BOSTON – Not many teams can survive a night without their second-leading scorer in the lineup.
With Brad Marchand sidelined with the flu Thursday night, the Boston Bruins did more than survive; they thrived in a romp over Calgary at the TD Garden.
The Bruins scored three goals in the first period and rode three-point nights by Nathan Horton, Tyler Seguin, Patrice Bergeron, David Krejci and Benoit Pouliot to a 9-0 destruction of the Flames, who were finishing up a seven-game road trip.
The Flames finished the trip 2-4-1, while the Bruins improved to 9-1-0 in their last 10. Over those games, they've outscored their opponents 49-13.
"Yeah, I think it's confidence, honestly," said Bergeron about his team's league-leading offense. "I think the depth we've been talking about all year has been helping us a lot ... four lines feeling confident, feeling good about themselves, obviously helps a lot. And every line wants to contribute and go out there and find ways to score."
That Seguin, Bergeron and Pouliot were able to combine for nine points, including three goals, was a testament to the Bruins' depth and their overall team chemistry. Pouliot filled the left-wing spot typically filled by Marchand.
"Yeah, it was awesome," said Pouliot, whose three points matched a career high, about skating with Seguin and Bergeron. "It feels like they're always at the right spot at the right time. They're good skaters, good with the puck and they play hard on both ends of the ice. So, my job is just to fill in and try to help them out as much as I can and try to do what Marchy does, and things worked out."
It took just 1:14 for that trio to get on the scoreboard, as Bergeron emerged from behind the net and fed the puck to the front for a Seguin redirect into the net past Leland Irving. Irving, a rookie making just his fourth NHL start, allowed six goals on 21 shots before he was pulled during the second period.
Milan Lucic and David Krejci added goals for the Bruins in the first period. Bergeron, who passed Marchand for second on Boston's scoring chart, and team-leading scorer Seguin hooked up again 1:19 into the second period, with Seguin this time playing the set-up guy, for a 4-0 lead. By then the Bruins were sitting pretty, en route to improving to 22-0-0 when they score at least three goals in a game.
Chris Kelly and Daniel Paille (shorthanded) also scored before the night was out. While the Bruins were enjoying a balanced attack, the Flames were posting some ugly numbers. The Bruins outshot them, 42-25, and Calgary's top defense pair of Jay Bouwmeester and Chris Butler combined for a minus-12 rating (Butler was the first NHL player to post a minus-7 since Doug Wilson in 1993 for San Jose, according to the Elias Sports Bureau).
"It sucks tonight; it sucks tomorrow probably, but come Saturday of the game you go through your routine and all of that," said Bouwmeester. "The best part of that is that we do get to play on Saturday. We get a chance to go back and definitely right some wrongs, I guess. And try and get back playing the right way. Just working and just doing the things that will let us have success."
Calgary head coach Brent Sutter might've had an inclination his team was going to endure a long night because of its struggle in the morning skate, which he stopped halfway through to lecture his players for 10 minutes before resuming activities.
"Well I didn't think we were very sharp this morning. It's game day. We weren't at the level we needed to be on game day at our pregame skate and I addressed it with the team," said Sutter. "But, you know, we had time to be where we needed to be and, again, it gets back really to the start of the game. It's 3 ½ minutes into the game and you're down 3-0. That's not where you want to be and especially in the situation we were in and with all those variables that were talked about."
The Bruins managed to not look past Calgary toward Saturday's Stanley Cup Final rematch with Vancouver. Now they can start to get psyched for the Canucks' arrival at the Garden.
"Yeah, it's going to be a huge game," said Bergeron. "I mean obviously it's a tough team. We've seen it last year, it's a team that's very physical, a lot of talent, great power play and now we know them more than we used to last year. And it's going to be a tough battle and I know it's going to be an exciting game and we're all looking forward to it."