After falling flat against the Montreal Canadiens Thursday night, the Boston Bruins wanted to flex their muscle against another rival of theirs five nights later.
Unlike the Habs game, the Bruins were able to flex those muscles alright against the Vancouver Canucks.
Behind a solid 27-save effort from Tuukka Rask, a good performance from the first line, and a physical style that was a little reminiscent of their seven-game series in 2011, the Black and Gold picked up a key 3-1 victory over their Western Conference rivals in front of the 195th consecutive sellout crowd of 17,565 at the TD Garden. Here are three takeaways from the win.
First line rolling
There’s no denying that any trio has their ups and downs throughout an 82-game season. The beauty of the Claude Julien system, though, is that he has the benefit of a deep roster. So when the top line struggles, the Bergeron line can pick up the slack. When they struggle, the top line is right there to help out – and not to forget the third and fourth lines have filled in admirably, too.
Lately, the trio of Milan Lucic, David Krejci and Jarome Iginla have been red hot. The three combined for five points Tuesday night en route to the Bruins’ 36th victory of the 2013-14 season.
“Everybody does go through some ups and downs and you want to keep the downs as short as possible,” Iginla said about playing with Lucic and Krejci this season.
“But, yeah I’ve really enjoyed working through with Krejch and Looch and we’ve had some stretches where we weren’t as sharp, but we’re a good team. You look at the team itself, sometimes all the lines are rolling, but its nice you look around and its different nights where one line is having a really good night. But the biggest thing of being a good team is being able to, where one guy or one line isn’t feeling it, the others are rolling. We’ve been fortunate enough to count on a lot of different guys…its definitely been a team game this year.”
Their night started with Iginla’s 600th career assist on Lucic’s 16th of the season at 5:12 of the first. It continued at 7:59 of the second when Iginla added his 16th of the year on the power play.
It ended with one of their best efforts of the season. And as this line keeps rolling – 18 points combined in their last five games – the Black and Gold keeps on winning.
Tuukka makes a game-changing save
When Lucic and Torey Krug collided at the Bruins’ blueline during the team’s third power play of the night, Daniel Sedin was in alone with what looked like had a recipe for disaster. Luckily, Tuukka Rask – who was pulled in the second period of the Bruins-Habs contest in his last appearance – was there to stone Sedin on a shorthanded breakaway to keep the game at 1-0 during the second period.
It wasn’t 1-0 for long, either. The Bruins quickly transitioned up ice and Iginla was able to slide his 16th goal of the season past Roberto Luongo to put the B’s ahead 2-0 at 7:59 of the middle stanza.
“Those are always game-changers and momentum-changers. You want to make that save more often than not,” Rask said. “Today it was good that I did, and we scored right after.”
Rask was solid throughout Tuesday’s contest, but that save on Sedin was a game-changer. Against Roberto Luongo, who made his first appearance at the TD Garden since the Stanley Cup Final, Bruins fans, who they once again taunted with “Luongo” chants throughout the evening, the Finnish netminder was certainly up to the task.
Johnny Boychuk displays his physical prowess
With captain Zdeno Chara set to go overseas and carry the Slovakian flag during the opening ceremonies in Sochi, Johnny Boychuk showed flashes of carrying the load for the next two games.
The 30-year old defenseman was the Bruins’ heaviest hitter Tuesday night. Just ask David Booth, who was on the receiving end of two of Boychuk’s hardest hits on the night.
It just so happens that Boychuk factored into the offense, too. His pass to Daniel Paille at the end of a long shift sent the Merlot Line winger on a breakaway, who slid the puck past Luongo for his eighth of the season at 17:06 of the middle stanza.
With Chara overseas, Boychuk will be the longest tenured player on the Bruins blue-line these next two games. There’s no denying he’ll have to have a similar effort if he, and the rest of the Boston Bruins, want to end the pre-Olympic slate on a high note.
Hear what the Bruins had to say following their 3-1 victory: