Playing the Pittsburgh Penguins for the second time in less than a week, following a 5-1 blow-out loss in Pittsburgh, and finding themselves in a 2-0 hole after one period, the Boston Bruins could have folded up the tent and went into the all-star break licking their wounds.
Instead, the Bruins kept the campfires burning and rallied for possibly their biggest win of the year against one of the NHL's best teams in a 4-3 victory at the Garden. The hero in this one was a player who came very close to not being eligible due to suspension, Brad Marchand. He had a hearing with NHL officials about a dangerous trip he was guilty of in the previous game against Detroit, but in the end Marchand was not suspended, taking a hit to his wallet instead in the form of a $10,000 fine. And in last night's game he quickly scored two goals in the first six minutes of the second period to pull the Bruins even. Boston forged ahead on a nice redirect tip-in of a Torey Krug wrist shot by Riley Nash, just his third goal of the season. Patrice Bergeron pushed the lead to 4-2 on a power play, and that goal proved to be the game-winner as the Penguins would make it a one-goal game midway through the period on a goal by Patric Hornqvist.
So the Bruins hit the all-star break winners of two in a row, and inside the playoff bubble, although they still have a lot of work to do after the break to stay there. The Toronto Maple Leafs, who lost 2-1 to the Philadelphia Flyers last night, are just one point behind Boston for the third spot in the Atlantic division, and they have five games in hand on Boston, due to the weird quirks of the league's scheduling this season. If you're a glass half full kind of fan, one, I envy you, and two, the Ottawa Senators are just two points ahead of Boston in second place, although they have also played fewer games than Boston to this point. Still, for all the kvetching I do about the Bruins, I have to give them credit for these last couple of games, especially against the Penguins, coming back and getting an important home ice victory to add a bit of needed confidence for the season's second half.
The Montreal Canadiens hadn't lost to the NY Islanders in seven straight games against them, but that streak ended in Brooklyn last night as the Isles scored a 3-1 victory over the Habs on the strength of two goals by Andrew Ladd. The Islanders have had a rough season, mired in last place in the conference much of the way, but they have been playing better of late, and are undefeated in their last six games as they head into the all star break. Shea Weber got Montreal's only goal of the game on the power play, and Carey Price took the loss in net.
In womens' college hoops the UVM Catamounts fell to Albany in upstate New York 64-53 last night. The Catamounts had trouble stopping Albany's Imani Tate, but everyone in the America East conference has trouble doing that, as Tate is the leading scorer in the conference and had 29 points last night. Kristina White had a team high 14 for UVM.
Elsewhere, Heather Leblanc continues her stellar season for the Norwich Cadets, and owned the boards last night against Simmons College, hauling down 18 rebounds to go with her 16 points on the Cadets' 60-53. Norwich improves to 11-7 on the season with the victory.
At the Australian Open, all eyes are on the semi-final match in the mens' bracket between Rafael Nadal and Grigor Dimitrov. After splitting the first two sets, Nadal won the third in a tie breaker now leads two sets to one as the fourth set gets underway this hour. The winner will go on to face Roger Federer in the final.