Bruins Breakdown: Third Line Production

He may have aged a bit since his last stint with the Bruins, but Brian Rolston is certainly playing like a 30 year old again. After notching just four goals and five assists totaling for nine points in 49 games with the Islanders, Rolston has registered three goals, nine assists, totaling for 12 points in just 15 games with his new team. He is currently on a six game scoring streak and has three goals and four assists in that stretch.

Since rejoining the beloved black and gold, Rolston has been the veteran spark plug this team has been looking for. Once finding his role on the third line playing alongside Chris Kelly and Benoit Pouliot, the trio has produced points in each of their last five games, and the Bruins have won four of those contests.

Tim Thomas squared off against Dwayne Roloson in net, as the Tampa Bay Lightning played their second game in as many nights, after defeating the Flyers last evening in Philadelphia.

Tampa Bay got on the board first as a turnover by Milan Lucic, and errant pinch by Zdeno Chara gave sniper Steven Stamkos an open look- who buried the wrist shot past Thomas for the goal. Stamkos has been making the most of his opportunities this season, as the goal was his 54th of the season, which leads the entire NHL.

Chara quickly made up for his previous error, as he took the puck from Tampa’s blue-line in, dangling around defenders while skating strong to the net. Chara’s initial shot was denied by Roloson’s right leg pad, but Shawn Thornton slammed home an easy rebound for the goal. It was unbelievable rush by Chara, who is playing like a man on a mission in his 1,000th career NHL game.

It was a quiet first period for the third line offensively, but that doesn’t mean they weren’t doing their job. The line played sound defensively in the first, which is important when squaring off against a fast-pace team like Tampa, who can score goals in bunches; defense always comes first in Boston, especially under Coach Claude Julien’s system.

Six minutes into the second period Tampa Bay was given their first power-play of the game, as Brad Marchand went to the box for a cross-checking. Paired up with David Krejci as the forwards on one PK unit, Rolston did a tremendous job limiting the Tampa chances, and keeping shots to the outside. Chris Kelly, who’s game is scarily similar to that of P.J. Axelsson, had another productive PK shift of his own.

While playing four on four hockey, Tyler Seguin and David Krejci moved the puck magically in the offensive zone, worked it back to Chara who blasted a one-timer towards the Tampa net. A juicy rebound laid there for defenseman Dennis Seidenberg who rushed towards the net and slammed it home for his fourth goal of the season.

“Stammer” did it again, as Stamkos netted his second goal of the game, this one coming on the power-play, a rocket of a one-timer giving him is 55th tally of the season.  The bruins had been dominating much of the game, but playing disciplined hockey is key against a team with a lethal power-play like Tampa.

Sound defensive hockey isn’t the only thing the Bruins third line can do, as Benoit Pouliot netted the third Bruins goal of the game to regain the lead. Chara took a shot from the point and the rebound found its way to Rolston, who attempted a wrap around from behind the Tampa goal. This pulled Roloson way out of the position, and the puck squirted free to Pouliot who scored on the open net.

Brad Marchand then scored on a wicked wrist shot through traffic to extend the boston lead to 4-2. Patrice Bergeron and Seguin helped set up Marchand on the play. The goal was Marchand’s 26th of the season.

Rich Peverley added an empty-netter, and the Bruins won 5-2. They are now on a three game winning streak, and look to be building momentum at the perfect time.

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