BOSTON — It seemed almost storybook the way Game 4 unraveled.
Rich Peverley was called up to replace an injured Nathan Horton on the first line with David Krejci and Milan Lucic. Insert media questioning how he would stand up to the challenge, a crowd that was infused with the energy from hockey legend Bobby Orr starting pregame traditions, and Peverley, who was expected to perform equally as well as a record setting superstar.
No pressure, right? Not by the looks of it. In fact, Peverley not only matched expectations, but he exceeded them.
With two goals in the Bruins 4-0 win over the Vancouver Canucks, he was greeted with more than just cheers from the crowd. When he returned to the locker room, his concussed teammate Horton was there to pass on the 80’s-inspired jacket–an item given to the player of the game.
In Monday night’s game, the night Horton was hit by Canuck defenseman Aaron Rome, the players collectively decided to place the tradition-filled jacket in Horton’s locker and keep it there for the remainder of the series. However, Horton wished to carry on the tradition and be the one to hand it off to his replacement, Peverley, not alerting his intentions to any of his teammates .
“Yeah, we didn’t know he was coming in, he was behind the curtain over there and everyone saw him and were really excited and started yelling and clapping for him,” Peverley said. “He said that he was really happy with the guys and really proud of how everyone played. Nobody has seen him since everything happened. So to be able to see him and look at him and have a smile on his face and know he’s healthy is important to us.”
Peverley took the bull by the horns and proved early on that he could step up and be the player the Bruins needed. He scored the ever important first goal of the game, with eight minutes left in the first period. Krejci made a thread-the-needle pass to Peverley through the neutral zone and Peverley shoved it through Vancouver goaltender, Roberto Luongo’s five hole to give the Bruins the early lead.
“It was a nice play by [David] Krejci and I tried to gain a lot of speed,” Peverley said. “I just tried to get a five-hole snuck through.”
Early in the third, Peverley struck again, this time putting the Bruins up 4-0 with nearly 16 minutes to go in the game. That goal sent Luongo packing his bags, and kept the Bruins confident for the rest of the game.
Though the public wasn’t alerted to who would be replacing Horton on the first line until warmups before the game, linemate Krejci did know who he would be playing with. He didn’t say much to Peverley, but he didn’t have to. But what he did say managed to help build chemistry, even in the short period of time they have spent together on the line.
“Yeah, we talked about playing together, but we didn’t really get to talk too much,” Krejci said. “I didn’t want to put anything on him. He’s a good player and if you put too much stuff on him then it’s tough to play and you don’t know what to do, so we try to stay away from it and clear our heads. We have a good way to go and we did a good job tonight.”
With the win, the Bruins have tied the series 2-2 heading back to Vancouver. The Bruins have outscored the Canucks 12-1 in the past two games and with building momentum, will look to take another win before heading back home for Game 6 in Boston.
“I mean I think the way we played, we came from the drop of the puck and we didn’t let up for most of the night,” Bruins forward Shawn Thornton said. “I mean they played hard too, we had some pucks go in and Timmy [Tim Thomas] stood on his head. It’s going to be a great series, we tied it up and now we are going to have to work on the next one.”