After scoring seven times on the power play during the preseason, Bruins fans were anxious to see how the new look Bruins power play would perform as the team opened its 2013-14 campaign with a matchup against the Tampa Bay Lightning. With one game officially in the books, it’s the Bruins penalty kill that has the team, and its fans all fired up.
Not only did the Bruins kill off all five Lightning power plays, but they also managed two shorthanded goals during their 3-1 win over the Lightning, the teams’ third straight win on opening night.
Chris Kelly got things started for the Bruins with his shorthanded penalty shot goal. With Riley Smith in the box for hooking, Chris Kelly collected a loose puck, raced in all alone on Lightning goalie Anders Lindback and then was hooked by Mark Barberio which led to Kelly’s first penalty shot of his career.
Bergeron would go on to extend the Bruins lead to three later in the game when his shorthanded shot managed to sneak through the pads of Lindback.
All in all it was a great night for the Bruins penalty killers, a group that managed to kill off two five-on-three’s.
“Those 5-on-3’s, I thought the guys did a great job killing them” said Bruins head coach Claude Julien.
”Tuukka [Rask] made a couple of big saves when he had to. So those are really positive signs for our team and the fact that we were able to score a couple shorthanded goals as well. But again, it’s the first game, it’s the first game for a lot of those guys that were in the lineup tonight; real game I guess. Overall, happy with the win and we know we still have some work to do.”
The Bruins got off to a bit of a sloppy start in this one, but Kelly’s goal gave the Bruins momentum and the team took off from there.
“I kind of had an idea what I was going to do before. I try that move in practice but Tuukka [Rask] doesn’t move so, it ends up just going into his pad so it’s kind of deflating but I was happy he bit” said Kelly.
“He’s a big guy and to kind of shoot high he takes away a lot of the upper net so I just try to freeze him.”
A big part of the Bruins penalty kill success was their ability to keep the puck away from Steven Stamkos, who we all know is one of the league’s best, and an all-around dangerous sniper on the power play.
“Like you said, my goal and then the two – was it five-on-three? Tuukka [Rask] keeps us in there; the three penalty killers out there do a great job taking [Steven] Stamkos away” said Bruins forward Milan Lucic who scored the Bruins’ second goal of the evening.
“I don’t even know if they were even able to get it to him for the best one [timer] in the NHL. So, great job by the penalty killers and great job by Tuukka. They’re the biggest reason why we came out and won this game.”
The Bruins were very aggressive on the penalty kill Thursday night which helped result in two shorthanded goals and a few other scoring chances.
“Our first job is to kill the penalty but if those offensive chances do appear, I think you want to take them” added Kelly. “I thought Torey [Krug] did a great job joining on that two on one—to make it a two on one to give Bergy [Patrice Bergeron] an opportunity to make that move or pass it over.”
The Bruins have been among the league’s best in penalty killing the past several years and it seems like that will be the case again this season. Coach Julien is certainly happy with having plenty of options on the penalty kill.
“We’ve got some new guys in there. I think Loui Eriksson is a guy that can kill, [Jarome] Iginla can kill, David [Krejci] was killing as well. I think if anything we have more penalty killers this year than we did last year. So if we run into injuries or a few of those guys in the box I’m not going to be short up front anyways.”
The Bruins will look to continue their success on the power play Saturday night when they host the Detroit Red Wings.