After a dismal 2-1 loss to the Montreal Canadiens, Boston Bruins head coach Claude Julien wasn’t done sending messages. Much to the dismay of Bruins fans everywhere, Julien once again shuffled up his line combinations in an attempt to steer an offense back on track that’s only produced two goals over the last 120 minutes.
Say what you want about the coaching style Julien deploys but one thing is for certain; only Julien knows the pulse of his locker room. On Monday night at the TD Garden, it was transparent Julien’s recent antics didn’t fall on deaf ears.
Led by a two-goal explosion in the opening eight minutes of play and three goal first period outburst, the Bruins thoroughly trounced the Carolina Hurricanes, 6-2, in front of the 146th consecutive sellout crowd of 17,565 at the Garden.
The Hurricanes actually opened up the first period with an offensive flurry, but once again Tuukka Rask (40 saves) stood tall and weathered the storm, including the save of the night on a sprawling kick-save on Carolina’s Zac Dalpe.
The Bruins saw the return of center Chris Kelly (broken tibia) to the lineup and quickly got on the board on a wraparound goal by Rich Peverley, who followed up his initial shot that ricocheted off the glass before Hurricanes goaltender Justin Peters could cover the far post.
“It’s been a tough season but there’s 10 games left,” said Peverley, who found the back of the net for the first time since March 16. “Hopefully I can build off this and get ready when it matters most,”
Following up the Peverley goal about four minutes later was Brad Marchand, who followed up a weak rebound left by Peters on a wraparound attempt by new centerman, Gregory Campbell.
After surrendering two goals on four shots, Hurricanes coach Kirk Muller quickly ended Peters’ night in goal by sending out Dan Ellis in relief. Also flanked on the right wing by Jaromir Jagr, the newly-formed second line of the Black and Gold routinely dominated the Hurricanes defensemen throughout the night, who had no answer to the creative cycling schemes from the trio. Marchand closed out the first period scoring with his second of the game and 16th of the year after firing home a backhand attempt on the rebound left behind by Ellis on a Jagr wraparound attempt.
Even with the 3-0 lead, it was still blatantly apparent the Bruins still had a lot of work to do in correcting defensive deficiencies after surrendering 18 shots-on-goal in the first period. The Black and Gold still allowed 12 second period shots, but looked better defensively, compared to their efforts in the first frame.
“We need to do a better job at taking opposing teams’ time and space away,” Kelly said. “We are over thinking it at times out there instead of reacting and jumping on them to closing that gap as quick as possible.”
Meanwhile, the Hurricanes continued their defensive and goaltending struggles against Boston’s offensive contingent, who surrendered their fourth goal of the night a little under four minutes of the second period on a Seidenberg shot from the point which bounced off Andrew Ference who cemented a screen in front of Ellis.
Trailing by four, Muller started rushing in a defenseman on offensive neutral zone breakouts but every scoring chance was quickly turned aside by Rask, which often resulted in two-on-one opportunities for the B’s at the other end. Finishing off the second period scoring with his first goal of the season was Jordan Caron on a rebound opportunity left behind by a Peverley wrist shot, which initially was setup on a beautiful drop pass from Shawn Thornton to stretch the lead to 5-0 through two periods of play.
“Pevs made a good play in support, a good shot and obviously the puck bounced out on the rebound, I couldn’t find it,” Thornton said. “It was spinning around in my feet, but Jordy did a good job of bearing down and putting it in.”
With pride laying on the line, the Hurricanes ratcheted up their play over the final 20 minutes, resulting in two goals over a 45-second span from Patrick Dwyer and Drayson Bowman to cut the deficit down to 5-2 with a little under half a period to play. However, with about three minutes remaining in the third, Nathan Horton extinguished any comeback hopes of the Hurricanes when he redirected a Dougie Hamilton snap pass from the top of the faceoff circle past a fallen Ellis to secure the victory.
“We’re a good team when we do it by committee, I know we’ve said that the last few years but it takes everyone and everyone wants to chip in to make it easier on everyone else,” said Thornton.
With the win, the Bruins improve to 25-9-4 but remain in second place in the Northeast Division and fourth overall in the Eastern Conference with 54 points, trailing only the Montreal Canadiens by one point for the divisional lead. Next up for the Black and Gold is a date down in New Jersey with a Devils team hoping to see the return of superstar forward Ilya Kovalchuk, who returned to practice for the first time in about a month this morning.