BOSTON, MA - Heading into the third period of Thursday night's game against Toronto, the Bruins held a 3-1 lead.
Usually a strong stat in hockey, the B's had gone into the night, having lost two straight to Montreal and Washington after holding the advantage heading into the final frame.
But this time around, the Black & Gold were able to hold the lead, and get the 4-2 win, by not letting any panic slip into their game - something more cognizant of the B's identity.
"It just seemed like we were confident on the bench," Brad Marchand told media following the game, on the team's composure with the lead. "We knew we were going to take it, and no one was panicking."
"Everyone was quiet, everybody was focused, you could tell that we had a sense of pride and confidence in knowing that we were going to do the job tonight."
"It was a little scary going into the third with that lead," he admitted, with the past two games in mind. "But it seemed like in the room guys were confident, and we had a point to prove tonight, especially going into the third with the lead, and we’re very happy that we pulled it off."
After Marchand's battling along the boards helped lead to his line's first goal of the night, the Maple Leafs evened the score to 1-1 early in the second period. But goals from a streaking Tyler Seguin (who had a three-point night) and David Krejci gave the B's the two-goal lead heading into the third.
"There wasn’t much more [said]," Coach Julien told media, when asked what his message was during the second intermission, given the past two games. "Sometimes you bring that up and it hurts you more than helps so we didn’t bring that up, we just talked about what do we need to do in this third period and we wanted to make sure we didn’t turn pucks over and that we got pucks in deep and made their D’s go back just like they were trying to do to us."
"They just kept sending pucks in all night long making our D’s turn back and go for the puck and they had a great forecheck going so it was a lot of the same going both ways and that’s basically what we talked about."
"Never talked about, 'let’s make sure we don’t blow the lead for a third time in a row here,' certainly not a good message for your team going into a third period with a 3-1 lead."
Despite Jay McClement tipped in a second goal for the Leafs to make it 3-2 with 5:08 to go in regulation, the B's stayed calm, stuck to their game, and sealed it with a Seguin empty-netter with 15 seconds on the clock.
Boston ended the night scoring goals in the final two minutes of all three periods, marking the eighth time this season in which the B's have scored a goal with under 2:00 left a in period and they now own a 6-0-2 record in those games.
"We want to make sure that the beginnings and the ends of each period, you want to have it strong," said Captain Zdeno Chara following the win. "And we were able to score those two goals at the end of the two periods, and that’s always nice to score, and then you can kind of get a rest between periods and get a chance to regroup and also go into the next one with a lead."
"We didn’t want some unnecessary plays that would cause us to fall back," added Zee, who led the B's with 23:51 of ice time. "Even though they did make it a one-goal game, we kind of stayed strong, and we kept our composure and, we forced them to pull the goalie and we scored another one, so we were just trying to really focus on playing well defensively."
"I think their whole attitude was, ‘listen, we’re here to win, let’s not play on our heels, let’s go get the next one,’" Coach Julien told media following the game, on his B's no-panic mode. "We had a couple good scoring chances after they made it 3-2. Like I said before, we even scored that empty-netter."
"At least we didn’t sit back, we didn’t panic. Our guys responded well, we looked more like the team of before, when they made it 3-2, than we did the last couple games."
Getting back to their identity was the main focus heading into the night - not necessarily to "bounce back" per se, but just to focus on themselves on playing the Boston Bruins style of hockey.
"Yeah, it was very important. We’ve talked about before the game and in the morning skate as well and the emphasis was really on having a good 60-minute effort and being solid and just coming out with the two points and I thought we did that," said alternate captain Patrice Bergeron.
"Yeah, we talked about the fact that we needed the third to be our best and even though they scored that second goal we stayed with it and we found a way."
"I thought that our team was better tonight. We talked about that," Coach Julien said, when asked about the team's compete level and increased net drive against Toronto. "I thought our net drive and our middle drive kind of slipped a little bit lately and we’re looking to make plays on the outside so that kind of led the way in terms of examples we’re talking about and what it did."
"So certainly we can use those examples to mold or reinforce what net drive and middle drive does for our hockey club and it created those goals that you talked about," he added, on the B's tallies scored from driving the net or being positioned near the crease.
And while the Bruins were able to generate offense, as well as get back to their sound defensive and hard forechecking game, Coach knows that there is still much room for improvement to get his club where it needs to be.
"We’re certainly not perfect right now, we’re certainly not, as I mentioned earlier, firing on all cylinders," said Coach Julien. "I think right now, we’re laboring through it. But, the work ethic was there tonight."
"The peaks and valleys of a season are pretty obvious that, watching us play, nothing is real easy right now. The fact that we’re working through it – if we keep working like that, it will come back."
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