hedberg is now between the pipes now for Atlanta.

Steve Begin is in the penalty box for interference and the Thrashers are on their first power play.

First period, 10:16, Bruins 2-0: The Bruins just exploded for two goals in 48 seconds and are suddenly up 2-0.

Marc Savard scored the Bruins' first power play goal since Dec. 10 and then Daniel Paille made it 2-0. The Thrashers seem shell-shocked right now and a timeout may come soon.

First period, 14:59: Tim Thomas is picking up right where he left off last game. Thomas stopped Colby Armstrong on a breakaway after the Thrashers blocked a shot that then bounced the other way.

First period, 19:10: Tim Thomas just made a nice glove save and we're underway at the TD Garden.

6:50 p.m.: Almost ready for faceoff at TD Garden and there appears to be some reshuffling to the defensive pairings.

Claude Julien has moved Dennis Wideman up to the top pairing with captain Zdeno Chara. Here's what the defense should look like to start the game tonight:

Zdeno Chara–Dennis Wideman
Andrew Ference–Johnny Boychuk
Matt Hunwick–Adam McQuaid

Looking forward to a festive holiday atmosphere tonight!

4:25 p.m.: The Bruins (17-11-7, 41 points) are set to host the upstart Thrashers (18-13-4, 40 points) in a pivotal Eastern Conference match-up before the quick Holiday break.

The two teams will actually face each other a week from today, but right now they're focused on the task at hand — and that's gaining some valuable points in the tight Eastern Conference standings.

"They're a point behind us and if you want to stay ahead of them, you have to win that game," said head coach Claude Julien after the team's morning skate. "That is what the guys realize when it comes to the importance of the game and right now this time of year there are a lot of distractions, whether it's the Winter Classic or whether it's Christmas around the corner — when you are at home, it's always a little tougher. You are not in a hotel room, shutting it down. That in itself is going to be a challenge for us."

Julien also knows he's not facing the Thrashers teams of the past. This is a team that can score and has one of the most underrated defensive corps in the NHL.

"Well, they're definitely an offensive threat from their counters and from their tactical offensive zone plays that are a threat all the time," Julien said. "They have become better defensively. They're more stingy, they don't give you as much as they used to. Those glaring mistakes that used to cost them games are not there anymore."

Wednesday's skate was optional, so the lines (below) appear to be the same as they were in Ottawa on Monday. Also, Tim Thomas will get his second consecutive start after a 29-save shutout performance in Ottawa.

Be sure to check back here tonight for all the game action. Happy holidays!

Forwards
Steve Begin–Marc Savard–Marco Sturm
Daniel Paille–Patrice Bergeron–Mark Recchi
Blake Wheeler–David Krejci–Michael Ryder
Shawn Thornton–Vladimir Sobotka–Byron Bitz

Defensemen
Zdeno Chara–Johnny Boychuk
Andrew Ference–Dennis Wideman
Matt Hunwick–Adam McQuaid

Goaltenders
Tim Thomas
Tuukka Rask

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