BOSTON, MA - After nearly every Bruins game, you'll hear a phrase uttered from the bench boss and his team.
"We played the full 60 minutes."
Thursday night may not have been the prototypical all-around Boston was looking for against first place San Jose at TD Garden, but it was all about the finish.
With the clock winding down, and the game knotted at 1-1, David Krejci fought his way to the slot and tipped a point shot from Adam McQuaid through Antti Niemi with 0.8 seconds left in regulation, after a simple Milan Lucic dump in. 2-1 Bruins.
The win - the B's fourth straight - handed the Sharks their first regulation loss of the season.
"We stuck with it," said Krejci, with his 'business as usual' persona in the locker room postgame. "The last goal was a perfect example of not trying to be too cute. A few seconds left into the game, Looch chips it in to himself, get it back, point shot, a lot of traffic. So we just stuck with our system and got the job done."
"I took a look. We were going up the ice but I still, I knew the clock was winding down," said McQuaid. "I didn’t realize it was quite that low but, there were seven seconds left when I looked."
Just enough time.
"I don’t think we could get much closer."
Krejci's goal celebration consisted of a determined look, proud of the puck finding its way through one of the league's hottest goaltenders in Niemi, who had helped his team to its 8-0-1 first place start before the Bruins' last second effort.
"I thought it might be more than like 10 seconds, 10-15, 20 seconds," said the alternate captain.
"But when we all came together, Looch told me 'Look up!' so I looked up and it was .8 so it was even sweeter."
"Honestly, when the rush started I had no idea how much time was left on the clock," said Lucic. "It was probably a better thing because when I got the puck back in the corner on the forecheck, I probably just would’ve thrown it on net and tried to create a play there."
"But instead, I was able to find Quaider and Quaider did a great job of getting the puck to the net, and obviously the good tip for the game-winning goal."
With the clock winding down, a team might be accustomed to letting the game head to overtime, knowing the point was earned.
"The objective is to try to score every shift, right?" remarked Lucic.
"You try to keep plugging away, plugging away and hope that it works for you. On both goals, we were able to kind of establish an offensive set and zone time a little bit to get in deep, work it out to the point, get it to the net, [and get] guys going there."
"That’s the type of team, if you look at the past several years, that’s the way we’ve scored a majority of our goals. We need guys to get to the front of the net and pick up on those loose pucks and get tips like we did on that last goal."
"Hopefully, we can continue to find ways to score."
It will help that his line is beginning to find its groove. With Lucic and Krejci in their seventh season together, Jarome Iginla has only added to the fit.
And after seven scoreless games, the winger found the back of the net with 1:12 left in the second period to put the Bruins up, 1-0.
"It wasn’t exactly how I envisioned it, shooting it in, but at this point you take anything or anytime - actually, you take any of them," said Iginla, on his first in the spoked-B, scored by banking in a puck off the end boards, after a Krejci deflection had gone wide.
"But it was a good bounce."
Again, it was about the finish. And the tip certainly foreshadowed the line's end-cap to the night.
"I had three good tips today so, not that I was feeling it, but when Quaider shot it, I had a pretty good feeling that it could go in," Krejci admitted postgame.
It was a routine tip, that you see the Bruins practice over, and over, and over, in practices.
"We do those all the time, after you shoot the puck, you stay in front of the net and wait for the D to shoot the puck, trying to get a stick on it or screen the goalie so we practice those things all the time."
Cliche or not, practice made Krejci perfect on his tip with less than a second left.
"It was cool, usually it happens when you score in overtime, it's pretty special as well. I can't remember if I ever scored a goal like that in the last second," he said. "So it was maybe even more special, especially against a team like that, so yeah, I was pretty happy about it."
The victory pushes the Bruins into first in the Eastern Conference, and tied in points (14) with Pittsburgh and Toronto.
"We have to be disappointed as a group," San Jose Head Coach Tod McLellan said following his team's late game loss. "We can’t leave here saying the ‘hockey gods’ or ‘we could have or should have’ because 'could have' and 'should have' never won any games."
The Bruins were outshot in the first period 16-3 and 39-7 overall, though they never felt 'out' of the game, especially with the help of Tuukka Rask between the pipes, stopping 38 of 39 shots. The only goal came just 18 seconds into the third period, off a rebound from Patrick Marleau.
Through eight games, Rask has now allowed only 10 goals against.
"It was one of those ones where we really, really had to grind it out tonight," said Lucic.
"I think I speak for everyone here, you can see why they’re such a strong team and why they’ve been so successful to start the year. Again, it was a team effort starting from the goal."
"Without Tuukka playing the way that he has…That’s why he gets paid the big bucks and that’s why I think he’s been our MVP this far."
"They hadn’t lost a game in regulation yet so we wanted to change that, obviously," said Rask. "It’s always a good test when there’s a team who’s playing at their best and has a good record like that."
San Jose came at Boston hard, with aggressive pinching, constant pressure and took away their options at every turn. The second and third periods evened out more, but sustained attack was hard to come by, and most opportunities were created off the rush.
"Yeah, I think early on in the season, we're learning to win games in different ways," said Krejci. "Today was one of them. It was a tough one, but we got it done. It's good to be on a winning team right now, and a winning streak, so hopefully we can keep it going."
Despite feeling like the Sharks dictated the pace all night, the Bruins left the 60 minutes feeling like it wasn't their strongest game, but against their drawn opponent, the effort until the end was what counted.
"They were a real good team on this night and I think if I’m the coach of the other team I would tell myself, ‘Probably deserved better,’" said Bruins Head Coach Claude Julien.
"But when you’re coaching the team that won you say, ‘Good job’ to your team because I thought we did a good job of - we use the term 'weathering the storm.'"
"Overall, it becomes one of those things where you enjoy the fact that your team found a way to win and never quit."
"So I’m not going to stand here and say we were the better team tonight but we were the team that won."
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