This is what a good 60 minutes looks like.
For most of the season, the Boston Bruins were inconsistent when it came to compiling a 60-minute effort. But that’s what they got in Game 3 as the Black and Gold swung the momentum back in their favor with a 5-2 victory over the Toronto Maple Leafs in the first playoff game at the Air Canada Centre in nine years.
“We had all four lines going tonight, all six defensemen and Tuukka [Rask],” forward Rich Peverley told the NHL Network. “So it was good.”
Coming off a 4-2 loss to the Leafs in Game 2 – without Andrew Ference, who was serving a one-game suspension – the Bruins had to find a way to regain momentum. It’s safe to say now that momentum is back on their side.
As Peverley stated, the Bruins had all four lines going. His line with Jaromir Jagr and Chris Kelly played their best hockey of the postseason and really provided a spark in the second period with Peverley’s first of the playoffs at 5:57. The goal was set up by Jagr’s nifty pass in front.
And then there was the top line of Milan Lucic, David Krejci and Nathan Horton. All three had their struggles in the regular season, but the trio delivered another solid performance in the series. Horton (at 14:35 of the second) and Krejci (adding an empty netter late in the third) each scored their third and second goals of the playoffs, respectively, while Lucic tallied three assists and three hits.
Highlighted by Daniel Paille’s shorthanded goal, the Merlot Line provided the Bruins with energy throughout the contest, while the second line of Patrice Bergeron, Tyler Seguin and Brad Marchand – despite not finding the scoresheet – also had a solid performance.
What did all four lines have in common? They went back to playing Black and Gold hockey: getting pucks deep in the greasy areas and keeping their game simple.
The Bruins surely needed that two days after a less than mediocre performance.
“I think we had to get back to playing simple hockey,” Peverley added on NHL Network. “That’s what is usually best for us. We were chipping pucks in and I think we weren’t doing that in Game 2 enough. And I think holding the puck down low and we used our size and I think the guys did a really good job of doing that tonight.”
At times, Boston found themselves playing on their heels, particularly after ex-Bruin Phil Kessel made it 4-2 with a power play goal early in the third. But another strong performance from Tuukka Rask (45 saves) and a solid defense in front of him helped weather the Leafs storm.
Additionally, Horton’s second period goal shifted the momentum back into the Bruins’ favor just 50 seconds after Leafs defenseman Jake Gardiner netted his first career playoff goal, also on the power play.
“They scored a big goal, and the fans were into it, and you could feel the electricity in the air,” said head coach Claude Julien. “To me that was the big turning point is to score that goal and take the energy right out of the building. From then on we had better control for the rest of that period.
“We had a decent cushion going into the third period and we just had to finish strong,” Julien added. “This is a team that no matter what I’ve said before, they’re a good team and they are giving us a real good challenge. And it showed in the third.”
Building off a victory hasn’t come easy for the Black and Gold. They have not won two straight since defeating the Hurricanes and Devils back in early April.
A similar performance with all four lines contributing, however, can certainly change that. And if that’s the case, then the B’s could very well have a chance to clinch the series back in Boston for Game 5 Friday night.
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