Bruins Get Full Commitment in Dallas
BostonBruins.com - This one was laced with everything a little bit Bruins.
It wasn't necessarily an overpowering performance. The Stars pushed, and didn't give up a ton. But the Bruins found a way to battle, and fight through, and put together an all-around performance in a 4-2 over the Stars in Dallas on Thursday night.
"Much better compete level," Bruins Head Coach Claude Julien said postgame. "I thought our compete level for a road game - first period I thought was a good battle, second period there we got a timely goal and I thought we were a really strong team in the third."
Brad Marchand gave Boston a 2-1 lead in the third, after the Stars' Erik Cole had been the benefactor of a lucky deflection off his stick on the power play. Patrice Bergeron pressured Cole behind the net, causing the takeaway, before Marchand quickly put the puck home.
"We wanted to make sure we tried to right the ship, and we've been playing half-decent lately but we knew we could be a lot better," said Marchand. "And I think we did a really good job at sticking with it."
"They didn't give us a ton. We were battling all night but Bergy [Bergeron] and Smitty [Reilly Smith] did a great job on the forecheck and poked it out."
Boston extended the lead just about 12 minutes later, when Milan Lucic tipped in Krejci's shot from the slot on the power play after a give-and-go switch with Krejci and Torey Krug up top. The goal was under review for a high stick, but the call stood. It proved the game-winner.
"It was close. I knew it was going to be really close and thankfully they called it on the ice," said Lucic. "Krech and Kruger did a good job up top kind of switching and creating that shot, and I was able to get a good tip there and it ends up being a big goal."
It marked Lucic's first goal in 10 games, and the Bruins' first power-play tally of 2014.
"Goals haven't really come easy for me the last 18, 19 games, nice to get one there especially on the power play," said the winger. "You know, good road win. I thought we played well from start to finish, and Chad played well in net. Obviously our PK played extremely well, and nice to start off this two-game road trip with a win."
Stars Captain Jamie Benn would make it a one-goal game with 1:11 left to play, but Patrice Bergeron fired in the empty-netter to seal the 4-2 win.
Chad Johnson got the start between the pipes, making 33 saves, assisting in the win with confident play and timely stops.
"He played huge," said Marchand. "He made a lot of big saves at the right times, especially at the end there, he did a great job of staying composed and through that eye injury, so he did a great job."
With about seven minutes left in the second period of a scoreless game, with battling in front, Zdeno Chara's stick blade found its way through the cage of Johnson and cut him below his left eye. Johnson made a wraparound save, but was startled by the contact.
Bruins Athletic Trainer Don DelNegro tended to the goaltender to stop the bleeding, and Johnson was good to go.
"It was such a quick play. I knew it was a blade, I could feel it hit my cheek and kind of come up and hit my eyelid and my contact fell out and it just happened so fast, and it just kind of startles you because you don't expect a blade to fit under your cage," said Johnson postgame. "It's just kind of a freak play but just kind of glad it's just a cut."
The cage was good to go, too.
"Zee's strong, but I don't know think he's that strong that his blade would bend it," Johnson laughed.
Chara had come over to his goaltender to make sure he was okay, and you could see Johnson give a smile. He ended up playing the rest of the second period with just his right contact in.
"Just a little blurry but it wasn't too severe that I couldn't play," he said.
After the second, he threw in a replacement contact. But the netminder had to make some timely stops at the end of the second, when the Stars gained zone time.
"I think I'm pretty calm anyways when I play, just kind of refocus," said Johnson, who earned the victory in his first start since December 19 in Buffalo. He had played two games in relief since then.
"I felt really good off the bat," he said. "They came pretty hard and throw pucks on the net and they always try to hit the guys wide, and I think our guys did a good job of really boxing out and battling in front. It was just a really good effort overall."
"He was good," said Julien. "I thought he played a real solid game and was square to the puck all night long, so good outing for him."
The Stars pulled within one to make it 3-2 late in the third period, with a loose puck and scramble in front. But Johnson stood tall late, and Patrice Bergeron drove in the empty-netter. Gregory Campbell blocking a shot in the dying seconds to preserve the 4-2 win.
It was also laced with the usual Black & Gold toughness, as when Zdeno Chara and Adam McQuaid stood up for teammate Loui Eriksson, who had been in a words exchange with Stars forward Vernon Fiddler (who certainly made his presence known all night).
The shoving led to an inopportune Bruins PK, but the team made the kill, going 5-for-6 on the night.
From the back end out, it was the outing the Bruins needed, having dropped three of their past four games before earning the win in Dallas.
"Our whole game had collapsed," said Julien, of the tough stretch that seemingly took a turn for the better in Dallas. "Overall that whole game - five-on-five, special teams - we were good all-around."
Next heading to Chicago to face the Blackhawks on Sunday (12:30 p.m. ET/NBC), they will again need the all-around effort. And with no extra build-up needed, they'll need full-on Boston Bruins hockey.