B's Lose Specials Teams Battle, But Come Out on Winning Side in Winnipeg
WINNIPEG, MB - Loui Eriksson turned the tide of the scoresheet on Thursday night in Winnipeg, roofing the overtime-winner to give the Bruins a 3-2 win over the Jets at MTS Centre.
The stat sheet could have read 0-for-5 on the power play, and 3-for-5 on the penalty kill, in a special teams battle won by the home team.
But when a puck caromed off Ryan Spooner's skate, something began to happen. Dennis Seidenberg quickly sent the puck to the center already in stride down the right side, with a streaking Eriksson on his left, creating the 2-on-1 rush.
Spooner waited, waited, faked the shot with his eyes, and sent a feed through the hash marks to Eriksson, who kicked it to his stick and whipped it top shelf under the cross bar behind Ondrej Pavelec for technically his first goal in game action in the spoked-B. Horn sounds. Game over.
"It was a great shot and great play by Spoons also to feed him the puck there, so it was a really good shift by them on the 4-on-4 and they got rewarded with a nice goal," remarked an impressed Bergeron following the game from the visiting team locker room.
"Not necessarily a pretty game on our end as far as a full game but we found a way to win and some of the guys that need to produce, produced," Head Coach Claude Julien told reporters.
In a see-saw game, the Bruins' dominant first period somewhat faltered off until a strong push in the third.
'Biggest goal of your career?' a reporter jested postgame.
"Yeah, it was nice to get one behind the goalie, and it was a pretty good pass by Marchy," remarked Bergeron.
Of course, albeit in the preseason, the goal felt pretty good for the alternate captain following his summer recovery.
"I feel good, I feel fine and I feel pretty strong on the puck as well, so things are going well," he said, of taking that into the regular season.
Bergeron gave the Bruins an early 1-0 lead, but two power-play goals from the Jets put them ahead early in the third.
But there was Spooner, "making things happen" as he threw a seeing-eye shot on goal from the high slot, with Matt Fraser camped out in front. Just 2:01 after the Jets' tally, we had another tie.
"They got us back in the game and a great play as far as Spoons just moving into the point and a great screen in front by Fraser," said Julien. "Those are the kind of things we talked about after the second period."
"I thought we didn't play a straight-line game; I thought we were zig-zagging a lot and nothing was happening and finally, when we started driving the net and staying in front and causing some havoc, we started getting some production."
"Kind of a lucky shot, I just kind of threw it on net," said Spooner, who tends to create that luck on his own. "I was actually going to change after that and it found a way in, so that was good."
Good, as in, it set the B's up for an overtime, in which the young centerman, once again, found a way to make something happen.
"He's playing really well. I think he's gaining some confidence from every game and that's great to see from a guy like him," said Bergeron.
"I think he's got loads of talents and you know, he's using it right now. He feels good on the ice, you can tell he's got, like I said, the confidence and he makes things happen."
Svedberg Shines Under Pressure
In a game where the Bruins allowed two power-play goals, Niklas Svedberg's most notable saves actually came on the penalty kill. Despite letting in those two goals, he showcased his quick movement in the crease, making 26 saves in the win.
"I thought he played well. Had a lot of traffic in front of him tonight," assessed Julien. "They created a lot and he was able to stop the pucks with those kinds of screens so I thought he was solid."
"It's always good to come up with some big saves," said Svedberg. "Guys were blocking shots and helping me out, so you want to come up with some big saves - and that's my job - so it's always fun to have the chance to make big saves."
"You try to show your best game. Had two goals here; so could have had zero, but I think it was good, to get a full game and get the win."
Tuukka Time in Saskatoon?
So much so that, although Julien had looked to possibly ice his roster on Friday night in Saskatoon against the Jets with Rask in goal, he may have to make another decision.
"Right now there's a possibility [that Rask could play]," Coach said following the win. "We'll see. I could make a decision tomorrow."
"We had anticipated Tuukka playing that game but we may, after some discussions there, we might have to make a different choice."
Marchand-Bergeron-Eriksson Still Meshing
With Bergeron's line still working towards finding chemistry, the defensive game is there, but there's still searching to be spot-on with offensive timing.
The bang-bang Marchand to Bergeron goal is an easy example of the chemistry that pair has formed through the years. Now, it will take time for Eriksson to slide in. The politeness among each other may soon where off as well.
"A lot of East-West and criss-crossing and nothing much came out of it, so they're going to have to learn as a line there to be a little bit more straightforward in order to make things happen," said Julien, who sees his team play best when they play a North-South game and create chances off the rush.
"That's how you open up lanes and make plays, but they seemed a little out of sync and trying to get too cute."
Bergeron had predicted his line to be great on the forecheck; that's already easily apparent, with Eriksson helping create plenty of turnovers to add to Marchand and Bergeron's solid two-way game.
"I think we're causing a lot of turnovers on the forecheck and I think every practices and games obviously helps, to adjust and feel one another on the ice," said Bergeron, who knows the timing will come. "It just keeps improving."