Bruins Head into Holiday Break on High Note
NASHVILLE, TN - When the puck dropped in Music City, the focus was simple for the Bruins: win in Nashville, and enjoy a much-deserved three-day holiday break around Christmas.
Boston ended up erupting for a 6-2 win over the Predators, to give them seven wins in their past nine games, and improve to 25-10-2 on the season.
"Yeah, it’s always more fun when you’re winning, you know?" Tuukka Rask said from the Bruins' locker room following the win.
The cool, casual netminder has only allowed three goals in his past two starts, and made 32 saves in this one.
"But I was pretty happy the way we finished off these last four games, played some good hockey and got a good road win here to finish it off, so it’s a good break for us now."
"It makes Christmas a lot nicer, obviously," Head Coach Claude Julien had smiled prior to the matchup. "But we have a job to do and we have to go out there and do it."
His team followed suit.
But Boston didn't just get contributions from their top six; Matt Fraser scored his first as a Bruin less than five minutes after Iginla's tally to make it 2-0 early in the first. He pounced on a loose puck after a Carl Soderberg chip-in and let off his release.
"Kind of been looking for that first one for a while now and I felt like I’ve been playing well and getting chances; it was just a matter of going in," said Fraser, who has been one of the top scorers in the AHL the past three seasons.
Fraser now has two NHL goals, both coming in Nashville (Loui Eriksson helped give him his first back on February 25, 2013 when he was with Dallas).
"I don't know what it is," he said, about the coincidence. "I was kind of thinking about that today; you always remember your first one, so that was nice."
Along with Fraser's offensive breakout, Ryan Spooner's upped confidences was on full display. The center earned three assists on the night, including a helper on Fraser's goal.
It marked Smith's fourth power-play goal of the season, all assisted by Soderberg, and coming with their branded back-door play.
"Teams are probably going to start cheating on it and playing away the pass but, until they do, I think we’ll stick to it," smiled Smith.
"I've got my bag of tricks, I guess."
The rest of the Bruins did, too, on Monday night in Nashville. And the team needed it, after the Predators' Craig Smith put up two goals in the second and third to make it a 3-2 game.
Just a minute and a half after it became a one-goal game in the final frame, Iginla batted in a pass from David Krejci meant for Milan Lucic. It came on a 5-on-3 opportunity, with the Preds called for too many men.
Just 49 seconds later, Soderberg re-upped the Bruins' two-goal lead, firing home a quick-fire setup by Spooner taking a turn around the net.
"You could see that coming from other games; they were starting to get chances, they were spending a lot of O-zone time," said Julien, of callups like Spooner and Fraser finding another gear in their offensive contributions.
"You felt, as a coach, it was just a matter of time before they could get some goals there and tonight, obviously it was nice to see Fraser get that, Spoons had three helpers tonight."
"There’s so much depth in this organization so a lot of people might have looked past us in the last few games having so many guys who aren’t regularly in the roster," said Smith, who now has three goals in his past two games.
"But guys like Spoons and Fraz, Carl did a great job being able to lift the puck into the back of the net when we got the opportunity."
The Bruins may have allowed their three-goal lead slip, but they powered back. Holding a 5-2 lead in the third, they gift-wrapped the win with a season-high six-goal night, including three on the man-advantage.
"They created a lot of good chances from what they had, but I think we dominated the game for the most part," said Smith. "It was good that our power play was clicking because when they jumped back in, we were able to shut the door."
McQuaid Returns…with a Bang
Adam McQuaid returned to the lineup, after missing nine games to a re-aggravated lower-body injury.
He wasted no time in getting back into his physicality, dropping the gloves with Eric Nystrom on his first shift. It was a lengthy, heavy bout.
The hard-nosed blueliner ended up heading right to the locker room to get stitches and missed about half of the first period. Regardless, it certainly got him right back into it.
"I ended up missing some time. But I guess if you're going to get back in there, you might as well start off wing a bang," he smiled.
Julien Earns 400th NHL Win
With the victory over Nashville, Coach Julien earned his 400th NHL win behind the bench.
Like most players, Coach doesn't really pay attention to statistics like that, but it still marks quite a milestone.
"To be honest with you, I’ve said that all along, those things don’t really matter to me right now," remarked Julien. "I just feel that those things are good when you’re retired; when you’re retired you can look back at those kind of accomplishments."
"But right now, you hope as a coach, that there’s a lot more ahead for you so I’m looking for a little bit more than just 400 wins."
"That’s great," said Rask, when informed of the milestone. "That’s a pretty great accomplishment, that’s a lot of wins. Happy for him."
Here's to 400 more.