- It may not have been pretty, and the Bruins didn't see an outburst of goals, but a team fighting to find its game found a way back into the win column tonight with a 3-2 shootout win over the Maple Leafs at TD Garden.
"To me it was a gutsy effort, not a pretty effort, but a gutsy one," Coach Julien told media following the victory. "Until we scored our second goal, we really weren’t that good. And I don’t think the will and desire is not there -- I think, we’re a little heavy right now in our play."
"We’ve lost some speed and everything else that comes with it. It’s a gutsy effort, anyways, from our part."
The B's started the first period with a jump, after Coach Julien had implemented the new-look lines from Sunday's practice that saw David Krejci centering Brad Marchand and Nathan Horton, Patrice Bergeron alongside Daniel Paille and Tyler Seguin, and Milan Lucic skating on his left wing with Rich Peverley and Jordan Caron.
The chemistry wasn't entirely there right away, but it progressed and the Bruins generated some opportunities early before the teams settled into a tight-checking game.
"Sometimes you need a spark like that, and I felt like all of the lines were doing well and playing well and moving our feet and creating some good chances," said Patrice Bergeron on the switches.
"I thought, obviously talking about my line, I thought Piesy was really creating a lot of chances just by moving his feet, by skating really well and using his speed, and I thought we had some really good looks."
Missed chances yet again left the B's frustrated, but they kept pressing, and after falling behind by Leafs' goals off the power play and on a breakaway, it was the powerful Milan Lucic who broke through and ended a scoreless drought of 15 games.
"After they scored the second goal we got ourselves going," said Coach, on the effort from his club after being down 2-0, 8:01 into the second period. "Milan was very good after the first period, he got his feet going and it made a big difference."
With Lucic moving his legs, the also speedy Rich Peverley jumped on the puck and quickly fed it to No. 17, who streaked through center ice and powered past the Leafs' defender to narrow the B's deficit to 2-1, just 1:48 after falling down by two.
About seven minutes into the third, with Lucic moving well, Coach Julien decided to reunite the top two lines. And at the 10:36 mark, Bergeron backhanded the equalizer past Reimer, after Dougie Hamilton had jumped into the play, noticing a hold-up near the Toronto bench after both teams were making line changes, and fed the center from behind the goal.
"Trying to get the puck out of the war zone first," said Bergeron, on Marchand winning a puck battle at the red line. "That’s always the most important thing and then try to create some chances offensively. It was a good dump actually by Marchy to send Dougie that with speed, and I just wanted to get open for him to get me the puck."
Coming up with the deciding goal in the shootout, followed by a save from Tuukka Rask on Nikolai Kulemin, Bergeron was pleased to see his B's fight through and get the win.
"We’ve talked about it. It’s one of those things you’ve got to battle through it, and I thought we did that tonight," said Bergeron. "You don’t want that to happen, but it’s going to happen in the season, and it’s about finding a way to get out of it, and I think we’ve still got to be better, but it’s a step forward."
With B's like Lucic and Marchand not finding the back of the net as of late, it was huge for the Black & Gold to see the power forward showing speed to put one into the back of the net.
"Right now what I see is our team, and that we need to fight through it, and fight through this – I guess this tough stretch," said Coach Julien, noting that his team is looking tired and trying to regain their speed.
"And we did tonight, and at the same time we’re going to try to give our guys some rest here moving forward so that we can get our second wind."
Back End Lends a Hand
The Bruins' game-tying goal came from Dougie Hamilton jumping into the play and showing off some offensive instincts down low, something he may not have been able to do earlier in the season, with adjusting to the NHL game.
"I don’t really remember the start of it, but I joined in and Marchy chipped it in," said Hamilton. "I guess I just decided to go forecheck and try to get it. I won the battle and saw Bergy in the slot, so just tried to get it to him as soon as possible."
"I think it’s just instinct to take that risk, and instead of staying back, trying to play more offensive and join. Usually, you don’t try to go behind their net too much, but I guess it worked out."
And Hamilton wasn't the only blueliner to join in tonight, with the other B's defensemen choosing their moments to pinch in throughout the game. And Zdeno Chara even gave the Bruins their best chance of overtime, by sending a wraparound through the crease, that Marchand nearly converted on for the game-winner.
"It was good, we mentioned that on the bench. I thought the D’s did a good job, especially again in the third period of carrying the puck up forward instead of going back, pinching at the right time, and putting more pressure on them," said Coach Julien. "I thought that was an important part in our turnaround."
Finding Second Wind
Following the game, Coach Julien talked about the B's looking "heavy" out on the ice. When asked to explain further, he said, "You can tell, nothing is as quick as it has been."
"We’re trying to figure out whether the fatigue factor has played into that. I think we are tired, so we’re going to have to look into that a little bit more."
"This is certainly a team that when you see them in the room and you see them out on the ice, it’s not from lack of will, more than they seemed to be a little tired right now. That’s our assessment of our team and that’s how we feel our team is right now: a little bit on the tired side."
Playing into that, Coach had opted to not hold a pregame skate for the Bruins Monday morning, and said he might do that more moving forward.
"In the future? Absolutely," said Coach, on if he might exercise that option. "I mean, there’s different ways of skinning a cat I guess, and some of it would be that way, and some of it would be getting more days off, and getting a good morning skate. I think we have to look at those different options at different times."