Division leaders face off as Bruins battle Stars
Wednesday, 02.02.2011 / 6:09 PM
NHL.comSTARS (30-16-5) at BRUINS (29-15-7)
TV: FS-SW (HD), NESN (HD)
Dallas 6-3-1; Boston 7-3-0
This is the first and only meeting this season between these teams, both of whom currently lead their respective divisions. They last played each other almost 16 months ago, on Oct. 16, 2009. In that game, Marc Savard scored twice and Tim Thomas made 27 saves in a 3-0 Bruins win.
Following Sunday’s All-Star Game, both teams returned to regular-season play on Tuesday. In a 4-1 home loss to conference-leading Vancouver, the Stars' special teams failed them mightily, as the Canucks scored twice on the power play and once shorthanded.
In a matchup against fellow All-Star backstop Cam Ward, Thomas made 24 stops, leading the Bruins to a 3-2 win in Carolina. Another All Star, defenseman Zdeno Chara, led the Bruins' offensive charge with 2 assists and a team-high eight shots.
The loss to Vancouver was the Stars' third in the last 33 days against the Canucks, dropping their record to 1-3-0 in their last four games. After allowing the two Vancouver power-play goals, Dallas has now successfully killed just seven of its last 14 penalties over that span.
"We were in the game there, but the shorthanded goal, it's tough to swallow," forward Brad Richards
said. "It wasn't like we were out of position, we had our position. It's just one of those things."
The win in Carolina gave the Bruins an 8-3-0 record in their last 11 games. Celebrating his 43rd birthday on Tuesday, Mark Recchi earned an assist on Patrice Bergeron's game-winner and continued to inch up the NHL's all-time scoring list, where he currently ranks 13th with 1,518 career points.
As he has most of this season, Thomas led the way for the Bruins. After improving his season record to 25-5-6, the Vezina-Trophy front-runner left the Hurricanes at a loss for words.
"You can't figure out how he's getting it done, but he's been getting it done all year long," Hurricanes coach Paul Maurice said. "You can't describe it, but you can certainly appreciate how good he's been."
With an assist against Vancouver, Richards now has 16 points in his last 12 games. Dallas teammate Mike Ribeiro
recently saw his 11-game scoring streak end but still has 17 points in his last 14 games. … Continuing the hot play that earned him the League's first star for January, Bergeron has 5 points in his last four games for Boston. David Krejci has 4 points [all assists] in his last four games.
For the Stars, forwards Jamie Benn
and Tom Wandell
are both out this week with upper-body injuries while defenseman Mark Fistric
is questionable against Boston with an illness. Center Toby Petersen
(lower body) is on IR. … Other than Savard, who is out indefinitely with a concussion, the Bruins are healthy.
The Stars have absolutely feasted on the Eastern Conference this season, going 11-2-1 compared to 19-14-4 against the West. Boston, on the other hand, has gone 2-4-2 against the Western Conference this season. They'll want to improve that record, as seven of their remaining 11 February games will be against Western-Conference teams.
Few coaches in the NHL share as common a history as the Bruins' Claude Julien and the Stars' Marc Crawford. They were born 10 months apart in Ontario and played together for five seasons with the Fredericton Express of the American Hockey League. In their final season together in Fredericton, they lost the Calder Cup Final to Hershey before embarking on coaching careers that has seen them both earn the Jack Adams Trophy.