There were two things that hadn’t happened for a very long time for the Boston Bruins heading into their game with the Tampa Bay Lightning Saturday night – a goal by their second line winger Reilly Smith and a win when trailing by two or more goals.
Well, last night at Tampa Bay Times Forum, the Black and Gold accomplished both feats. The Bruins trailed 2-0 early on, but clawed their way back into it forcing overtime eventually winning in a shootout (4-3) on a goal by Smith in the seventh round. Daniel Paille, Carl Soderberg and Johnny Boychuk each scored for the B’s in regulation.
The real story of the night was Smith playing the hero. He hadn’t scored a goal since January 28th against the Florida Panthers – a span of 11 games for the 22 year-old. He still is having an unexpected 2014 campaign netting 18 goals with 26 assists which ranks him fourth on the team in points (44).
You could see he was beginning to press a little leading up to Saturday night’s game. That’s when head coach Claude Julien dropped him to the fourth line, but later in the game he was reunited with Patrice Bergeron and Brad Marchand-two players who are more than capable of helping Smith get out of a funk.
As the score remained tied 3-3 at the end of regulation and overtime, the B’s looked to earn their first win of the season when trailing by two goals or more.
During the shootout after Julien sent out the likes of Bergeron, Eriksson, Soderberg, Iginla, Marchand and Krejci, he had a gut feeling that Smith could regain his confidence with a goal on Lightning goaltender Ben Bishop.
“I went through a different number of players and then sometimes and I say it many times, you get that gut feeling and I said, ‘you know what, this is probably a good chance for Smitty to get himself going,’” Julien said to reporters after Saturday’s win.
Even though Smith lost control of the puck for a split second, he snuck one past Bishop to send the B’s home with a win.
Julien knows Smith was struggling the past month or so, but hopes this goal builds his confidence in which he had earlier on in the season when he was scoring in bunches.
“I even told one of my assistant coaches, it’s going to end here and he scored a big goal for us,” Julien said. “So hopefully that’s a lot of weight off his shoulders and hopefully he can start finding his stride again.”
Smith may have scored the game-winner in the shoot out, but he is just glad to get the monkey off his back and the give his team the two points.
“Yeah, it’s been a while,” Smith said. “At the end of the day, it’s good to just help the team get an extra point on that.”
Smith’s heroics wouldn’t have been possible if it wasn’t for his teammate Tuukka Rask saving all seven attempts he faced during the shootout.
Smith hopes this shootout goal puts him back into early season form where he and his line mates were just as productive as the scorching first line for the Black and Gold. He has a chance to start another point streak Sunday night when the B’s, who look to take over first place in the Eastern Conference standings, head nearly 250 miles south to face the Panthers.