A fifth defenseman, a hot winger, a slumping forward, a penalty killer, and the best center on the ice all were able to provide goals for the Boston Bruins in Wednesday night’s game three win in Toronto. The B’s were able to get goals from all over the ice, and for once, the Bruins seemed to be the ones catching all of the breaks. The Leafs hit more than a few posts, and Tuukka Rask played outstanding yet again, but it was the Bruins ability to capitalize as many chances as possible that should be the most encouraging thing going forward in these playoffs.
The Bruins finally have figured out that there might just be something to putting the puck on the net. Defenseman Adam McQuaid, who you would never confuse with Ray Borque, fired a puck past the inconsistent Leafs goalie James Reimer for the game’s first goal. The Air Canada was expectedly rowdy for the Leaf’s first playoff in almost a decade, so it was important that the Bruins establish themselves early, and with a little help from David Krejci and Milan Lucic, McQuaid was able to give the Bruins to start the Bruins out with an early lead.
Unlike McQuaid, forward Rich Peverley is expected to provide offense for the third line. Pevs has struggled all season putting up a mere eighteen points in forty seven games, thus earning himself a spot in the press box for game one. Peverley suited up for game two, and if Claude Julien thought the scratching would ignite the frustrated winger, he was mistaken.
In just over thirteen minutes of ice time Peverley failed to register a single shot, and wasn’t nearly the pestering presence that Kaspars Daugavins was in the previous game. Why Julien decided to shake up the forwards remains to be seen, but the coach would benefit from not outthinking himself in the future.
Last night, six minutes into the second period Peverley forced a Toronto pass behind the net, where none other than Jaromir Jagr angled his long reach and picked the puck from Maple Leafs defenseman Ryan O’Byrne. With James Reimer having lost track ofpuck, all that was left was for Jagr to find a wide-open Peverley in front of the net for the goal that would put the Bruins up one.
After Toronto responded almost immediately with a tally from Jake Gardiner, it looked as though Boston might have squandered two leads on the road. Normally this is something that would be difficult to overcome, but the resiliant Bruins found a way to once again overcome their own mishaps.
Enter the line, and the man who have owned this series so far. Nathan Horton had already been knocking on the door earlier in the game, and the way this line is playing it was only a matter of time before they put another goal on the board.
Milan Lucic’s bull through the left side of the Leaf’s defense was impressive, but it was Horton’s surprisingly deft touch in front of the goal that made the difference. After Lucic made a great pass, it looked like James Reimer might have slid over in time to make a spectacular save. Horton however, had other ideas.
The play happened so fast that it would have been very easy to miss Horton take Lucic’s pass, which was on the ice, and elevate it above Remier into the upper half of the net. For those who were watching on tv, it took a second for both the camera and the announcers to realize that Horton had, in fact finished a fantastic goal.
After Horton scored, the Leafs and their crowd refused to go quietly into the night. The Bruins frustratingly gave Toronto plenty of chances (specifically powerplays) to even the score, but it was the Leaf’s own gaffe that would prove to be the most costly.
When Phill Kessel (who else) lazily attempted to slide a pass to defenseman Dion Phaneuf, Daniel Paille read it to near perfection. What was more impressive than Paille’s jump was his finish. With Kessel charging back to cut off Paille’s forehand, the Bruins winger sly shielded the puck over to his backhand and flipped out off the far post past a befuddled Reimer.
The empty netter came courtesy of David Krejci, who now has six points in the Bruins two wins. Krejci’s fast start has fans feeling nostalgic for 2011, where Krejci also led the B’s in playoff points en route to a Stanley Cup title.
Despite the Bruins array of scorers, there are still plenty of areas of concern. The Bruins were out shot, and if not for Tuukka Rask could be staring at a two to one series deficit. Penalties and the penalty kill continue to be a problem for a team that needs to be more disciplined if it hopes to advance.
Never the less, the B’s scored, first on the road, and broke two ties in the most hostile of playoff environments. If the Bruins could get their best regular season line of Bergeron, Seguin and Marchand to pump in some goals, then they would truly be a team to be reckoned with. For now, they will have to settle for getting goals from all different positions in different situations. As sloppy as this game was for both teams, the Bruins finally finished on chances that were the difference between winning the game, and going down in the series.
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