What we learned: B’s overcome rough first period in Brooklyn
BROOKLYN, N.Y. — For the time being, the Boston Bruins are more comfortable playing on the road.
After blowing a two-goal lead to the Flyers in their 5-4 overtime loss Wednesday night at TD Garden — where they remain winless — the Black and Gold found themselves in another battle of adversity against the New York Islanders after trailing 2-1 in the first period. This time, they responded well and played some of their best hockey of the season during the second and third periods en route to a 5-3 victory on Friday night at the Barclays Center. Here are a few things we learned from the B’s third road win of the 2015-16 season.
Bruins overcame adversity
Following a rough first period that saw the Islanders flying and the Bruins caught in quicksand, the tables turned in the next two stanzas.
In the opening 20, the Bruins were outshot 18-8. The B’s defense was caught running around, which slowed down their transition game on the other end of the ice. But a few switches, sound defense and improved breakouts led to the Black and Gold scoring four unanswered goals as they overcame their first period struggles to get a good road win against a solid Isles squad.
“We were skating better and we countering their speed,” captain Zdeno Chara said about the changes in the second and third. “We made some adjustments in the neutral zone, we had cleaner breakouts and obviously we capitalized on some of their turnovers.”
“It’s good because it shows that if we stick to the system and we continue to play the way that we want to, that we can come back from different scores in the game,” added defenseman Torey Krug. “So it shows that if we just stick to it, it just proves that our system works.”
Claude Julien mixed success with his bottom-6
Through the early part of the season, the Bruins haven’t gotten many contributions from their third and fourth lines. Part of it has been due to new additions getting accustomed to one another, but that won’t excuse them from being outplayed, committing costly turnovers and other sloppy play that we’ve seen.
Once again, Julien saw his bottom six struggling, and the tipping point came when Spooner was outmuscled by Casey Cizikas in the first period that led to the Islanders’ second goal.
In need of a spark, Julien switched things up with his third and fourth lines putting Spooner on the fourth line with Joonas Kemppainen and Tyler Randell. Chris Kelly slid to the third line center role with Zac Rinaldo and Jimmy Hayes.
The makeshift lines came through. Spooner and Kemppainen combined for two of the four unanswered goals on the fourth line and the new third line of Hayes, Kelly and Rinaldo (who combined for 16 hits) wore down the Isles with their physical play.
“You got to give credit to those guys,” Julien said. “Zac [Rinaldo] went on the third line and Kels [Kelly] gave us some more experience at our own end. And then Spoons, you know, he went and played the wing on that line and he and Kemppainen did a really good job and scored some real important goals for us. So I give credit to the guys for playing so well and adjusting so quickly.”
Brett Connolly is finding a groove
Following his healthy scratch on the two-game road trip to Colorado and Arizona last week, Connolly has responded nicely. The 2010 first round pick has played the last two games with Brad Marchand and Patrice Bergeron and has scored two goals.
With two talented linemates in Marchand and Bergeron, Connolly is finding time and space to snap his nifty shots. More importantly, he’s finding a groove and helping his team in the process.
“Obviously when you find the net in consecutive games it’s good for your confidence,” said Connolly, who scored the Bruins’ first goal of the game at 9:51 of the first period. “[I’m] playing with two good players who are hard on pucks and are trying to get the puck back. For me, I just have to take advantage of it and I’ve done it so far and I got to keep working. You want to stay with those guys, they’re two good players and they’re guys who can help me a lot this year.”