BOSTON - There was a different feeling in the Bruins' locker room on Tuesday night at TD Garden.
Their 5-3 win over the Nashville Predators gave them two straight wins for the first time since mid-November.
Sunday's 4-3 overtime win had given the team a much-needed lift after three of their previous four games had ended with one-goal decisions not in their favor. But Tuesday's win had them feeling more on the right track. The Bruins never trailed in the game.
"It was good, I think it was good to see glimpses of how we know we can play and we know it’s still in here," Brad Marchand told reporters after netting a two-goal night, including the game-winner.
"I thought we had a really good first couple periods. We didn’t have the best third but we were able to still come out with the win and that’s what we need."
The Predators tied it up 1-1 just over five minutes later, but the Bruins jumped back on top 2-1 at 9:43 into the first period.
David Krejci let a one-timer rip off a feed from Torey Krug on the power play for his first goal since returning from injury. It marked the first time the Bruins had scored power play goals in back-to-back games since November 6 and 10. Zdeno Chara caused the havoc in front of Nashville goalie Carter Hutton.
BOSTON - With David Krejci back in the lineup, the Bruins have still been searching for consistency in their lines.
Loui Eriksson started Sunday night's game against Buffalo playing with Krejci and Milan Lucic. It's been an oft talked about lineup move, with that right wing position still in limbo and Krejci re-finding his game after returning from injury.
But with the Bruins down 2-1 late in the second period, Head Coach Claude Julien put Eriksson back with Chris Kelly and Carl Soderberg. The trio scored on their first shift together, with Kelly bouncing in a Zdeno Chara drive to tie the game. Eriksson provided the double-screen in front as Kelly provided the deflection.
The trio spent the rest of the game together, though Eriksson ended up on the ice with Lucic and Krejci when he scored the overtime winner amidst a line change. The B's topped the Sabres 4-3.
In the past three games, Eriksson has two overtime winners and two assists, Soderberg has a goal and three assists and Kelly has a goal and two assists for a combined 11 points.
That line remained together for Monday's practice at TD Garden.
"You saw last night, I had to put Eriksson back with his line and all of a sudden, first shift together, they score a goal - and that's the challenge I've been dealing with all year, is trying to find guys on certain lines that help certain guys," Julien said following the skate. "So, you know, when you try and help one line, it seems like you're weakening another and so I'm doing my best here to try and balance that with inserting different players and trying different things."
WINNIPEG - The Bruins had a chance to string together back-to-back wins for the first time in a month on Friday night.
A win over the Jets would have sent them home with five out of six points on a road trip through Nashville, Minnesota and Winnipeg.
But a tough start, combined with passing up shots for the "cute" plays and no bounces their way, led to a 2-1 loss for the Bruins. They head home to Boston with three of six points, after picking up an overtime win in Minnesota and a point in a shootout loss to Nashville.
"I'm not happy. Because we could have came back - the way we were playing - we could have came back with five out of six," Head Coach Claude Julien said postgame on Friday, assessing his team's trip as a whole.
"And if we're happy with that (three out of six points), we're going to be on vacation there in the beginning of April. We're going to need more than that, to be honest with you. We've got to string some wins together here and this was an opportunity that we missed [Friday night]."
The Bruins had Thursday off in Winnipeg after a back-to-back against the Predators and Wild. They were well-rested.
A tough break 24 seconds into the game, when Torey Krug's clearing attempt when into the stands for a delay of game penalty, didn't help. The Bruins made the kill, but shortly after, a deflection trickled through Tuukka Rask and Evander Kane punched in the loose puck at 3:12 into the first.
"Right now, I can't afford to make those mistakes," said Rask.
WINNIPEG - David Krejci made his long awaited return to the lineup in Minnesota on Wednesday night, after missing 11 straight games and 17 of the previous 19 with an undisclosed injury he's been battling all season.
Twice amidst that stretch, he had tried to return.
He missed two games in early November before returning to play on November 6. He missed the next four games and then made another return on November 18, but was sidelined for the Bruins' ensuing 11 games.
This time around, Krejci is confident that he won't encounter those setbacks.
"Glad I got through it," the center said on Friday morning, as his team prepared to face the Jets. "I'm glad I'm ready to go again tonight."
As the Bruins finish off their road trip in Winnipeg on Friday night, Krejci is focused on helping the team close out their road trip by picking up five of six points, but he's also focused on making sure the once injured area continues feeling fine.
WINNIPEG - The Bruins could end this week's road trip through the Central Division with five out of six points if they pick up a win against the Jets in Winnipeg on Friday night.
They could also hop the Florida Panthers in the standings, and pick up two straight victories for the first time since November 18 and 21.
