February 4, 2014

First line carries Bruins past visiting Canucks

By Jesse Connolly

Jarome Iginla watches as Milan Lucic's first-period goal pops back out of the net. (Getty Images)

Final: Boston 3, Vancouver 1

Recap: With 5:12 gone in the opening frame, the Bruins first line came barreling into the zone. Jarome Iginla went to the net while David Krejci fed Milan Lucic. His shot beat Roberto Luongo high on the blocker side to make it 1-0 Boston. The Canucks appeared to have a huge edge in zone time, but only managed to outshoot the B's 9-5 in the opening frame.

In the second period, a Jarome Iginla goal on the man advantage pushed the lead to two. The Canucks cut it in half less than four minutes later, however, as a shot from newcomer Raphael Diaz eluded Tuukka Rask on the glove side. After a goal by Brad Marchand was overturned (Torey Krug interfered with Luongo), Dan Paille got in alone on Luongo and beat him with a fancy backhanded shot to make it 3-1.

Boston controlled most of the third period, outshooting Vancouver 14-9, as the Canucks were never able to make it a one-goal game again.

Records: Boston 36-16-3, 75 points; Vancouver 27-22-9, 63 points

Key Play of the Game: During a Boston power play in the second period, Torey Krug and Milan Lucic collided at the B's blue line, setting up Daniel Sedin to come in alone with the puck. Tuukka Rask stoned the first-line winger, and the Bruins took the play the other way. Zdeno Chara sent a pass through the slot over to Iginla, who snapped it home past a helpless Luongo.

Connolly's Commendations: If you haven't figured it out by now, the first line really came to play tonight. Iginla, Lucic and Krejci combined for five points, nine shots and a plus-6 rating on the evening. Lucic dished out a team-high five hits, and the line as a whole simply outworked a makeshift Vancouver D.

The Bruins defense did a great job of keeping many of the Canucks' bids from long distance, but credit Tuukka Rask for his bounce-back performance. After being yanked against the Habs and playing backup to Chad Johnson when the B's beat Edmonton, No. 40 came in and stopped 27-of-28 against a desperate Canucks squad.

Johnny Boychuk might have somehow only been credited with three hits in the box score, but there's no denying No. 55 was a physical force all night -- never more apparent than on his full-speed hip-checking of David Booth. His stretch pass sent Paille in alone on Luongo for Boston's third goal. With that assist, Boychuk ended a six-game stretch without a point.

Connolly's Critiques: It's hard to find any flawed performances in this one, but if you're desperately in need of knowing which Bruin wasn't at his best, then Gregory Campbell is your guy. He was minus-1 and lost all four faceoffs he took.

Notes: The win was Boston's first against Vancouver since Game 7 of the 2011 Stanley Cup Final. The B's were 0-2 in their last two showdowns, including a 6-2 set back on the road in December. ... Iginla notched his 600th career NHL assist on Lucic's first period goal. He becomes the 78th player in history to hit that mark.

Final Thoughts: This was one of the most complete efforts the Bruins have turned in all season, as they won a game against a talented-but-inferior Canucks squad that's now lost five games in a row. The first line did the heavy lifting, Rask made the necessary stops and Luongo let in just enough goals for a jeering crowd to get their money's worth.

Next: The Bruins will head to St. Louis to take on the Blues on Thursday night.

Twitter: @JesseNEHJ
Email: jconnolly@hockeyjournal.com