TAMPA BAY, FL - The Bruins were due for a breakout performance.
It couldn't have come at a better time, earning a 5-0 win over the Tampa Bay Lightning on Saturday night in the Sunshine State, going up against a goaltender in Ben Bishop who had won five straight and a Bolts squad that had won five of its last six games.
Tuukka Rask stopped all 23 shots to earn his 17th career shutout, putting him in sole possession of ninth place on the Bruins' all-time list.
"Everyone showed up from the drop of the puck tonight and it obviously shows on the results," Bergeron said from the locker room following the win. "I thought [against] Florida we had a good first period and we scored two goals but we kind of got back on our heels a bit and they came back in the game."
"I think tonight we kept pushing, and, look at the result."
The consistent effort was a prototypical "Bruins style" win, with no panic in their play. With emphasis at both ends of the ice, goals came both off the rush and from a strong cycle game.
"We need to play better than we did in Florida, and to play, a cliché 60-minute game," defenseman Dougie Hamilton had said pregame.
"We really need to keep working and keep pressuring teams and keep being relentless."
With the victory, Boston has improved to 5-2-0 on the season, and has won two straight, picking up four points on the Florida road trip.
"Today is probably our best all-around game," said McQuaid, who earned his first goal of the season off a high slot wrister, with Jarome Iginla camped in front, that gave the Bruins a 2-0 lead early in the second period.
"We’ve been working to try and get better and better each game, and I think tonight was a good start."
The defensive commitment helped secure the shutout for Rask, who was stellar when he needed to be, most notably stoning Steven Stamkos with a glove save near the midpoint of the third.
"We did have our breakdowns at times and Tuukka was there like he normally is to bail us out, and it’s always nice to be able to see him get a shutout," said McQuaid.
"There are a lot of games that he played extremely well, you know, he gives us a chance to win every night, so it's nice to see him get rewarded that way."
For the second straight game, the Bruins got the start they were looking for, with Krejci scoring just 1:32 into the first. He led the rush up ice, and found Lucic down the left side, who then hit him at the top of the crease for his first of 2013-14.
"We had a good start, obviously, but we scored the goals the way we want to score them," said Head Coach Claude Julien. "From a net drive on David’s, from a net-front presence with Iggy, same thing with a middle drive with Loui on Bergy’s goal."
With about just over five minutes to go in the second period, the puck deflected from Dennis Seidenberg out to Reilly Smith, who led the defense to offense rush and brought about a give-and-go with Loui Eriksson, before hitting Bergeron with a pass at the right circle.
Kelly capped off the three-goal second period when he potted his third of the season (tied with Lucic for the team lead) just 55 seconds after Bergeron beat Bishop five-hole.
Carl Soderberg, making his season debut after recovering from a preseason ankle injury, cycled the puck down low to Kelly, who passed back and forth with Brad Marchand before his patience put the puck bast Bishop, forcing a goalie switch from Tampa.
"There’s a lot of things there that you’ve seen us work on our cycle game in the last couple of practices and Kelly’s goal was indicative of that," said Julien. "So, offensively it was nice to see us score some goals, but I thought that the pace and the tempo of our game was good tonight, too."
"We were moving the puck quickly and we were skating from start to finish so I’m a lot happier with this game than I was with the last one."
The puck founds its way into the back of the net Saturday night, yes, but the Bruins' defensive coverage was also shored up.
"We talked about that after last game and I didn’t feel that we were committed. Like I said, going to the net hard and those kind of things. Even defensively, little lapses," said Julien, reflecting on the focus after squeezing out the 3-2 win against the Panthers.
"I thought we did a good job too backchecking and pressure – we had numbers come back – and our D’s, again, I thought they played well and defended well."
"So I thought our commitment was much better and when the commitment is there. you see what kind of team we can be. So we have to hopefully build on that and continue to give those kind of efforts."
Just 34 seconds into the third period, Thornton fired in his first of the season to get the Merlot Line on the board and complete the four-line scoring, making it 5-0.
"I think all three zones, everyone played pretty solid tonight. Tuukka, all the way out," said Thornton. "So we’re happy with the way this trip went and now, we focus on Wednesday [in Buffalo]."
"We wanted a better 60-minute effort tonight and I think we accomplished that."
And then some. A Boston Bruins' style victory wouldn't be complete without dropping the gloves.
There was a scrap in each period, with Gregory Campbell and B.J. Crombeen dancing in the first, before Adam McQuaid and Nate Thompson took liberties on each other, and a Jarome Iginla vs. Radko Gudas rematch from the home opener in Boston finished off the fighting.
"We had the lead and we didn’t sit back, we built on it and we kept putting the puck in the net," said Krejci.
The Bruins put home five of their 22 shots.
"It was a key to our performance. Just a great 60-minute effort by everybody."
And in typical Krejci fashion, he wasn't as focused on the end result of this one, as he was on the next challenge ahead, playing in Buffalo on Wednesday and back in Boston on Thursday against San Jose.
"But let’s forget about this game and get ready for the next one."
"We know we have a tough stretch in front of us – back to back games. It’s going to be tough, but it’s good to get four points on the road."
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