The Bruins are currently sitting one point behind Florida for the second Wild Card playoff spot. The Panthers picked up two points in a 2-1 shootout win over the Philadelphia Flyers on Thursday night and have two games in hand on Boston.
"Well, it turns tonight into a very important game. It seems like Florida keeps winning every shootout their in, no matter how many rounds it goes," said Reilly Smith, referencing the Bruins' fellow Atlantic Division opponent, which has won two straight shootouts (the first going to 20 rounds).
"We're battling for the last playoff spot right now. I know there's still more than half a season left, but we want to get those points right now in the middle of the season," said David Krejci, who is expected to play his second straight game since coming back from injury.
"This would be a perfect ending to the road trip with five points, so obviously we're going to do everything we can to get the two points."
NASHVILLE - Tuesday night in Nashville ended on the same note for the Bruins - just a touch short of pulling out the extra point, as they fell 3-2 in a shootout to the Predators.
The Bruins' last three games have been one-goal games. They've earned a point in their past two, but still sit out of a playoff spot with eight losses in their last 10.
This game could serve as something for the Black and Gold to build on, as they continue their three game road trip with a quick turnaround against the Minnesota Wild in St. Paul on Wednesday night.
But losing doesn't feel any better, even if the effort earns a point.
"It's constantly the same thing," said Reilly Smith, who tied the game at 2-2 in the third period with his eighth of the season. "It seems like we're getting there, we're getting close, we're playing hard, we're battling till the end, but we're coming up short in a lot of these games where we need to get some extra points just to give us a little more hope in the standings."
"So this is an important road trip for us and it would have been really nice to get that extra point."
NASHVILLE - When the Bruins went out West two weeks ago, there was urgency. They needed to try and find consistency in their game, and there was no better test than a string of tough games against the Western Conference's best.
Once again, they find themselves in a similar situation.
The Black and Gold have lost seven of their past nine games, and desperately need points, currently sitting just out of a playoff spot.
They kick off a three-games-in-four-nights road swing on Tuesday night in Nashville, before facing Minnesota and Winnipeg.
While the road trip against Pacific Division opponents Anaheim, Los Angeles and San Jose didn't produce any points for the Bruins, they at least got solid efforts in two of the three games. The Bruins need better results on this Central Division trip, which proves to be just as daunting of a challenge.
"This trip is no different. We've got to play well, but at the same time, we've got to come up with some points if we want to call it a success," Head Coach Claude Julien said following his team's pregame skate at Bridgestone Arena on Tuesday morning. "It is about winning hockey games - I think we should sense the urgency of it, and it starts [against Nashville]."
NASHVILLE - Center David Krejci will not be in the lineup on Tuesday night in Nashville, as the Bruins face the Predators.The hope is still that Krejci will return to game action amidst the Bruins' three-game road trip. They play in Minnesota on Wednesday, before finishing off the trip in Winnipeg on Friday.
BOSTON - The Bruins are 2-5-2 in their last nine games, and clearly not where they want to be.
It goes without saying that this hasn't been a fun stretch for the team.
As the Bruins hit the road Monday for three games in four nights against Nashville, Minnesota and Winnipeg, the urgency was felt from the group.
"There's nobody in that dressing room that is enjoying losing. There's nobody in that dressing room that enjoys seeing us where we are right now," Julien said before the team traveled to Nashville. "So, don’t think that those guys don’t care."
"I think what we have to find here is a solution - not wondering whether they care or not - and the solution is we've got to be able to find a little bit more out of everybody and we need to step up. And that's what you got to do when you’re in that situation. That's what all teams have to do when they’re in that situation, so there's no real mystery or surprise there."
"It’s up to us to battle our way out of it. Nobody’s going to do it for us."
BOSTON - With the Bruins trailing 3-1 nearly eight minutes into the third period, Milan Lucic went barreling end to end, past four Blackhawks, before muscling through to the opposite end boards, maintaining control of the puck and feeding Torey Krug down the middle for a fire that pulled the team within a goal of tying one of the hottest teams in the League.
Lucic took a shot from Andrew Shaw into the boards after the goal. Chris Kelly jumped in and squared off with Shaw, Krug tangled with Klas Dahlbeck. Sticks and gloves flew. The crowd rose to its feet with a deafening roar.
Boston's third period push wasn't enough, ultimately falling 3-2 to Chicago at TD Garden on Thursday night. The Hawks picked up their eight straight win in the process.
If the Black and Gold would have had more fight and more finish, like on that sequence, they could have found themselves winners of two straight for the first time since mid-November.
"Awesome effort. Those are the kind of efforts we need to win some hockey games here," Head Coach Claude Julien said postgame. "So we need more of that."
'From him in particular?' a reporter followed up.
"From everybody," said Julien.