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BOSTON -- The San Jose Sharks were less than one second from remaining the only team in the NHL without a regulation loss.
Then David Krejci ended the Sharks' streak.
"Luck. It was a lucky goal," Krejci said. "I tried to get a stick on it and it worked this time."
The Sharks are 8-1-1; the Bruins are 7-2-0. Boston has won four in a row, and although the Bruins are still behind San Jose in the overall NHL standings, they feel like winning a game after being outshot 39-17 proves they're among the elite of the League.
"Definitely," forward Milan Lucic said. "You want to try to be a good team, and teams try to find ways to win in different ways. It was one of those ones where we really, really had to grind it out tonight. Like I said, [goaltender] Tuukka [Rask] made some huge stops, especially in the first period and also in the second to keep us in it. We got some momentum right now, and hopefully we can finish off this three [games] in four [days] on a positive note [Saturday against the New Jersey Devils]."
Niemi finished with 15 saves; Rask stopped 38 shots. The Bruins goaltender didn't start for the first time this season Wednesday in a road win against the Buffalo Sabres, so he'd been off four days between games. But early opportunities for the Sharks worked in Rask's favor.
"I just wanted to get a good start," Rask said. "Sometimes it's better when you face a lot of shots in the first period (Boston was outshot 16-3), you kind of get yourself into the game if you're able to save the pucks. It's more of a mental challenge. You know, force yourself to be awake and fully aware of what's going on out there. But luckily they had so many shots and I was able to save all of them in the first."
After the Sharks surrendered the first goal of the game late in the second period, they wasted little time in the third tying it. Marc-Edouard Vlasic stole Dennis Seidenberg's pass up the left wall and wristed the puck at Rask from the left point. Patrick Marleau flipped in the rebound with 18 seconds elapsed, ending Rask's shutout streak at 106:18.
The Sharks nearly grabbed the lead 20 seconds later when Joe Thornton fed Tomas Hertl during a 2-on-1, but Rask kept the puck out of the net. Later in the period Rask had to stack his pads to thwart a Jason Demers scoring chance.
From the start, the Bruins looked every bit a team that got in late Wednesday night -- and the Sharks, who'd been in Massachusetts since Monday night, took full advantage.
"We try not to get frustrated, try to stick with it, and he [Rask] played a great game tonight," Marleau said. "But, you know … we've got to keep going the same way in order to get wins."
The Bruins' energy level perked up in the second period, and with it came more scoring chances and shots on net. San Jose outshot Boston 9-7 during the middle 20 minutes.
Early in the period Shawn Thornton skated into the San Jose zone alone after an indirect pass from the Boston zone to the red line by Torey Krug. Thornton's slap shot from the top of the right circle rang off the left post.
Finally, with 1:12 remaining before the second intermission, the Bruins got on the board on Jarome Iginla's first goal with Boston. Seidenberg's shot from the left point was tipped wide by Krejci. The puck then deflected to the right side of the slot, where Iginla hammered the puck off the inside of Niemi's right pad and through the five-hole for a 1-0 lead.
"It's been longer than I would've liked, but it sure felt good to get it here and to get it at home and it being a tight game and obviously it was a good bounce," Iginla said. "It wasn't exactly how I envisioned it ... but at this point you take anything. ... It was a tough game and I thought as a group we got better after the first period, and San Jose is playing very well right now so it feels really good all around."
Krejci extended his point streak to six games; he has at least one point in eight of the Bruins' nine games. Niemi's shutout streak ended at 119:52.
The Sharks continue their five-game road trip against the Montreal Canadiens on Saturday, and won't hang their heads between now and then.
"Yeah, we did play well again tonight; it's just a little mistake at the end," captain Joe Thornton said. "But we're playing good hockey and it's a pretty good hockey team that we played against."
|Jarome Iginla Roughing against Tyler Kennedy|
|Joe Thornton Tripping against Zdeno Chara|