- James Murphy, Bruins reporter, ESPNBoston.com
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The Bruins had their win streak snapped in Atlanta on Thursday with a 3-2 shootout loss, but they were able to keep their point streak alive (four straight) as they have taken five of a possible six points in the first three games of their five-game road trip.
Patrice Bergeron and Blake Wheeler scored in regulation for the Bruins, but in the shootout Wheeler and Tyler Seguin couldn’t beat Thrashers goalie Ondrej Pavelec (42 saves) while Bryan Little and Tim Stapleton scored on Tim Thomas, who made 30 saves in regulation and overtime.
The Bruins open 2011 with their fourth game of the trip Saturday at Buffalo.
A well-earned point. The Bruins' three-game win streak ended but not for lack of effort. After coming out a bit flat in the first five minutes, the Bruins played just as well as the Thrashers for the remainder of the opening period, then dominated the final two periods, outshooting Atlanta. The B's were outshot 5-2 in overtime.
Their biggest problem? Pavelec was a wall between the pipes. When a goalie is in the zone, there’s not much the opponent can do. The Bruins applied pressure throughout, and despite an amazing performance by Pavelec they still got a point.
Bergeron showing offensive side. Heading into the season, the Bruins and Patrice Bergeron expressed a mutual desire to see the Bruins center use more of his offensive skills and show just how good a two-way center he can be. Well, Bergeron has been doing just that of late. His first-period goal was his eighth of the season and third in his last six games. He has six points in that span and is showing that in addition to being one of the best defensive forwards in the NHL, he can also chip in on offense. Bergeron finished with three shots on net in 19:18 of ice time and created scoring chances throughout the game.
Big Wheels keeps on turning. Although Blake Wheeler came into the game without a goal since Dec. 18, that doesn’t mean he hasn’t been playing well. Wheeler has been one of the Bruins' best players over the past month, using his 6-foot-5, 205-pound frame to be a force on the forecheck and driving to the net. On Thursday it paid off on the scoreboard as Wheeler scored the Bruins' second goal 55 seconds into the second period. The big winger finished with five shots on net in 17:55 on ice. Wheeler is finally starting to realize his potential and it’s coming at a good time for the Bruins as some of their go-to scorers have been quiet recently.
Bad blood didn’t carry over. After a good old-fashioned donnybrook a week ago in the Bruins' 4-1 win at TD Garden, there was plenty of hype that this game could resemble a scene out of “Slapshot.” But as is the case in today’s NHL, there didn’t seem to be any carryover of bad blood. With the exception of a minor scuffle between Daniel Paille and Dustin Byfuglien, and Tim Stapleton bumping into Tim Thomas in the second period, there wasn’t any rough stuff. Instead the teams entertained the fans with some good end-to-end play.
Horton’s struggles continue. After starting the season with six goals in his first 10 games as a Bruin, streaky Nathan Horton has been the wrong kind of streak in December. Horton entered Thursday’s game with no goals in his last seven games and was benched for a good portion of the third period of the Bruins’ 4-3 win at Tampa Bay on Tuesday.
On Thursday, the winger struggled again, and with the exception of a solid shift midway through the third period, Horton was invisible again with only one shot on goal in 16:16 on ice. Coach Claude Julien has said that Horton needs support and encouragement, but neither that nor less ice time seems to be working.
8dJoe McDonald and Kyle Brasseur
44dKyle Brasseur, Special to ESPNBoston.com