When Merlot Goes, So Do the B's
Merlot Line carries Bruins into 4-2 victory over the Islanders
BOSTON, MA - Coming into tonight, the Bruins were looking to get off to a quick start. It didn't necessarily pan out the way right from the drop of the puck, but Merlot Liner Shawn Thornton made sure the B's tide quickly changed. A late second-period goal by Gregory Campbell and third-period surge from captain Zdeno Chara and alternate captain Patrice Bergeron led to the 4-2 victory - and the all-important two points.
"Obviously, we didn’t get the start we wanted, but we found a way, and to get those goals was key," said Bergeron from the locker room postgame, who netted his first goal of the season in the final frame to seal win. "Tuukka [Rask] made some great saves, but we had to find ways to get some offense."
The Islanders fired three shots on Rask, before the B's even put their first puck on Rick DiPietro 4:47 into the first. What was more apparent, however, was the amount of stoppages in the first stanza that made it feel like the one of the "slowest" periods. There were 18 stoppages total - in comparison, the first period of Wednesday night's game against the Rangers saw five total stoppages. But the B's kept pressing.
"That’s something we’ve talked about, to be resilient and to keep fighting and keep battling," added Bergeron. "It’s not always going to be the perfect plays all the time, but you’ve got to battle and you’ve got to find ways to get the result, and I think we did that again tonight."
Once the Bruins got past the initial slow start out of the gate, it was Thornton's net-front presence that got them on the board. Flying down the right wing, he fired a shot on goal (the B's first of the game), before crashing the net. No. 22 then pounced on a loose puck in front after Dan Paille deflected a shot from the right point by Dougie Hamilton.
"Right now our fourth line is our best line," said B's captain Zdeno Chara who, like Bergeron, got his first goal of 2012-13, the go-ahead in the third period which he accompanied with a massive yell and double-first pump celebration. "They’re getting rewarded because they’re playing exactly the way we need from them. So they are our best line right now."
In addition to Thornton's tally - and Dan Paille's speedy skating all night - linemate Gregory Campbell's net drive helped tie the game in the second half of the middle frame - a goal that was reminiscent of Lucic's net-crashing rebound goal in the home opener against the Rangers. Fresh off a line change, David Krejci fired a shot from just inside the blueline on the left wing side and the puck deflected right to Campbell driving the net.
"I am just trying to contribute, whether it’s goals or assists, it doesn’t really matter," said the always humble Campbell postgame from in front of his stall. "It’s just helping the team win."
"They played an extremely good game for us. I thought they allowed us to stay in the game for two periods, until we got ourselves going a little bit," Bruins Head Coach Claude Julien added on Campbell and the fourth line's ability to maintain an extremely high energy and compete level throughout all three periods.
"They’ve always taken pride in doing that for our team in the past. And again, tonight they’re the ones that were doing the right things. And both goals that they scored they had somebody in front of the net. So you know, Thorty on the first one, and Soupy on the second goal."
"They set the example for the rest of the team for the third period."
"I think that it is part of our job description, every night, is to bring energy to our team, whether it was tonight or any other game," added Campbell on his line. "For us, I think it is important to read the game and learn from our mistakes from the last game, where we came out kind of flat and fell behind."
"I think it is something that we address before the game is having a good start, and we were able to get the first goal. I thought that our game dipped a little bit, but we were able to regain the intensity and get back in the game."
The Isles' third line of David Ullstrom, Keith Aucoin and Colin McDonald came up huge for them tonight with two go-ahead goals, but the B's contained New York's firepower up front - their game-plan heading into tonight - and were able to cap off the 4-2 victory with the Captain and alternate captain's third-period tallies.
The final tally coming off the end of Bergeron's stick on a breakaway started with 19-year-old Dougie Hamilton's perfect breakout pass, just one of the several moments throughout Friday's game that earned him his first multi-point NHL game with two assists (first coming on the Thornton goal), First Star status and a "Doug-ie, Doug-ie" chant raining down from the crowd.
"It’s a spark. You always like to see the young guys come in and play well, and have that excitement of living their dream of being in the NHL," said Milan Lucic, who earned two assists of his own tonight.
"Looking at him now, it’s pretty amazing that he got passed up eight times to go ninth overall in the 2011 draft," Lucic added. "We’re real fortunate to have him. He’s got a lot of skill, he’s got a lot of poise, he plays with a lot of confidence."
"He’s doing a good job getting up ice and creating chances, also getting pucks to the net. You see on that first goal with [Shawn Thornton], if he doesn’t get the puck to the net, it doesn’t create that rebound for the goal."
"I was just playing my game," 6-foot-5 Hamilton said to a media scrum of nearly 20 reporters following the game." It was nice to get the points, but more importantly getting the win for sure."
-Milan Lucic's takedown of Matt Carkner at 5:54 of the first period ended with No. 17 throwing a thunderous right that knocked Carkner to his knees… In the same period, Thornton nearly tangled with Matt Martin in the B's end. After Dan Paille delivered a crushing hit on Brian Strait, Martin tried to go with No. 20, but good teammate Thornton stepped in to takeover. Nothing developed, but the B's ended up with a power play at the end of it.
-The Bruins and Islanders are the only two teams in the NHL to remain 100-percent on the penalty kill, with both teams 0-for-3 on the power play. The B's PP has received heat for years, and much talk has been made about its revamped look this season… While still not able to convert tonight, it generated chances again tonight - including a Stamkos-esque one-timer from Seguin at the left circle that nearly blew past Rick DiPietro.