Thanks to a slump that saw the Boston Bruins drop three out of four, including two games against some of the league’s best in the Anaheim Ducks and L.A. Kings, people were questioning how good the Bruins really are. But thanks to a very entertaining shootout loss to the defending Stanley Cup Champions, the Bruins proved their still among the best in the National Hockey League.
Despite two goals from Brad Marchand and 35 saves from Tuukka Rask, the Chicago Blackhawks got the best of the Bruins in front of a crazy United Center crowd via a 3-2 shootout win.
“We were really happy with our effort, our P.K. [penalty kill] did a really good job, especially on that four on three there [in overtime]. Tough loss there, but we got to be happy with a lot of things there” said Marchand after he scored his 13th and 14th goals Sunday.
Even though they failed on securing the extra point that was up for grabs in overtime, Marchand was pleased with being able to light the lamp twice against the Blackhawks.
“Yeah, I mean it’s always nice to get a couple” said Marchand who failed to register a point in the six game Stanley Cup Final against the ‘Hawks last season.
“But you know I wasn’t worried about me trying to redeem myself for the finals or anything like that. Big game for our team and we really need those points right now, and yeah, a couple of lucky plays.”
Things didn’t start off too well for the Bruins as Marian Hossa’s third goal in two games got Chicago on the board first just 4:13 into the game, but back-to-back goals by Marchand to end the first, and start the second shifted momentum to the Bruins side.
A very weak goal by Brandon Bollig, knotted things at two midway through the second period and set up what was a very entertaining third period. Bollig’s shot from the corner of the ice, along the goal line somehow managed to find its way through Rask and into the back of the net.
“Good question” said Rask when asked how the puck went it.
“I had the post covered, my skate was there, I was ready, and somehow it went over.”
Shootout goals by Jonathan Toews, and Patrick Kane were all the Blackhawks needed to take home the extra point in the shootout. But even though it sits as a loss in the standings, head coach Claude Julien was happy with the performance of his team
“Yeah I thought we played a really good game. Win or lose I don’t put too much emphasis on the shootout because that goes down to individuals, but as a game, I think it was a great game. I thought both teams played well, both teams competed hard and I thought it was pretty even of a game” stated Julien.
Sunday’s tilt with the Blackhawks was a big test for the Bruins, and even though the game didn’t end the way they would have like, the Bruins passed their big test.
Take away the first five minutes, and the Bruins skated right with the Blackhawks for the entire game. If the Bruins were able to capitalize on a handful of their golden opportunities,—hello Gregory Campbell—we would undoubtedly be talking about a different end result.
All in all, Sundays Stanley Cup Final rematch lived up to the hype, and delivered the message to the rest of the league that the Bruins are indeed still among the league’s best.
“I thought it was a real good test as far as our team is concerned, with the way we’ve played lately, we’ve gotten better. Tonight was another step in the right direction, again, real happy with the effort” added Julien.
As the Bruins head into a stretch where five of their remaining nine games before the Olympic break are against current playoff teams, Sunday’s confidence booster could not have come at a better time for a Bruins team who now has points in three of their last four.
“Yeah definitely, you always, you want to be as consistent as you possibly can and lately I think consistency hasn’t been our strength and after that game against Toronto we wanted to come out hard against Dallas and start building from the start. You know two good games so far, so we have to keep that going and not take those steps back anymore.”
The Bruins will have their chance to keep moving forward rather quickly as the those very same Kings that defeated the Bruins in Los Angeles two weeks ago comes to town for a Monday matinée at TD Garden.