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Caron becoming a presence

Julien impressed by improvement

By Fluto Shinzawa
Globe Staff / November 4, 2011

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Rich Peverley hit the turbos, carried the puck wide right, wheeled around the Ottawa net, then spotted Chris Kelly in the high slot. In turn, Kelly snapped off a long-distance shot that beat goalie Craig Anderson for a go-ahead goal in the second period of the Bruins’ 5-3 win over the Senators Tuesday.

But in the sequence of events that preceded Kelly’s goal, the hard-hat grinding of Jordan Caron was just as pivotal as his linemates’ actions.

“You don’t beat too many goalies from that far out without any traffic in front,’’ said Kelly.

Caron, a five-time healthy scratch this season, dressed for his second consecutive game Tuesday. Based on his play against the Senators, Caron will make it a third straight game tomorrow against the division-leading Maple Leafs in Toronto. Benoit Pouliot will most likely be the healthy scratch.

“I liked the way he played the last game,’’ said coach Claude Julien. “I thought the little things he did, he did well.

“He’s a power forward that is strong on the puck. He’s also pretty good around the net area at tipping and finding loose pucks. That’s been his strength.

“I like his game. It’s hard to grade a guy when he’s in the lineup one game and out the next. This is two games in a row right now for him. From the first game to the second one, he got better. So we hope that continues.’’

Tuesday didn’t start well for the No. 3 line; it was on the ice for Ottawa’s first two goals. But they came off strange bounces. One goal crossed the line an instant before the net was knocked off its moorings. The second went in after a dump-in tumbled off Joe Corvo’s back and dropped into the slot.

Caron helped make up for the two Ottawa strikes. On Kelly’s goal, Caron initially drove to the net to serve as an outlet for Peverley. When Peverley curled around the net instead, Caron’s job was to keep driving, then plant himself in front of Anderson after Kelly got the puck.

In the third period, Caron and Peverley overwhelmed Jared Cowen along the boards in the offensive zone to win a puck battle. As soon as Caron dished to Kelly, the left wing skated toward the net. When Kelly wheeled the puck to Johnny Boychuk at the right point, Caron was in good net-front position to screen Anderson once more.

“It feels good,’’ Caron said of his contributions. “The first few games, we had chances. Nothing went in. [Tuesday night], two of them went in. Pretty good for our confidence.’’

Friendly fists

The last three times Shawn Thornton has dropped his gloves, his fists have met the faces of former teammates. On Tuesday, Thornton tangled with Ottawa’s Zenon Konopka, a former linemate in Portland.

Last Saturday in Montreal, Thornton fought Travis Moen, with whom he won a ring in Anaheim. On Oct. 22 against San Jose, Thornton exchanged punches with Jim Vandermeer, a former Norfolk teammate.

Thornton couldn’t recall ever being on such a streak.

“We’re really, really, really close friends,’’ Thornton said of Moen. “That one crossed my mind afterward. It had to be done. We have a job to do. We’re all big boys. It’s not a big deal.

“But we’ve been to each other’s weddings. I spent Christmas at his house in Anaheim. Roommates for three years.

“Just a little different, that’s all.’’

When Thornton was asked if he planned to continue his run tomorrow against Phil Kessel, the tough guy tried to stifle a snort. It’s likely Thornton’s streak will not continue against that old teammate.

Honored guests

The Bruins will visit the Hockey Hall of Fame in Toronto this afternoon, prior to tomorrow night’s game at the Air Canada Centre. The Bruins will sign autographs at the Hall from 4-5 p.m. and also will donate a championship ring to the shrine . . . Kessel was named the NHL’s Player of the Month for October. Kessel, who had an assist in the Maple Leafs’ 4-1 win in Columbus last night, has 10 goals and 11 assists to lead the league in scoring. “He’s certainly a lot stronger hanging onto the puck than he ever was,’’ Julien said. “He shoots the puck. He’s finding ways to get shots off every game. He has a lot of opportunities. He’s becoming a better player with age. Right now, the only thing that everybody wants to see is whether he’s able to sustain it or not.’’ . . . Peverley and Dennis Seidenberg didn’t practice yesterday for the second straight day. Julien said he expects both players to be in tomorrow’s lineup. Neither has missed a game . . . Before practice, Caron, Steven Kampfer, and Adam McQuaid participated in skating drills with instructor Besa Tsintsadze.

Working hours

The Bruins will not practice today prior to leaving for Toronto. Yesterday was their second straight extended session. “They’ve been longer practices,’’ Julien said. “We’re touching the hour practices. A lot of times, you try and stick under that and keep the pace of the practices as high as you can. But we have some things we have to work on. We’re working on that. I think the guys are good with that. I thought our practice right until the end today, when it was time to battle, you could sense a little bit of fatigue. What you want to see is them battle through that, and they did.’’ . . . Chris Clark could make his Providence debut tonight against visiting Manchester. Clark signed a professional tryout contract Wednesday.

Fluto Shinzawa can be reached at Follow him on Twitter @GlobeFluto.

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