BOSTON — There have been many factors to the Boston Bruins’ slump in the post All-Star break. Lately one of those factors has been the team’s inability to get off to a good start during the first period.
Prior to Saturday’s St. Patrick’s Day tilt against the Philadelphia Flyers, the Black and Gold gave up the first goal in eight straight contests dating back to their 3-2 loss to the New York Islanders on March 3rd. In that span, the team was outscored 16-3 during the first 20 minutes.
Saturday, however, was a different story as the Bruins played to their strength and were rewarded with goals from Chris Kelly (his 17th of the year) and Tyler Seguin (his 25th) at 6:23 and 17:07 of the first period, respectively; ultimately leading a much-needed 3-2 shootout victory in front of the 120th sellout crowd of 17,565 at the TD Garden.
“It certainly set the tone for the game,” head coach Claude Julien said about his team’s start. “That’s what you wanted to do, and when you haven’t done that in a while, it gives you back a good feeling and certainly gives you some confidence.”
That confidence was just what the Bruins needed, especially when the Flyers benefited from a bit of puck luck to tie the game. Both Matt Read (his 20th at 9:16 of the second period) and Jakub Voracek (his 14th at 15:43 of the third) scored their goals off of deflections past Tim Thomas (27 saves) giving Philly both of its goals.
Despite the Flyers’ goals, however, the Bruins didn’t hang their heads and dug deep to earn the shootout win thanks to Patrice Bergeron’s winner and Thomas’ clutch save on Danny Briere to wrap things up.
“We just stayed with it,” said defenseman Dennis Seidenberg, who was reunited with Zdeno Chara as the top defensive pair Saturday. “It would have been easy for us to just hang our heads and kind of stop playing. But I think our mindset was good today. We wanted to win this game, and you saw they tied it up [but] we just kept going and kept getting chances and we scored in the shootout.”
“We fought hard and they got two deflections,” Chara said. “Those are always tough to prevent, but, like I said, that’s hockey. The most important thing is that we didn’t change our mindset. We had a great mindset today, and we got a great team win.”
Perhaps this game could be a turning point for the Bruins as they jump the Ottawa Senators — who host the Toronto Maple Leafs Saturday night — in the Northeast Division by one point for the time being.
With 11 games remaining, however, the grind continues for the Black and Gold when they welcome Toronto to the TD Garden on Monday before heading on their three-game California road trip against the San Jose Sharks, LA Kings and Anaheim Ducks.
“I think it’s a huge statement for us as a team,” Bergeron said about the win. “It’s a huge statement win for us, and we can obviously build on that — but it’s only one win.”
If anything, the Bruins once again showed their resiliency on Saturday. And, as we saw last year, that can go a long way.