BOSTON – For the first 11 minutes and change in Tuesday’s contest with the Devils, the Bruins were looking like a team that was continuing a downward spiral when Ilya Kovalchuk blasted his 27th of the year past Tim Thomas on the power play at 11:05. At that point, the Bruins were out-shot, 14-1, with 8:55 left in the opening stanza.
But in a turn of events the Bruins outworked and out-shot a desperate Devils team, 29-17, in the last 48 minutes plus en route to a 4-1 victory in front of another sellout crowd of 17,565 at TD Garden.
“By the end of the first period we started to get our legs moving and that was the difference,” said Thomas who made 30 saves on the night. “We started out a bit slow and they had a few shots and a few good chances. But they were also letting me see the puck a little bit more than we had in the last few games and then we got our feet taken over and then we started to take over for the rest of the game.”
Thanks to Shawn Thornton’s goal at 15:39, the Bruins seemed energized and took a 1-1 tie into the locker room during the first intermission.
“Looch did a great job being strong to the puck, [Tomas] Kaberle passed it over to [Dennis] Seidenberg and I just tried to get in front,” Thornton said about his ninth goal of the season. “Seider did a great job getting it towards the net, and it went in off me and went in.”
“It was a big goal,” added head coach Claude Julien. “I thought it was a good shot by Seidenberg but an even better job by Thorny to be right in front there with his stick. It was nice to see him get that goal there and it definitely calmed things down there. Coming out of the first period tied is much better than being down one goal, especially against that team.”
The Bruins carried over that momentum from the first period to the second as they outworked the Devils and created several chances on their second power play when Mark Fayne committed a tripping penalty 23 seconds in. Although they did not score on that man advantage, the B’s were moving the puck pretty well and were generating some shots on Brodeur.
Although the Bruins’ power play only went 1-for-5 on the evening, Zdeno Chara put the team ahead for good at 8:17 – nine seconds after Nick Palmieri went to the box for tripping – after firing a one-timer from the faceoff circle off a Tomas Kaberle (two assists) feed past Brodeur for his 13th of the season and his first of three points. Chara’s goal also marked the first time that the Black and Gold scored a 5-on-4 goal since February 18th in a 4-1 win over Ottawa.
“I thought we moved the puck well,” Kaberle said about the power play, which has gone 3-for-35 since his arrival. “We were on it during the last couple of practices and we were finally able to score and it made a big difference in the game.”
Much like he did in the first period, Thomas helped weather a Devils storm during the middle of the final stanza.
Late in that third period, Milan Lucic at 16:13 scored his 30th goal of the year and Mark Recchi added an empty netter to seal the victory at 19:20.
“Timmy did a great job keeping us in it,” Lucic said about Thomas’ performance. “I think we had to adjust when they were playing so tight…but then we kind of regrouped and settled down a bit and started making plays and having our defensemen jump in the play. I think that’s what opened it up a lot.”
Tuesday’s win could be a step in the right direction as it begun a stretch of eight home games in the last 11 of the 2010-11 season.
With their final meeting of the regular season coming Thursday against the Montreal Canadiens (who lost to Buffalo Tuesday), the Bruins are hoping to build off this much-needed win and create some more distance against their arch rivals in the Northeast division standings.
“It was a very nice win. We needed it,” Lucic said about the victory. “We needed a strong effort and we came up with it.”