Axelsson

Axelsson

BOSTON — The Boston Bruins went through their first morning skate of  2009 at TD Banknorth Garden just a couple hours ago. And the lines they skated were the same as the ones that beat tonight’s opponent, the Pittsburgh Penguins, on the road Tuesday night.

The alignment included the swap of left wings head coach Claude Julien made with P.J. Axelsson joining center Marc Savard and right winger Phil Kessel, and Milan Lucic hopping on the line with Stephane Yelle and Chuck Kobasew.

Savard responded with a three-point night and Axelsson notched a couple assists.

“I think it was nice to see the results the other night. Obviously Axie had a couple of assists and definitely made a nice pass on the power-play goal. It was more those lines getting stale and, again, it wasn’t directed at any player in particular more than it was directed at both line being stale,” Julien said after the skate today. “And I thought both lines were better, especially Yelle’s line had a couple good scoring chances too. And obviously Savvy’s line had a good, successful night as well.”

•The defense pairs also skated in their alignment, joined by rehabbing blueliner Andrew Ference, who might be ahead of schedule. Ference, out since Nov. 13 with a broken foot, worked drills with healthy scratch Matt Lashoff.

“He’s doing well. And he’s worked really hard with his rehabilitation to be at the stage where he is right now,” Julien said of Ference. “It’s encouraging news and he’s moving forward and I think we’re all looking forward to having him back in the line-up tonight.”

•Forward Petteri Nokelainen, out eight games with an upper-body injury, was also on the ice, and he said he even took a little bit of contact for the first time. He said he’s improving every day and should be close to a return. Full contact in a practice will give him a better idea where he stands.

•The assignment of center Martin St. Pierre to Providence (AHL) yesterday was just a paper move. Today the club recalled him on an emergency basis and he’s expected to be in the Boston line-up.