The Bruins showed the extreme versions of their dual selves in the first two periods last night in Sunrise, Florida. In the first, they scored 34 seconds in and jumped out to a 4-1 lead when Patrice Bergeron’s two goals sandwiched tallies from David Pastrnak and Brett Connolly. The Bs were flying while putting 16 shots on net as they chased old friend Roberto Luongo, who was replaced by Al Montoya after the first, and looked well on their way to two big points. Tuukka Rask saw 16 shots as well but stopped all but one when he was beat by Aleksander Barkov. But the three-goal lead is the new two-goal lead when it comes to the most dangerous in hockey.
In the second, the Bruins tried to sit on their lead but instead saw it reduced by two as they reverted back to the scatter-brained, defensively inept squad that has been their Achilles’ heel this season. The game appeared to swing 1:20 into the second when former teammates Adam McQuaid and Shawn Thornton squared off after Thornton took exception to McQuaid taking some liberties with Quinton Howden. After jostling with each other for several seconds, Thornton got some lefts in on the Bruin to take the bout on points but didn’t cause any real damage.
For the rest of the second we saw blown coverages. There were some ugly puck transfers between defensemen and the goalie. They were outshout 18-5 in the period and looked nothing like the confident and capable squad of the first period. But thanks to some huge Rask saves, the Bs still had a lead going into the third on the road and were 20 minutes from an important win.
Florida was getting the better chances as well as higher-quality chances in the final frame and Bs fans could sense the impending doom because we’ve seen this movie so many times. With the Bruins less than five minutes from victory, newly-acquired Panther Jiri Hudler potted his second of the game when he pounced on the rebound of a point shot that Rask had no chance on. Sigh. Now the Bs had to be careful to really not blow it and cost themselves a loser’s point.
Alas, they were able to get to overtime. After four minutes of the extra session, the newly-acquired Lee Stempniak capped off a fantastic night (1G, 2A) with a sick snipe off a Ryan Spooner feed to give the Bruins the 5-4 win and a huge two points. Because of the win, the Bs now have a chance to take sole possession of first place if they beat Tampa Bay in regulation tonight. It may have been ugly but two points is two points.
A few more buds for you bowl…
*Congratulations once again to Claude Julien. He passed NHL legend Art Ross to become the Bruins all-time regular season wins leader and further cemented his case as the best coach in the franchise’s 92 year history. And what he’s done so far this year might be one of his most impressive accomplishments. Picked by many to whiff on the playoffs again, Julien has the Bruins making a run at the #2 seed in the East by getting the most from a roster that’s not considered a contender (today). Again, he should get serious consideration for the Jack Adams for his work this year.
*Watching McQuaid vs. Thornton was like watching two of your good buddies square off. You’re curious to see what happens but don’t really want to see anybody catch a beating.
*Once again, Rask was a monster in the pipes stopping 47 of 51 shots. Every Florida goal was scored by an uncovered guy out front, two off rebounds and two off passes. This save was the best of the bunch…
*The 44-year-old wonder Jaromir Jagr passed Gordie Howe on the NHL’s all-time points list when he assisted on Barkov’s 1st period tally. Incredible to be witnessing this history happening on our watches.
*Stempniak has fit right in with Brad Marchand and Patrice Bergeron and has apparently solved the right-wing issue on that line. The former Devil has a goal and five assists in his last three games after going pointless in his first as a Bruin. John-Michael Liles has been a nice add so far and he also assisted on the OTGWG.
*Bergeron nudged closer to a 30-goal season by scoring his 27th and 28th goals in the first period.
*The Bs went 0/2 on the power play and 1/4 on the penalty kill.
*Noel Acciari notched his first career NHL point when he assisted on Connolly’s ninth of the year.