Lucic, B's Stick to Game Plan Amidst Special Teams Battle
50 penalty minutes and four power-play goals later, B's come out on top, 3-2, over Bolts
A special teams battle breaks out between two teams that pride themselves on strong five-on-five play. And such was the case Saturday at TD Garden, as the Bruins ended up with 28 penalty minutes and the Lightning, with 22.
One Bruin - Milan Lucic - factored into both sides of the battle, getting called for two penalties, racking up 5:04 of power-play time, and being on the unfortunate end of a high stick from Brendan Mikkelson late in the third. Though you won't find the burly forward complaining about the game-winner that came as a result, giving the B's a 3-2 win over the Bolts.
"They had a four-minuter as well that our penalty kill was able to kill off which was huge at the end of the second," said Lucic postgame, on the B's killing off a double-minor high-sticking penalty that mirrored their own opportunity towards the end of regulation.
"And same sort of scenario at the end of the third for us and they missed the net and we got two guys back and a 2-on-1 with a great pass by Bergy and a great finish by Marchy, who’s been doing a lot of that as of late, especially big goals - and it’s great to see."
The Black & Gold ended up on the better end of the special teams battle with Marchand's power-play goal at the end, but their first two periods were spent mostly in the box.
The opening frame started with Lucic getting called for interference, before Steven Stamkos whipped a rocket of a shot from the goal line past Anton Khudobin on the Bolts' initial power play of the game, just 5:32 into the first.
Not necessarily the start the B's were looking for - and the time in the box would continue - first with matching unsportsmanlike conduct penalties to Gregory Campbell and Keith Aulie - and then a tripping call on Andrew Ference.
And the Lightning didn't let up on the chance, with Teddy Purcell feeding Alex Killorn to put the visitors up 2-0 just 8:38 into the first.
After killing 27 straight penalties, the Bruins had allowed three power-play goals in their past two games, but didn't let the letdown change their game.
"We got away a little bit from what we were I guess doing on the penalty kill in the first two goals," said PK mainstay Patrice Bergeron. "And we just tightened that up a bit and just went back to doing the little things and taking away their dangerous guys and trying to find ways to be aggressive when there’s [perimeter] puck or a loose puck."
"When calls are made, there’s not much you can do about it after so for us like we talked about, we just wanted to stick within ourselves and with the game plan," said Lucic. "We can’t control the refs, we’re not going to complain about the refs, we’re just going to go out there and play our game."
Nineteen seconds after Killorn's goal, Adam McQuaid ended the B's seven-game drought without a fight and dropped the gloves with Pierre-Cedric Labrie, after the defenseman hadn't been too happy about a late hit by Keith Aulie on Nathan Horton. Labrie stepped in to see what was the matter, and the few shoves sparked the fight.
The B's would get called for two more penalties in the first - both for boarding - with one coming to Lucic with nine seconds left in the period and giving Tampa 1:51 of time on their potent man-advantage to start the middle frame.
"I told the guys we had 40 minutes left and it was important for us to try to stay out of the penalty box," Coach Julien told media postgame. "Five-on-five we could get ourselves back in the game."
"As odd as it may have seemed, I don’t think there was any panic in our dressing room, there wasn’t any panic as far as we were concerned; coaches were pretty happy with what we saw. Like I said, we just had to try and stay out of the penalty box."
A big kill at the outset set them up for Tyler Seguin and Rich Peverley's back-to-back one-timers within 1:17 of each other. Seguin's was a product of the quick momentum swing from the PK to the man advantage, which was showcasing good movement, and Peverley's tied it up.
Special teams would again play a factor at the end of the period, with the B's forced to make another timely kill, this time on a high-sticking double-minor to Ference after Nate Thompson had to head to the dressing room for repairs.
"It was one of those games tonight where there were a lot of penalties called. It’s tough. I think it was mentally tough for everybody, but we had to stay composed, and then deal with it," said Coach Julien.
"A third of the game was our penalty killers, so it’s one of those nights where you don’t want to over-utilize players, but we had to at times."
One such player who did overtime on the PK was Gregory Campbell, who nearly played as much shorthanded time on the ice (5:38) as he did five-on-five (6:10). He also dropped the gloves with B.J. Crombeen, in his third bout of the season.
Through it all, whether weathering the penalties, fighting timely fights, or finding open space on the power play, the B's remained even-keeled with Coach Julien behind the bench.
"We’re just poised," said Coach. "That’s why I talk about character. It would have been easy for us with all of the different things happening, some tough calls and everything else, to get away from our game."
"But the one thing I mentioned to our guys after the first period is that I didn’t want us to stop finishing our checks. I didn’t want us to get away from our game because this is what we are, and whether they’re good calls or they’re questionable calls, it didn’t matter."
"We just had to try and stay out of the box, and not get away from our game, and that’s what our guys are trying to do. So at one point you’ve got to trust that your game will get you where you want, and that’s what we’re doing right now."