BOSTON – After the disappointment of losing their Stanley Cup Final rematch with Vancouver and the subsequent suspension of star forward Brad Marchand, the Boston Bruins got back to the business of dominating the third period Tuesday night.
In the process, Boston continued Winnipeg's misery on the road.
The Bruins scored three goals in the first 6:41 of the third period to rally from a one-goal deficit for a 5-3 victory against the feisty Jets at the TD Garden.
While the Bruins improved to 5-1-0 in their last six home games, the Jets finished their recent road trip 1-3-0 and fell to just 6-11-4 away from Winnipeg this season.
"It's the way we needed to respond," Bruins coach Claude Julien said. "We probably needed to respond that way in the first two periods. What we did in the third was basically our game plan, and I didn't feel we had it tonight. Emotionally, we weren't as engaged as much as we normally are, and because of that, we seemed content to go back and forth with Winnipeg. They played hard, and they were on top of us, and they seemed to be winning those races to loose pucks, and so on and so forth.
"We were a good enough team, and a smart enough team, to at least come out in the third with some desperation and some intent in our game to do the right things and find a way to win, and I obviously liked our third period a lot."
Nathan Horton got the Bruins' third-period scoring going just eight seconds in with his second goal of the night. The Bruins perfectly executed a faceoff play, which started with David Krejci winning the draw and then winning a race to Milan Lucic's chip-in before the center set up Horton in front of the goal.
The momentum was clearly at Boston's back after that.
"Yeah, I thought we were pretty happy with the way we played in the first two periods. We felt confident going into the third, and that first shift killed us," said Winnipeg captain Andrew Ladd, whose team was outshot, 22-8, in the third period. "It took the air out of the team, and we have to be better at the start of the period."
Tyler Seguin put the Bruins ahead at 3:06 by beating Ondrej Pavelec with a backhand shot after swooping into the Winnipeg end from the blue line to catch up to a Patrice Bergeron chip-in. On the power play, Benoit Pouliot provided the Bruins with a two-goal cushion with some yeoman's work in front of the Jets' goal, as he banged in a rebound of his own shot.
Tuukka Rask earned the win in goal with 29 saves, including a stop on a first-period penalty shot by Chris Thorburn. In the second period, with the Jets leading, 2-1, Boston's Shawn Thornton also earned a penalty shot. But he used a backhand move to beat Pavelec (37 saves) and tie the game.
"I've actually practiced that move a bunch," said Thornton, who lifted his leg like he was going to take a wrist shot between the circles before he continued toward the net. "We practice a lot of shootouts at the end of practice. I used to do it until Tuukka knew it. But after they called it, he was shaking his head yes to try it. So why not?"
The two penalty shots marked the first time in Bruins history a game featured one for and against Boston.
The Jets, who had built their 2-1 lead on goals by Ladd and Blake Wheeler, didn't seem fazed by Thornton's goal. With 9:49 remaining in the second period, Winnipeg regained the lead on a goal by Eric Fehr. Over the course of the night, the Jets also had to deal with the loss of defenseman Zach Bogosian and forward Tanner Glass to injury.
So maybe a third-period collapse was inevitable? However, Jets coach Claude Noel wasn't making any excuses.
"It was a disappointing game. I mean, you played pretty solid for 40 minutes and you miss an assignment in the opening faceoff in the first shift of the third and then you are tied," Noel said. "So, emotionally they won the battles and we didn't pay the price that was necessary at our net. That's where they scored three of their goals. For me, there are no excuses. But, you are playing against a team that has won a Cup and emotionally they get to a level that you've got to know that you are going to have to dig down and reach. We didn't get it done."