Losers of three of their last the four, the Boston Bruins were in need of a road win against an inferior Dallas Stars' team. The game was scoreless for much of the first two periods, but a combination of timely scoring and solid goaltending allowed Boston to hang on for a solid 3-2 win in in the Lone Star state.
Up until the closing moments of the second period, the Bruins had been unable to solve Stars goalie Kari Lehtonen. That all changed when a rebound from a Milan Lucic shot squirted into the slot and center David Krejci blasted the puck home to give Boston a 1-0 lead.
With a 2-1 lead late in the third, and the Bruins on the powerplay, Lucic raised his stick and redirected a high shot from Torey Krug for a great insurance goal. The score was Lucic's first in his last ten games, and even he admitted he was anxious for it to go up on the scoreboard.
"Goals really haven't come easy for me the last 18, 19 games," Lucic said, "and it was nice to get one there, especially on the power play."
Patrice Bergeron added an empty netter in the closing minutes of the third after Dallas had scored on a powerplay to make it 3-2. Bergeron, Krejci, and Lucic each had a goal and an assist, but the teams' most consistent performer in this game was goalie Chad Johnson.
Johnson hasn't played since Dec. 19, and hadn't looked great in his few starts before then, but it looked as though some time off might have helped his game. The Bruins' backup stopped 32 out of the 34 shots he faced, and was tasked with handling six Dallas powerplays. Johnson also did a majority of his work after suffering what looked like it could be a serious eye injury after taking a stick to the face.
"It was such a quick play," Johnson said. "I knew it was a blade and hit my cheek bone, and kind of came up and clipped my eye and my contact fell out."
We talked earlier about how the Bruins will need to give starter Tuukka Rask more time off, and if Johnson can continue to provide quality starts like the one had on Thursday night, then this team should be fine in net.
Whether it is Johnson or Rask in goal, both players are going to catch their breath over these next two days off. The reason? A grueling back-to-back starting at Chicago on Sunday afternoon (in a Stanley Cup rematch), and a home game against the Kings (a squad that gave Boston a 5-2 drilling not even a week ago). Better rest up.
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