RALEIGH, NC - For the second straight game, the Bruins jumped out to a 2-0 first period lead on the road against Carolina on Monday night.
This time, they closed it out.
Goals from Reilly Smith, Carl Soderberg started the early scoring, before Johnny Boychuk and Milan Lucic capped off the 4-1 win with a pair of third period tallies. The victory sends them into New York City having won five of their past six games.
"The third period was about putting the final nail in the coffin," said Bruins Head Coach Claude Julien following the win. "We had to come out and play a real strong third period that we hadn’t done in a long time, and I thought our guys did that."
The Black & Gold now have a 100-6-6 record since the 2010-11 season in games which they have held a two-goal lead.
"Right to the end. We didn’t want to give them some life. No matter what, they’re a good team that can come back and they’re pretty explosive when you give them that opportunity so we didn’t want to do that."
The B's were up 2-0 by the time the first 11 minutes had passed in the opening frame.
"Guys were ready right from the start and we played a really solid road game," said veteran winger Jarome Iginla.
"We did let it slip in Ottawa. But today, I think it came down to - our PK was great, our power play had a great first goal for us; zipped it around."
The Bruins' unit with Reilly Smith and Dougie Hamilton on the points, Loui Eriksson and Patrice Bergeron set up near the half walls, and Carl Soderberg in front has been developing over the past 10 or so games, and moved the puck quickly and deliberately.
A give-and-go with Hamilton and Smith commenced, before Hamilton hit Eriksson near the top of the right circle, who fed Soderberg near the goal line. A quick touch pass to Smith in front, with Bergeron crashing the net, and Smith had his third goal as a Bruin.
"We’re starting to know each other," said Soderberg, who earned the assist before netting his second of the season (and in the NHL).
Midway through the first, Soderberg deflected in a long-range drive from Dennis Seidenberg at the left point. Smith had quickly fed the defenseman after his centerman Chris Kelly won a faceoff directly back to him.
It proved to be the game-winner.
But before the final horn sounded, another late goal allowed at the end of the first period brought up deja vu from Friday's 4-2 loss to Ottawa.
The Sens had scored with less than two minutes remaining in the first and then went on to put up three unanswered third period goals. On Monday night, Carolina found a way past Tuukka Rask with just five seconds left in the first, as the puck trickled through after a broken play.
On this night, though, the Bruins got the response they wanted.
"Certainly on the road, you like to get that kind of lead and it’s always something, it would have been nice to come in after the first with a 2-0 lead but it didn’t happen," remarked Julien. "We didn’t lose our composure and I thought that was impressive for me from our team tonight; that we kept our composure despite that."
With the puck bouncing in on Rask off Tuomo Ruutu's stick, the netminder tried to swat it away but was unable to get a handle on his footing and stick enough to connect.
Still, the ever cool Rask didn't let in the way of his and his team's bounce-back effort.
Was he thinking, can't let this one get away like last game?
"Not really," Rask was quick to remark to a reporter, not too worried with the trend in the past couple of games. "It’s just been the case on a couple occasions letting a goal in the last minute of the period."
"As a goalie, it’s something you really don’t want to do but sometimes it happens and you just try to shake it off and then go back out there and not let in another one like that."
And that's exactly what Rask and the rest of the B's did, especially on the penalty kill, thwarting a 5-on-3 in the second to hold their 2-1 lead.
"Our PK had to come up really big at 5-on-3 in a one-goal game and other multiple kills. So that was a huge part of it," said Iginla, who has been a strong penalty killer for the B's this season.
He doesn't always kill though, as Julien often likes to counter with David Krejci's line following a strong PK.
"Tuuks played great in there but also in the third, being able to be up and then having a real strong period all the way through as a team."
"The thing that I liked tonight is that we won faceoffs and we were in the right place to ice it," said Julien, of the 5-on-3 that saw Dennis Seidenberg, Zdeno Chara, Patrice Bergeron and Chris Kelly all battle hard.
Boston finished the night with 32 straight penalty kills, the longest streak on record for the team. The previous streak was 28 from March 1-11, 2007.
"They just are big competitors and they played it tough down low," said Iginla, of his PK counterparts, from his point of view. "Definitely a big part of the game and the win tonight."
"Those are always those ones where you know they’re big momentum shifts either way; they get it, they’re at home, they’re feeling good. But if you don’t get it, it’s a big boost for the other team which was us tonight, and it really was."
The Bruins rode that momentum into the final 20 minutes.
Boychuk pinched in with the puck loose, wound up and lasered it into the open net with his first goal of the season to regain the two-goal lead.
With 11 seconds left, Lucic sealed it with an empty-netter.
"It’s one of those things that whether you respond or not, your team can go either way," said Rask. "You lose a game like last time in Ottawa in the fashion we lost it, it can eat your confidence as a team. But today, we wanted to bounce back."
"We responded well and played a great third period - and that’s what feeds our team’s confidence."
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