By Ty Anderson
Final: Boston 6, Carolina 2
Recap: On the heels of a listless loss in Montreal, there was no doubt that changes were coming to a Boston forward core simply devastated by the loss of Patrice Bergeron.
Focusing their changes on the middle of the aching forward core, headlined by the return of two-way center Chris Kelly from a fractured tibia and coach Claude Julien's swapping of Gregory Campbell (up to the second line) and Rich Peverley (down to the fourth line), the returns and switches paid early dividends in front of a sellout crowd in Boston.
Well, for everybody besides Carolina goaltender Justin Peters, of course.
Striking on their second shot of the game as Peverley scored his first goal since Mar. 16, the Bruins' assault on the Carolina backup continued just minutes later when Brad Marchand caught the 26-year-old napping, beating an unsuspecting Peters off a brutal rebound. Giving the Bruins a 2-0 edge, and putting Peters' night to an end after just four shots, the departure of the second rounder from the 2004 draft class made way for the 32-year-old Dan Ellis to play the role of stopper for Carolina.
Something that proved to be impossible for Ellis to do for his simply reeling 'Canes squad.
Finishing the period with four saves on five shots, the Boston offense continued its decimation of the Carolina goaltending tandem when Brad Marchand struck off a Jaromir Jagr rebound, scoring his second goal of the night, and 16th of 2013.
Skating off to a standing ovation and three goals on nine shots, a stellar first for Tuukka Rask (18 saves) and the Boston Bruins continued on into the middle frame, as the Bruins' surge continued on with goals from Andrew Ference and Jordan Caron, while Rask's post-second numbers included 30 saves and zero goals against.
In an absolutely decided game, the 'Canes would eventual break through and spoil Rask's bid for a shutout when they scored two goals separated by just 45 seconds, the first off the stick of Pat Dwyer and the second from Drayson Bowman, but it would prove to be too late as the Bruins found (added) insurance with Nathan Horton's 13th goal of the season and Rask's season-high tying 40 saves proved to be enough in a 6-2 victory on Boston ice.
Records: Boston 25-9-4, 54 points; Carolina 16-20-2, 34 points
Key Play of the Game: The Bruins did what they had to do early in this one, and that’s put the Carolina Hurricanes away with the dagger. There’s no doubt that the ‘Canes are a club that could score a quick two or three on you, and that’s why Brad Marchand’s second goal of the night (the Bruins’ third of the first), was so important. Not only was it a play that saw the Bruins excel in something that’s been a nightmare for them in 2013, and that’s finishing, but it took the Hurricanes so far out of this club from a scoreboard and emotional point of view that it by all means become smooth sailing for the Boston offense after a mere 20 minutes of play.
Anderson’s Commendations: Through three games, there’s certainly something in the works when it comes to the chemistry between B’s forwards Brad Marchand and Jaromir Jagr. Put on the same line for the second time in three games since Jagr’s come to Boston from Dallas, the successes of the forwards separated by almost 19 years continued tonight, with Marchand’s pair of goals both coming with helpers for the 41-year-old Jagr. Now with three points in as many games in Boston, the 5-foot-9 agitator has been involved in all of Jagr’s scoring in the Hub, getting the primary assist on Jagr’s first and only goal with the club thus far, and have been as potent as can be even with grinder Gregory Campbell centering them.
Hey, how about we put these guys with David Krejci and see what happens, huh?
Anderson’s Critiques: It’s tough to harp on a team when they score six goals, but if there was one area of the Bruins’ game that needed improvement tonight game for the, it was on the blue-line. Allowing an unbelievable 42 shots on net, forcing Rask to tie a season-high 40-save mark set just two games ago, the passive B’s defense has now allowed at least 40 shots on net in three of their last four games. No matter how great your goaltenders are, there’s simply no way that it’s a sustainable team model for a Claude Julien coached Boston squad.
Notes: Boston stay-at-home defensemen Dennis Seidenberg had himself a game, finishing the night with a career-high three assists in the win. The Bruins finally scored at least six goals in a game this year, in Game 38 of the year, a staunch change from last season, when they accomplished the feat in just the seventh game of the year last season. With the victory, the Bruins maintain their home-ice dominance in 2013, boasting a conference-best 14-2-2 record at the TD Garden this year. Final Thoughts: For a Boston team searching for consistency and fighting the malaise of a lockout-shortened season, it’s not about the style of the win that’s become important, but the win itself. And in the club’s 38th game of the season, there’s no doubt that this one wasn’t pretty, but it was certainly enough, and that’s all that matters. But on the same token, it’s important for this squad to realize that they’re not out of the woods just yet, as not every NHL club possesses a goaltending tandem as woeful as a sans Cam Ward Carolina club. It’s finding this consistency from these new-look lines that’s going to be key for the Black-and-Gold.
Next: The Bruins will head to New Jersey for a Wednesday night showdown with the New Jersey Devils. It’ll be the season finale between these conference foes, and with Boston taking the first two and with the slumping Devils hanging on for their playoff lives, it’s fair to suspect that this game will be an absolute battle.