On Monday evening the Boston Bruins (17-9-6) squared off against the Toronto Maple Leafs (17-12-3) at the TD Garden. The Bruins were looking for revenge in the second game of a home and home series, having lost to the Leafs 3-2 on Saturday night. The Bruins, losers of three of their last four, have been looking for something to ignite their offense. Having only scored six goals in the past four games, Coach Claude Julien has mixed up the lines in hopes of finding some pairing or line that will result in some offensive chemistry.
“I think there’s times where the effort is there; maybe the mental aspect of your game isn’t there. Some other times, you’re working hard, but it doesn’t mean you’re working smartly. Other games maybe we needed a better effort. So, it was a combination of a lot of things,” Julien said in response to the line changes.
Besides the lack of offense, the Bruins have also been plagued with third period collapses. What was once the hardest team to score against in the final frame of a game, the Bruins have recently blown four third-period leads.
“What is disappointing is that right now we’re not playing the type of game we should,” added Julien. “Tonight, if we’re mad, we’ve got to be mad at ourselves for not playing our game and going out there being a little bit more hungry. Hopefully, our work ethic and the talent that we feel we have on our team will take over.”
The first period saw a lot of missed passes and mistimed plays as the new lines struggled to gel. The most consistent line consisted of Brad Marchand and Nathan Horton centered by David Krejci. The new first line had a couple scoring chances at the beginning of the period but Toronto goaltender James Reimer turned away every shot he saw leaving the Bruins frustrated and scoreless after the first.
Toronto winger Joffrey Lupul put the Leafs up 1-0 with a power play goal just 2:04 into the second period. Nikolai Kulemin’s breakaway goal would give Toronto a 2-0 lead as he beat Bruins’ netminder Tuukka Rask blocker side. The Bruins would finally get on the board when Rich Peverley collected a loose puck and hit a streak Milan Lucic who deked Reimer and buried the puck for his fifth goal of the season. Boston would go into the locker rooms down 2-1 at the end of two.
“Usually it’s not a pretty one that gets you out of your slump,” Lucic replied when asked about his goal. “It was starting to get frustrating going as long as I did without a goal. You keep trying so many different things and keep pushing and pushing. When things aren’t working you start second guessing yourself. My game is pretty simple so it doesn’t really matter who I play with. I play a certain way, I play the same way no matter who I play with.”
Julien must’ve felt that the message was received by his team because the Bruins went back to lineups of old. Patrice Bergeron, skating with Marchand and Tyler Seguin, tied the game when he beat Reimer high with on a backhand shot. An overtime shootout would be needed to decide a winner as the two teams were tied at two apiece at the end of regulation and after the five minute overtime period.
Seguin and Bergeron would score for the Bruins and Rask would stop two out of three shots to earn the shootout victory and more importantly a morale booster.
“We had a lot of great chances and just kept battling through it,” Bergeron said. He quickly added, “I finally found the back of the net and came out with those two big points.”