BOSTON — As trade deadline additions last February, Chris Kelly and Rich Peverley provided the Bruins with defense and speed, respectively to help the Bruins in their Stanley Cup run. As a new addition via free agency — from Montreal — Benoit Pouliot is looking to fit in with his former archenemies.
As a line that was put together by head coach Claude Julien this month, Peverley, Kelly and Pouliot have gone beyond normal expectations from a normal third line and have provided the Bruins with a nice spark and have helped the Bruins bounce back from a 3-7 start to the 2011-12 season.
In Saturday’s game, the line, led by Kelly’s two second period goals, helped the Black and Gold overcome a 2-0 first period deficit against the Winnipeg Jets and helped the Bruins extend their unbeaten streak to 12 with their 4-2 win in front of the 99th consecutive sellout crowd of 17,565 at the TD Garden.
Trailing 2-0 after goals from Evander Kane (at 9:31 of the first) and Dustin Byfuglin (10:10) just 39 seconds apart, the Bruins were looking like a team that resembled the slow start instead of the one that’s been seen in the past few weeks. They were a step slower and found themselves out of position ultimately forcing Julien to use his timeout midway through the opening stanza.
“We had to get our feet moving a little bit,” Kelly said about the message during the timeout. “It looked like we were standing around a little bit and kind of watching the action. We just needed to do the little things better and get back to our game.”
A power play goal from Zdeno Chara at 16:38 however, helped the Bruins regain a little momentum heading into the first intermission.
“We needed to find a way to get back into the game and he provided us with that,” Julien said. “Like I said to the guys [during intermission] we have one goal now and we have two periods to get the next one so it was important for us to score in the end of that period.”
Coming out of the locker room for period two, the third line started to show its chemistry and take things over.
After Winnipeg goalie Ondrej Pavelec made an initial stop on a Peverley breakaway, Kelly came storming in for the loose puck on the rebound to tie the game at 2-2 at 7:28.
Kelly struck again nearly nine minutes later when he took a great feed from Pouliot and buried a one-timer past Pavelec — his ninth of the season — for the eventual game-winner at 16:26 capping off an eventful second period.
“I just happened to be at the right place at the right time,” Kelly said about his second period performance. “Rich is one of the better skaters in the league and he takes to the puck to the net like a lot of guys don’t and Benny [Pouliot] gave me a great pass on the second goal.”
Peverley, who tallied his 100th career assist on Kelly’s first goal, set up the play with his speed.
“He’s one of those guys that came in during the trade deadline last year and has added that element,” Julien said about Peverley. “He’s been very good for us this year in using his outside speed and even cutting to the net and scoring some goals. Tonight he cut to the net and did what he had to do and Kels [Kelly] was there on the spot.”
Pouliot, who had been in and out of the lineup as a healthy scratch, seems to be fitting in with his linemates.
“It feels good,” Pouliot said about being on the third line. “I’m just trying to play hard every night to stay in the lineup and work hard. Pevs [Peverley] and Kels make my job a lot easier too.
“They’re doing a great job for me and I just can’t say anything bad. Things are going great right now and its a matter of just being consistent every night.”
On a night where the top two lines recorded only two points — David Krejci with an assist on Chara’s power play goal and Brad Marchand’s empty netter late in the third period — the third line proved that the Bruins’ depth is still one of the best in the NHL.