The Bruins outlasted the Sharks in a hotly contested game last night at the TD Garden 5-3. The San Jose team is very good and did enough to win, but the Bruins found the game that's been missing since the start of the new season. Perhaps the most odd part about the game, was Patrice Bergeron had his worst game in recent memory. He was 9-22 in face-offs, had a give away and took four minutes in penalties late in the game to give the Sharks a chance to tie or win the game in the closing minutes. Fortunately, his team mates had other plans for the outcome and came to the rescue.
In my keys to the game segment, I mentioned three things, score on the power play, stay out of the box and get scoring from the fourth line to win. The Bruins scored two power play goals, only took three penalties in the game and Greg Campbell scored the game winner. In my concerns segment, I also mentioned a few things, the Sharks would be containable if they were afraid of our power play and slow the game down, That they were dangerous on the power play and they scored on their first chance and that shooting whenever they could, the Bruins would have better chances against San Jose. I wonder if the Bruins read my pre-game list? If so, I'll try to keep the good ideas flowing.
The Bruins got on the board first when Brad Marchand scored from the top of the right face-off circle with a wicked wrester that audibly clanged of the post and in. It was a power play and Torey Krug had shifted positions with Marchand from the point and passed to Milan Lucic. Lucic banked a clea pass off the boards to Marchand who sliding from the point unmolested to rocket the wrester. It was Marchands first goal of the season. Later after Marchand took a penalty for cross-checking on Justin Braun and Logan Couture defected a shot from the point past Tuukka Rask to even the score at 1-1 as the first period ended.
In the second period back on the power play, Torey Krug took a pass off Milan Lucic in just about the same spot as Marchand earlier and also clanged a wrist shot off the post and in past Antti Niemi in the same spot. The game settled down into a grinding battle for the puck and possession until the Bruins had a break down in front of Rask where Patrick Marleau found himself all alone with the puck in front of Rask with his back to Rask. Instead of trying a spin around or back hander, he slickly passed back out to Couture skating down the slot who buried a quick wrist shot past Rask's stick side. Just 37 seconds later Joe Pavelski from the right sideboards found Joe Thornton with a mid-air pass to the right side of Rask and he tipped it out of mid-air into the net behind Rask. The second period ended with the Sharks up 3-2 and probably feeling pretty good coming into the third period.
The Bruins came out determined in the third period putting on a good forecheck push by every line. Finally a shot from Krug on the point got through to be saved and rebounded to Lucic. Lucic fought control of the puck and back handed a pass into the slot that Seth Griffith picked as he cruised in and blistered pass Niemi for the equalizer. The Bruins continued to press and at about the halfway point of the period of a dump and hard forecheck, Dan Paille threw a pass towards the crease as Simon Gagne and Greg Campbell went to the net. Campbell was able to get his stick on the pass and deflected it past Niemi for the go ahead goal. The Bruins continued to play hard for the puck and hard on the stick disrupting many plays by the Sharks as the clock ticked down. With 4:09 left Bergeron took a double minor high sticking penalty cutting Justin Braun and the Bruins had to face down the potent Sharks power play almost to the end of the game. Had the Sharks scored during the first two minutes, they would stayed on the power play with a chance to win the game in the closing moments. Since the Bruins had lost two previous games this season in the closing moments of a game, it was on every fans mind and I'm sure the Bruins felt the pressure. They played almost flawless penalty kill, keeping the puck out of the defensive zone and had three chances on Neimi shorthanded. Finally after pulling Niemi for the extra man on the ice and a 6-4 man advantage, the Sharks coughed up the puck Chris Kelly along the right side board who skated it out of the zone and fed a streaking Zdeno Chara at the redline. David Krejci joined the rush and Chara lofted a soft pass onto Krejci who decked past the defenseman ad fired at a partially defended net for the empty net goal and dagger in the Sharks heart for the gutsy win and best played game of the season to date.
Special kudos tonight to several Bruins. Milan Lucic looked like he broke out of his funk as he was positively determined and physical all night. He made three key passes and collected 3 assists to be my star of the game. Torey Krug played off sided with Dennis Seidenberg and although they got burned on the second Couture goal, they looked good playing plus 20 minutes each and Krug was able to contribute on both power play goals with a goal and assist. Marchand finally got rewarded with a goal for all the hard work and effort so far this season and except for taking the bad penalty that led to Couture's first goal on the power play, has deserved to post up on the scoresheet like he did last night. A strong effort from the fourth line all night in about 12-13 minutes of play and regular shift rotation that paid off with them scoring the game winning goal as aline. Chara and Doug Hamilton had a relatively quiet night as they went about containing Thornton's line all game which mostly went unnoticed and unmentioned. Adam McQuaid and Matt Bartkowski played some hard minutes and did a great job retrieving pucks in their own end, absorbing forecheck hits and making good passes out of their defensive zone all night. Also unnoticed was the Soderberg line that shut down the Couture, Marleau line most of the night. Big night for Seth Griffith scoring his first NHL goal and kudos to Lucic going right to the net to collect the milestone puck for him.
As mentioned earlier, the most complete well played game of the season for the Bruins and they earned the win in true lunch pail fashion that has been missing for the most part until recently in their game. The effort was much appreciated by the fans that were noticeably the seventh man on the ice with their cheering the play of the team. Next up the New York Islanders and Johnny Boychuk on Thursday night.
Until Next Time!