Some people would say I should consider myself lucky to get such an exciting contest to cover as I made my site debut. One that resulted in a dominating 7-4 Bruins win, no less. Sadly, if I get to stick around here long enough, you’ll come to find out that I am not the most optimistic guy in the world. The way I see it, tonight’s game was another example of what I’m beginning to feel is going to be one of the defining trends of the season.
Just when you think you have figured this team out, just when you think you know who and what they are and what’s going to happen, they turn right around and go the other direction.
The Boston Bruins went to Pittsburgh on Wednesday night to face the Penguins, looking for a little redemption after dropping two straight games that saw the Bruins battle back only to drop both games late. The trend looked as though it was promising to continue as the Penguins took charge from the onset as they out gunned and out muscled the Bruins for the first two periods, taking a 4-2 lead into the final 20 minutes. The Bruins were reeling and looked as though they had come back down to earth following their blazing 7-2 month of October to start the season.
At least that is the story I already had half written by 3:49 of the third period when Nat Horton notched his seventh of the young season. It was the first of five unanswered Bruins goals and completely threw every theory I had about this game and this team out the window.
Just my luck.
They were being outshot nearly 2-to-1. They were being out hit 3-to-1. They were being outskated, playing slow and sloppy, and they could neither generate nor sustain any offensive zone pressure. The Bruins had given up goals to the dynamic weapons that are Aaron Asham and Brooks Orpik, a duo that’s combined to score all of 15 goals over the past two seasons, while the hulking tandem of Horton and Milan Lucic were non-factors. Even the Bruins league-leading penalty kill had been victimized by an own-goal. The Bruins were no longer looking like the team many of their fans and critics through they were and that was my game story. Then, as so many clichés go, they flipped the proverbial switch in the third and became the dominant team they had been a few weeks earlier.
The fun started 4:30 into the final period with Patrice Bergeron winning an offensive zone draw to set up a solid 25 seconds of offensive zone pressure for the Bruins, their first notable stint in the Pittsburgh zone of the evening. To that point all of their offense had come off the rush, but as Lucic worked the puck in low and then out to defenseman Matt Hunwick on the point, they began to do what many feared they would not be able to do after David Krejci joined the walking wounded, sustaining a concussion against St. Louis, as the Bruins began to control play in the offensive zone and create scoring chances. The Bruins puck control led to Denny Seidenberg feeding Horton behind the net, who then walked out in front and beat Pittsburgh goaltender Brent Johnson and cut the Bruins deficit to one.
Before anyone could catch their breath, the game was tied as Zdeno Chara led the rush off the ensuing face-off and ripped a bomb past Johnson just 15 seconds later to tie the game, 4-4. From there it was the Pittsburgh offense that disappeared as the Bruins controlled the pace of play and the momentum.
Shawn Thornton continued his strong play of late, tallying the game winner at 12:40 of the third after Pittsburgh’s Alex Goligoski made an ill-fated attempt to pinch at his offensive blue line and keep in a Gregory Campbell clearing attempt. Thornton tipped the puck passed Goligoski, avoided the hit and was off, streaking virtually unchallenged into the Pittsburgh zone, firing one past Johnson for his third goal of the season. Blake Wheeler then scored on a nifty backhand as he was falling to the ice, fending off Penguins’ defender Kris Letang, and Lucic added an empty-netter to account for the remaining Boston goals. For a team that many wondered where their offense would come from, 15-of-18 Bruins skaters recorded points in the contest.
The Bruins now return home to and kick-off a three game home stand against division-leading Montreal on Thursday night, getting their first look at their ancient foes of the season. The Canadiens come to Boston having dropped three of five, but are still playing strong hockey on the season following a 2-0 win against Vancouver on Tuesday night. As for the Bruins, I guess we’ll just have to wait and see.
About the Author
Written by Matt Preston
I'm no Heminway or Haggerty, but keeping the dream alive, even if I'm pretty sure my Nana is my only follower. Self-deprecation is key, grammar is optional.