Less than 24 hours from the National Hockey League trade deadline, the Boston Bruins looked to score the first goal of the game for first time since the Olympic break against the Florida Panthers. It finally came into fruition as they jumped out to a 2-0 lead after the first period and never looked back en route to a 4-1 victory.
David Krejci notched his fifth career hat trick and Chad Johnson made 23 saves for his 12th victory of the year
Here are three takeaways from the Bruins 39th win of the season.
1. Bruins get out to quick start and don’t look back
The B’s finally got out to that quick start that they desperately needed after falling behind in each of their three games since returning from the Olympic break.
Luckily for the Black and Gold they had the Florida Panthers (23-31-7) on the docket to get back on track. Early goals from David Krejci and Jarome Iginla in the first period were more than enough for the B’s.
Head Coach Claude Julien was happy with his team’s fast start compared to the last three games, but admits there is still work to be done defensively.
“A little bit yeah, but I still thought defensively we got to tighten up some more and you know, I felt the second period wasn’t a very good period for us,” Julien said. “We came out a little bit better in the third and you know overall, it’s a good game, but you know, where we want to be and the type of team we want to be also is, we have to be a little bit better defensively. Too many-too many good scoring opportunities and too many defensive breakdowns.”
The Panthers simply could not stop David Krejci. Krejci was a man on a mission Tuesday night scoring as his hat trick handed the Panthers their fifth loss in their last six games.
These are the teams that you must get fast starts against and that’s exactly what the B’s did. Krejci like Julien liked the start from his team, but knows there are things to be worked on before the playoffs begin.
“First period, I thought it was a really good period for our team,” Krejci said after recording third career regular season hat trick. “Second, we kind of got away from our game, but got a 3-0 lead in the third period. I thought we played okay with the lead, but there’s still some areas of our game we need to improve.”
2. First line continues to sizzle for the Black and Gold
What more can you say about the Bruins first-line? They have been unstoppable lately and on Tuesday, combined for six points (four goals and two assists) to go along with a plus-8 rating.
Krejci was the star of the night with three goals while Jarome Iginla netted a goal and an assist while Milan Lucic added an assist of his own.
In Krejci’s last 15 games, he has recorded seven goals and 12 assists. Iginla has six goals and 13 assists in his last 12 games while Lucic has six goals and eight assists in his last 12 games. A top line that is performing at a top notch level.
Although the line is simply on fire, Krejci is still striving for perfection with his line mates as he explained after the B’s second straight win.
“Like I said, I still feel there’s some stuff we have to improve, especially on our defensive side,” Krejci said. “But on the other hand, the puck is going in the net for us the last few games. We got to keep that going, but at the same time just go out there and take care of our own end first and go from there.”
Their line is fun to watch right now. They are creating many scoring opportunities for one another while capitalizing on most of them like tonight.
Krejci registered seven shots on goal Tuesday while Lucic’s fore checking game has been noticeably outstanding as of late. Iginla’s net front presence and knack for the goal has helped this line be productive.
It seems as if every single night this line is stuffing the stat sheet. Teams can’t stop them at the moment. They only hope to contain them.
Krejci, Iginla and Lucic now have 55, 48,and 46 points on the season respectively to round out the top three on the squad through 61 games.
3. Chad Johnson bounces back nicely after debacle in Buffalo
There was much talk surrounding how the B’s will manage Tuukka Rask and Chad Johnson moving forward. Johnson proved to the team before the Olympic break that he is more than capable of handling the duties, but in his first game back against Buffalo last week, he struggled badly allowing five goals to the lowly Sabres.
Facing the Panthers in his second start out of the break, Johnson bounced back beautifully stopping 23 of 24 shots on the night, earning his 12th victory on the year.
He wasn’t bombarded with shots like Rask was in the first period versus the Rangers, but he stood tall when he had to, making a handful of tough saves.
Johnson now owns a 12-3-1 record while owning a 2.23 goals against average in 19 games played in.
Even though he made his start versus the Panthers, Johnson knows it is the National Hockey League and any team is capable of beating any team.
“Yeah, teams bring their best against us and that’s something when I signed here that I was excited about because I knew every game that I played was going to be a tough challenge,” Johnson said. “Teams were going to come in and be excited to play us and it’s just fun to be a part of.”
Johnson wasn’t the sharpest in Buffalo during his first start back from the break, but neither was his team. With four games in the books since the break, Johnson likes where his team is heading after the past few games.
“I think we’re gelling more and we’re kind of getting that chemistry back and we’re sticking to our game plan a lot more consistently throughout the game,” Johnson said. “You’re going to see better results because of that. Yeah, it’s nice just get everybody back on the same page and see that and get good results.”
Johnson has been consistent most of the season. The game versus Buffalo was a minor bump in the road while his performance versus the Panthers was more like it. He will be used a little bit more down the stretch to rest Rask before the playoffs and he is more than capable of keeping the Black and Gold in most games if not all of them.