Smith Plays Well, Bruins Top Pens in Ugly Affair

On a day on which Tyler Seguin scored three goals for the Stars, Loui Eriksson and his two linemates needed to step up against the Pittsburgh Penguins on home ice. After a discouraging outing against the Montreal Canadiens on Thursday, a game in which the Bruins second line combined for zero offensive output, the production is starting to scream ugly.

Eriksson, who recently went off for a 10 points in 11 games stretch, has fizzled, while linemate Brad Marchand has an abysmal 12 total points in 28 games played- this after leading the Bruins in goals scored last year.

On the eve of the July Fourth Seguin blockbuster, the second line needed to get it together after a below average start to the season.

And on Saturday, in what was an emotionally charged game in Boston, they kind of did.

Just under two minutes into the game, Eriksson got leveled on an open ice hit by Penguins defenseman Brooks Orpik- a regular on the delivering end.

Eriksson, who just recently returned from a concussion suffered on a devastating John Scott hit, was forced to the locker room after getting up wobbly.

The Bruins confirmed Eriksson suffered his second concussion in less than two and a half months, and it’s likely you wont see him back in the lineup for quite some time. 

After the game, Coach Claude Julien wouldn’t call the Orpik hit dirty, but he does hope both teams are penalized for their actions on Saturday.

“Right now, what’s going on, I think the League has to look into that stuff and as much as I’d like to give my opinion, I don’t think it’s a wise thing to do right now; have to let the people take care of it,” said Julien. “But I think that’s where it all started obviously and then it kind of escalated to the point where I don’t think anybody is proud of what’s happened in this first period; both sides I would hope.”

“It’s a real unfortunate situation but you know what? The only thing I’m going to say is let’s not just look one way here,” he said. “There’s a lot of blame to go around and we all have to take responsibility for that.”

Reilly Smith, who replaced Eriksson on the second line, tied the game at one after receiving a nifty drop pass from Patrice Bergeron and blasting it past Marc-Andre Fleury. The goal was Smith’s sixth of the season, extending his hot start to his Bruins career.

Then, goonery hit the TD Garden ice.

After James Neal appeared to knee a sprawling Brad Marchand in the head while skating back to the Pittsburgh bench, Shawn Thornton made possibly the worst decision of his rather clean career.

Taking exception to his previous actions, Thornton caught up with Brooks Orpik in a scrum and jumped him from behind, landing a few punches while he was down and knocking him out cold.

In an ugly scene, Thornton was ejected from the game while Orpik was taken off the ice on a stretcher.

Thornton will certainly be getting a call from the league’s department of player safety, likely receiving a 5-10 game suspension and deservedly so.

Visibly distraught, Thornton spoke to the media postgame about the incident. “I feel awful. It wasn’t my intention for that outcome,” he said. “I know Brooksy [Brooks Orpik]. I’ve gotten to know him over the last seven years here. I skate with him in the summer, through the lockout. I’ve texted him a couple times. I feel awful. It definitely was not what I wanted to see or anybody wanted to see.”

It was an ugly scene for both teams, but particularly the Bruins, adding to an already tainted reputation (fair or not).

As expected, in response to the Thornton-Orpik incident, the “nasty stuff” took a back seat to the real game.

While the Bruins were getting some golden chances, including an open-net miss for Smith on the power play, they were still lacking the offensive firepower, yet again.

Yes, they were down two forwards, but both the shots on goal and shots attempted totals have plummeted since the start of the season for the Bruins, an unsettling trend for a team who seemed to be somewhat past its “cannot score” days.

But then, just when you’re ready to count them out, with less than two minutes to go and the goalie pulled, eerily similar to Game seven of the Toronto series, the Bruins scored two quick goals giving them a powerful 3-2 win over the Penguins.

First it was David Klutch Krejci, who corralled a Milan Lucic pass from the behind the net and beat Fleury with a wrist shot in close; and then it was Smith (who played extremely well filling in for Eriksson), setting up Chara for the wicked wrister that gave the Bruins their first lead with only 13 seconds remaining in the game.

It was tarnished, but nonetheless an impressive victory for the Bruins on Saturday night, as they continue to show a tremendous will to win.

Julien announced after the game that Chris Kelly (along with Eriksson) will miss Sunday’s game against the Toronto Maple Leafs after suffering a lower-body injury against the Pens. Expect top prospects Ryan Spooner and Matt Fraser to both be in the lineup Sunday, hopefully energizing the Bruins forwards and contributing offensively; one, or both, could be here for the long haul.

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