BOSTON — As solid as Johnny Boychuk has been on the blue-line, the Bruins defenseman always seems to step it up a notch when he faces the Buffalo Sabres.
Thursday night was no exception as Boychuk — despite being victim of an unlucky bounce in the game’s first goal scored by Sabres forward Jason Pominville at 16:39 of the first — laid a couple of nice hits on Nathan Gerbe (in the first period) and perennial Bruins killer Thomas Vanek (in the third), while also tallying the game-winner at 12:56 of the final stanza to give the Black and Gold a 3-1 win and their second straight victory — for the first time since Jan. 12 — in front of a sellout crowd 17,565 at the TD Garden.
“He’s been steady all-year long,” Bruins coach Claude Julien said about Boychuk. “I think he was a little disappointed in the first goal against that he got his shot blocked and gave the Sabres an opportunity to take the lead, so he redeemed himself extremely well the rest of the way; good hits, great shots, good heads up play and he a was pretty solid defenseman for us tonight.”
While he fell victim of that unlucky bounce in the first, Boychuk took advantage of some puck luck for his game-winner. After a shot hit a Sabre defenseman, Jordan Caron gathered the puck and fed it to Boychuk who fired one of his trademark’s Johnny Rockets past Sabres goalie Jhonas Enroth, who made 25 saves in the losing effort.
“It was just like a scramble play and I saw the puck coming through and I just decided I’ll go down and try to rip it home,” Boychuk said about the game-winner.
“I was aiming of course. I hit him [Enroth] in the belly a couple of times [tonight] and one went through him so you know, try to just put it on top.”
In a game where the Bruins needed some secondary scoring Boychuk provided just that while also giving his team a little bit of energy on his hit on Vanek.
“I saw a guy coming back so I could pinch down and I could see that he wasn’t really paying attention too much,” Boychuk said about his hit on Vanek. “I just wanted to make sure it was a clean hit. The fans gave us a little boost and we took it from there.”
Boychuk’s play was part of a team effort from start to finish and was something the Bruins needed after a stretch of mediocre hockey over the past two months.
On top of Boychuk’s performance, Gregory Campbell gave his team a much-needed lift when he tied the game at 1-1 with 1:51 left in the second. David Krejci gave his team insurance at 15:54 of the third with his 18th of the season.
“It goes to show that when all lines [click] and we play all 60 and we’re committed to the game then we come in waves,” said forward Milan Lucic, who tallied the primary assist on Krejci’s goal. “It was huge [the secondary scoring]. The last couple of games we’ve had some guys step up and get some goals and I think that’s what helped us get these two wins put together.”
Moreover, that second win in a row was a long time coming and the Black and Gold hope this is something they can build on with a month left in the 2011-12 season.
“It’s been over a month now for us to string back-to-back wins together,” Boychuk said. “It helps our confidence as a team because we have been playing real well the last couple of games, and stringing together a couple of wins here was critical for us.”