Senators-Bruins Preview

Tuukka Rask’s tough luck continued in the Boston Bruins’ latest

game, when he got little support at either end while again failing

to earn his first victory.

Coach Claude Julien probably wouldn’t have had trouble choosing

his goaltender to face the Ottawa Senators anyway.

A quarter of Tim Thomas’ 20 shutouts have come against the

Senators – including one two weeks ago – and the 2008-09 Vezina

Trophy winner has yet to lose this season heading into Saturday

night’s meeting at TD Garden.

Rask unseated Thomas as Boston’s No. 1 goalie last season, but

Thomas has been earning the majority of the starts over his

teammate in 2010-11.

Thomas, 8-0-0 with a 1.39 goals-against average, defeated

Pittsburgh 7-4 on Wednesday before Julien called upon Rask the next

night against visiting Montreal. The Bruins (8-4-1) didn’t give him

much help, surrendering 41 shots and allowing two power-play goals

for the first time this season in a 3-1 loss.

Rask fell to 0-4-1 with a 2.75 GAA.

“We weren’t a very good team in front of him,” Julien said. “…

But I don’t know that I would go after him and say that he’s not

playing well. I think we need to help him out a little bit. When

goalies find their groove, it’s because the team in front of him

play maybe better than we have.”

Thomas hasn’t been great lately, either, allowing 3.0 goals per

game in three November starts and getting pulled Nov. 5 against

Washington. He yielded three total goals in his first six

games.

However, he’s rarely had trouble against the Senators (8-7-1),

who were among the victims of Thomas’ hot start. He made 29 saves

in a 4-0 victory at Ottawa on Oct. 30 – his fifth shutout of the

Senators – and is 12-2-1 with a 1.49 GAA in his last 15 starts in

the series.

Some hostility could carry over from that contest. With just

over two minutes to play in the third period, Ottawa enforcer Chris

Neil picked a fight with Boston defenseman Dennis Seidenberg.

Considering the score at the time and their respective histories

– Neil has been involved in 113 career fights and Seidenberg two –

the Bruins weren’t pleased.

If Neil was looking to give his team a jolt of energy, it seemed

to work. Ottawa responded by winning four in a row prior to a 6-2

home loss to Vancouver on Thursday.

The Canucks scored four goals in the third period, two coming in

the first 1:11.

“Take away the first two shifts of that third period and we

didn’t play a bad game,” coach Cory Clouston said. “But they made

us pay for our mistakes.”

It was hardly the performance Pascal Leclaire was looking for in

his first game back from a groin injury that had kept him out since

Oct. 14. He fell to 0-3-1 with a 3.92 GAA.

Brian Elliott has gone 6-1-0 with a 2.29 GAA in his last seven

starts, the only loss coming against Boston. He’s been experiencing

what Clouston calls a “nagging injury,” however, making it anyone’s

guess who starts Saturday.

Elliott has gone 2-0-1 with a 1.63 GAA in three starts at TD

Garden.

Whichever goalie gets the call could get a boost in front of

him. Filip Kuba, the team’s leading scoring among defensemen the

past two seasons, may make his 2010-11 debut after breaking his

right leg in training camp.