Bruins Take "Step Forward"
BOSTON, MA - The Bruins snapped their two-game losing streak Thursday night, and a stretch of four losses in five games, with a 4-1 win over the Florida Panthers at TD Garden.
They didn't necessarily have their strongest start, in which Head Coach Claude Julien was looking for their "identity" right from the drop of the puck.
But as the 60 minutes progressed, they began to find it.
"We didn’t say much during the game as coaches because you have to let these guys work their way out of it," said Julien following the win. "And I think whether we yell or keep correcting them, I don’t think it’s going to help them get out of it."
"Sometimes you have to work yourselves out of it and I thought that kind of happened a little bit tonight."
The Black & Gold have been placing that onus on themselves to snap their tough stretch, talking about "looking in the mirror" and finding ways to get the response - and results -
they've been working towards.
"I think it is a step forward," said alternate captain Patrice Bergeron. "I think we just stuck with it throughout the game and got better as the game went on. That's what you need to do in stretches like this."
"It's about staying with it and working the process and trying to get better, and working to play your system, and we got he results in the third with those goals."
After a scoreless first, the B's jumped out to the 1-0 lead with David Krejci's third of the season and team-leading 15th point, a one-timed blast that came after a give-and-go with Zdeno Chara up top. Dougie Hamilton's pinch helped create the set-up, with Jarome Iginla providing the screen in front and Milan Lucic doing a driveby in the shooting lane.
Brad Marchand started off a three-goal third period for the Bruins, putting them up 2-0 with this first goal since October 5 (having gone a 13-game scoreless stretch), by driving the net and tapping in a Dennis Seidenberg drive that skirted through Panthers goaltender Scott Clemmensen.
"The effort and willingness was there," said Captain Zdeno Chara. "I thought that for the whole 60 minutes we had really good consistency in our game plan. I thought we were really, really strong making plays. After the first 20, the score was 0-0, but I still liked our game and our patience. Right after we scored some goals, we got some energy from that and started to play with more confidence."
The B's added two more tallies in third, with Torey Krug firing home his sixth goal of the season off a cross-ice pass threaded by Chris Kelly. He's now tied with Ottawa's Erik Karlsson to lead all NHL defensemen in goals.
"We needed one like that, especially in our home building," said Krug. "A lead in the third period, we’ve had the before, and for us to close it out like that was definitely a good sign. Hopefully, we can keep it rolling now."
Reilly Smith capped it off with 1:47 on the clock in third, wristing home a quick release shot off a turnover to make it 4-1.
"You want to keep pressing and pushing the pace and playing aggressive and not being on your heels," said Chara.
Goals came from three lines, and the 'Merlot Line' tallied two fights, from Shawn Thornton and Gregory Campbell. Tuukka Rask made 23 saves, and had to be extremely sharp at timely moments in the game, as usual.
"I feel confident we’re going to be good going into the first half, second half of the season," said Rask. " I thought we started off this season pretty good, but then we just slipped from our game a little bit as a team and that happens, but we just can’t accept that; we have to look at things we we're doing wrong and then work that, work them as a team."
"We’ve been doing that, and I think [Thursday] was a step in the right direction; hopefully we keep that going Saturday."
The Bruins next face Toronto on Saturday at TD Garden, with those in the spoked-B are looking to build upon their effort against Florida.
"I think we have a really strong group. We have a lot of leaders on this team—guys that have been in similar situations. You know that the only way to get out of it is by taking small steps forward," said Chara. "I hope that was the first step forward tonight."
The entire team had talked as a group on Wednesday, obviously not pleased with their results as of late.
As the game went on, the Bruins brought more and more physicality, and began to work themselves back into their style, their heavy game.
"We got better that way but, also, I thought in the third period, you could see the confidence in us moving the puck a little better than we had been in a long time," stressed Julien.
"So all those kind of things started coming around and you just hope that it continues to go in that direction and we don’t have to take a step back."