After beating the Caps in Washington Tuesday night, our Boston Bruins finally made it home to open their forty game schedule at the TD Garden. As most NHL fans know and understand, when a team comes off of a long road trip, sometimes the good guys come out and play a stinker in their return to familiar surroundings.
I wouldn’t consider tonight’s effort a stinker but for a good portion of the first period, the Washington Capitals controlled the play and Tim Thomas was forced to make some acrobatic, sprawling saves. His work in the first period directly led to the team’s early success. Seeing Thomas live for the first time this year, he had very good speed in the crease. Many times, he was forced to go post to post due to the Caps offensive firepower and every time tonight, he was successful. I’m not 100% sold on his rebound control but tonight he had full control of his rebounds.
Patrice Bergeron had a great game for the B’s as well. With assists on the first two goals of the game, he made superb passes to Michael Ryder and Jordan Caron. Ryder closed out the first period with a power play goal with 25 seconds remaining in the period. After a shaky start, Ryder’s goal put the B’s up going into the room after one.
The backhand pass from behind the net to Caron was the capper of three great shifts to open the second period. The Campbell line opened the period and put the pressure in the Washington zone. Then the Krejci line took over and kept the Caps running. With all the pressure in the Washington zone and the long, second period line change Alex Ovechkin and his line was stuck out there for both line changes and were almost standing still when Bergy picked the puck up behind the net. As he went behind the net and THREE Capitals focused on him, he slipped a backhand pass into the slot as Jordan Caron closed in on net. He ripped a wrist shot, short side above Semyon Varlamov’s glove high into the net.
Nathan Horton played his first game for the Garden crowd tonight. We all know he asked to be traded from the Florida Panthers. This is the environment he said he wanted to be in. After the game when asked about his first game here, he was all smiles and couldn’t believe the response. He even commented about the quantity of media, not only surrounding him but talking to the rest of the guys. He scored a power play goal in the second period on a rare (for him) slap shot that blasted through Varlamov. He now has at least one point in every game as a Bruin.
The Bruins closed out the game with a solid third period. Whenever there was a breakdown, Thomas was there to back the guys up. The one goal he allowed, well he blew it. The Caps dumped the puck into the Bruin zone on a line change. Thomas came out to the circles and beat Jason Chmera to the puck, “…and I saw [Blake] Wheeler up on the wing there coming back, and you know, Wheels deserves to get a goal here pretty soon, and I wanted to get him the puck. I got hungry for an assist and I just got greedy. I should’ve played and just kept it simple.” His pass toward Wheeler never left the ice and Chmura stole the pass and buried it into the empty net. Andrew Ference made a great sliding effort to bail out Thomas but to no avail.
Zdeno Chara scored a late power play goal to complete the scoring. For the evening, the Bruins penalty kill was a perfect 4-4 and the power play was a robust 3-4. Going into the evening, the Capitals penalty kill was perfect for the season while the Bruin power play hadn’t scored since the season opener in Prague against the Coyotes.
The Bruins have their next two at home as well. The B’s host the second oldest team based in the States on Saturday when they welcome Sean Avery and the Rangersto town. Continuing the ”Original Six” theme, we’ve got Kessel-mania and the Maple Leafs next Thursday before travelling up to Ottawa a week from Saturday.
Hopefully the winning ways continue on Saturday…Go B’s!
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Written by Jim Mulligan