Boston, MA -- A sold out crowd of 17,565 saw the Boston Bruins defeat the Atlanta Thrashers, 5-2, in a Monday afternoon matinée.
B's d-man Mark Stuart scored the game winner in the second period, while fellow defensemen Matt Lashoff scored his first NHL goal. Boston's Tim Thomas stopped 28 shots in goal to earn his eleventh victory of the year.
"One thing we did start doing well is we started getting pucks in deep...there were chips or cross-dumps and we got on top of them," said Julien after the win. "And we had a good net presence tonight. We were going at the net hard and our shots were going through and we made things happen."
When Bruins head coach Claude Julien said that he felt like it would be defense that would lead his club out of its doldrums, he probably didn't think that it would literally be his defensemen that would give the Black & Gold their first victory in seven games, but that was the case on Monday versus the Thrashers.
Entering a five game home stand, the B's began the game in the midst of a six game losing skid and out of playoff position. They would face Kari Lehtonen and his Atlanta Thrashers in the second game of a home-at-home series.
Lehtonen, who shut out the Bruins 5-0 on Saturday, hit TD Banknorth Garden ice as a bit of a bear hunter, with a 5-2-0 record and a 2.13 GAA against the Bruins during his career. At the opposite end of the rink, Thomas, a literal bear-hunter from Michigan, began the game 1-3-1 in his career against Atlanta.
Thomas and the B's came into the contest with an obvious chip on their proverbial shoulders, as the generally amiable goalie shoved Atlanta's Pascal Dupuis to the ice within seconds of the forward stepping into his crease.
Unfortunately, on a power play later in the first period, Thomas was beaten by Bobby Holik to put Atlanta up 1-0, at 9:18 and Mark Stuart's brother, Colin, scored his first NHL goal against his brother's team and put Boston down by two goals at 13:18.
Boston, who were unable to mount a sustained attack, were clearly on their heels as the buzzer sounded to end the first period.
"I was tired of losing, especially after that first period," said Julien. "You don’t want to see another night like that...It took us 20 minutes to figure (it) out.
"I was glad to see that.
"I think we took it to them again in the third and needed to be the better team for those last two periods," he said.
Boston won the second and the Bruins were able to pull themselves back into the game.
Atlanta's Lehtonen lost his stick in a scramble in front and Dennis Wideman smartly threw the puck on net. It found twine at 4:40 and made the score, 2-1.
Incidentally, Wideman's goal marked the 18,000th goal in Boston Bruins lore -- a total second only to the Montreal Canadiens in NHL history.
"That is absolutely great for the organization and the franchise," said Wideman. "Just shows how long this team has been around and how good they have been over the years."
P.J. Axelsson took a feed from Zdeno Chara to score his eighth of the season to score Boston's second goal at 5:14. New game, 2-2.
Boston rode that momentum through the middle of the session as Stuart, Boston's Stuart, scored against his brother's team to make the score 3-2 Boston at 9:40.
"We have been talking about and working on shots from the point," explained Stuart. "We were getting a lot of shots blocked so we started working on that in practice."
For the record, it was the second time this season that two brothers have scored against each other. Both games involved Atlanta -- the Hossa brothers (Marion and Marcel) turned the trick on December 7th when the Thrashers beat the New York Rangers, 4-2.
"It is kind of a weird feeling having your brother score on you," said Mark of Colin Stuart's goal. "Obviously I am happy for him, but we need to win.
"Tonight was good, he scored a goal and we still won."
Stuarts goal sent Boston to their locker room ahead, 3-2, at the end of the second.
Phil Kessel kept the B's on the winning track in the third period he he corralled a loose rebound in front of Lehtonen and put it through the Thrashers goalie at 2:05.
And finally, rookie defenseman Lashoff scored his first NHL goal at 6:37 -- a slap shot from the top of the face off circle to Lehtonen's right.
Lashoff's goal made the score 5-2 and helped snap the B's skid.
"It was good timing, too," said an obviously relieved Lashoff. "It was kind of an insurance goal.
"I remember toe-picking right before and I was kind of upset and...(Chara) made a nice pass.
"I just fired it."
Thomas summed up the win.
"In the dressing room before the game someone said we might be at the must win point," said Thomas. "And someone else said that we are at that point.
It could be a good turning point.
"We didn’t sit back on a lead in the third period while still playing sound defensively... You don’t want to get too high and you don’t want to get too low, but you have to take the positives," he said.
Boston next plays on Thursday against Washington.
· That was Boston's sixth multiple power play goal game of the season and their second game of the season with three power play goals (three-for-seven on October 12 at Los Angeles)
· Andrew Ference had two assists today, his third two-assist game in his last ten contests (also December 12 at Atlanta & December 20 vs. Pittsburgh).
· Zdeno chara had two assists today and now has 1-3-4 totals in his last five games.
· Glen Metropolit assisted on the game-winning goal today, extending his team-leading scoring on game-winning goals to 3-3-6 totals.
· Marc Savard had an assist today and now has five assists in his last six games with 3-6-9 totals in his last ten contests.
· P.J. Axelsson scored a goal today and now has 4-1-5 totals in his last six games.
· Phil Kessel scored a goal today and now has goals in two of his last three games after being held scoreless in his previous six contests.
· Tim Thomas allowed just two goals in today's 5-2 win, the 15th time in 23 complete games this season he has allowed two-goals-or-less … he now has a 9-4-2 record in those games.
· Thomas faced 30 shots today, the 15th time in 23 complete games this season he has faced 30-or-more shots in a game … he now has an 8-5-1 record in those games.
· Boston's Matt Lashoff and Atlanta's colin stuart both scored their first nhl goals in today's game.
· Lashoff became the third bruin to score his first NHL goal this season, as Milan Lucic scored hs first tally on October 12 at Los Angeles and Jeremy reich tallied his first NHL score on December 15 vs. Columbus.