Kessel nets 30th goal, adds assist in Bruins win

BOSTON (Ticker) — Boston Bruins coach Claude Julien made it
clear that he wanted young forward Phil Kessel to play hard
every game.

Kessel, benched by Julien during last year’s playoff series
against Montreal and a subject of trade rumors at this season’s
deadline, scored his 30th goal of the season in Boston’s 2-1 win
over the New York Islanders on Saturday.

“He’s what you saw when he’s on his game, a game-breaker,”
Julien said. “When he doesn’t compete the way he’s been
competing lately, he is a player that doesn’t bring as much to
the table.”

After his benching last spring, Kessel scored a key goal in Game
Five before the Bruins lost the series to the Canadiens in

The Bruins jumped ahead of the Islanders 1-0 on Kessel’s goal
3:16 in when he got to a rebound and beat goalie Yann Danis with
a wrist shot inside the left post from the left circle. Kessel
became Boston’s first 30-goal scorer since teammate Patrice
Bergeron had 31 in the 2005-06 season.

“It’s a nice season,” Kessel said. “I give a lot of credit to
my teammates and linemates I’ve been playing with this year.”

Boston made it 2-0 after Kessel gathered Zdeno Chara’s long
clearing pass at the Islanders blue line and sent the puck to a
charging Savard, who fired a wrist shot past Danis’ glove for
his first goal since February 7 against Philadelphia. Boston
scored on the game’s first two shots.

Some of Kessel’s teammates agreed that he’s one of the Bruins’
best offensive threats when he’s on top of his game.

“I don’t think you sneak up to 30,” winger Shawn Thornton said.
“Guys know where he is on the ice at all times. He’s usually up
against the top lines. When he’s skating it shows he’s
certainly a dynamic player.”

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P.J. Axelsson agreed.

“I think he can be a top-goal scorer,” he said. “He’s still
very young. He can be as good as he wants to be.”

The Eastern Conference-leading Bruins earned their second
straight win after they had lost five of six. Tim Thomas
stopped 21 shots in matching his career-high with his 30th win.

Mark Streit had the goal for Islanders, who lost in regulation
for the second time in nine games (5-2-2). New York has a
NHL-worst 54 points.

“It’s been great. Our guys have really come together. They’re
playing hard for each other,” Islanders coach Scott Gordon said
of his team’s recent play. “They’re supportive on the ice and
off the ice and in the room. It’s something we’ve been striving
for in the second half, and it’s been consistent.”

New York cut it to 2-1 when Streit took advantage of a defensive
breakdown midway through the second period. Streit cut between
the defenseman – with Chara apparently expecting a pass as he
circled away – and fired a wrist shot inside the left post.

The Islanders pulled Danis for an extra skater with just over a
minute left.

David Krejci barely missed a goal late in the second when his
backhanded shot from the edge of the crease tipped off the
crossbar and hit Danis’ back before rolling out of the crease.

Thomas made a nice stop on Streit’s shot from the point just as
the first half of a 5-on-3 Islanders advantage ended in the
third period.

“I thought we had a couple of opportunities to shoot the puck.
We just didn’t execute; some guys were just sleeping,” Streit
said. “It’s a 5-on-3. We just have to execute what we do in
practice. We’ve got to read and react and take advantage of it,
and we just didn’t do it.”