On the backs of forward Marco Sturm, who scored two goals, forward Brandon Bochenski, who had a goal and two assists, and goalie Tim Thomas
, who stopped 32 shots for his second shutout of the season and third of his NHL career, the Boston Bruins defeated the visiting Edmonton Oilers, 3-0, on Johnny Bucyk Night at the TD Banknorth Garden in front of 16,449 fans.
In the only game between these teams this season and the Oilers’ first visit to TD Banknorth Garden since Nov. 11, 2003 (a 4-3 Boston win), the Bruins sought to continue their successful three-wins-in-four-games stretch.
And coming off a big shootout win on Saturday, the Bruins seemed in good shape to do just that.
But when Boston Bruins General Manager Peter Chiarelli announced late Saturday that the club had acquired defenseman Andrew Ference
and right-winger Chuck Kobasew from the Calgary Flames in exchange for defenseman Brad Stuart and center Wayne Primeau (and a possible conditional draft pick), people had begun to think that the Black & Gold had thrown in the towel.
No so, indicated Dave Lewis prior to the match up.
"Everybody, meaning the players, was anticipating something happening," said Lewis of the trade. "And something did happen. And now life in the NHL continues on.
"As an individual player you have to prepare for tonight's game. As a team you have to prepare for tonight's game. And we have a road trip coming up, so nothing's really changed," he said.
In other words, coming into the match up with their Western Conference cousins, the Bruins had not counted themselves out of anything.
Suiting up in Black & Gold for the first time, Ference, 27, from Edmonton, had appeared in 53 games this season for the Flames and scored two goals and registered ten assists with Calgary.
"The coaches were saying 'Soak it up,'" said Ference of the Bucyk ceremonies before his first Bruins game. "It's special to be part of a tradition, of hockey history."
"What a great night for Johnny Bucyk," said Bruins head coach Dave Lewis. "It was great seeing him."
But there was a game to play, too.
The Oilers came into the night with a 28-24-4 record this season with a 10-13-2 docket on the road and had also won three of their last four games.
A large crowd of Black & Gold faithful was on had to honor their Chief on his 50th anniversary with the club, and Bucyk ended his speech by saying, "Let's bring the Stanley Cup back to Boston."
Perhaps inspired by their seemingly perennial patriarchal teammate, the Bruins broke out to a 2-0 lead thanks to goals from Bochenski (his 6th of the year, fourth with Boston), on the power play from Patrice Bergeron
and Marc Savard
Marco Sturm scored his 16th of the season, also on a man advantage, from Bergeron and Bochenski 16:15.
Bruins power forward Jeremy Reich took on Matt Greene and scored a quick decision in the ice bound boxing match.
And prophetically, B's goalie Tim Thomas
stopped all six shots he faced in the first period and led Boston into the locker room leading by two.
Thomas continued his fine play in the second, stopping all 14 of Edmonton's shots as the game became a little bogged down by Boston penalties when the Bruins took four minors to Edmonton's one, but would eventually end up killing all seven Edmonton power plays during the game.
However, the Bruins were unable to take advantage of their defensive prowess on the night, as former UMass-Lowell standout goalie Dwayne Roloson settled in and made six saves in the second to give him 13 on the game -- he would end with 22.
And the game remained 2-0 going into the third.
The Bruins turned up their defensive game and smothered the Oilers in the final period. The defensive corps, led by newcomer Ference, who ended the night with six hits, allowed Thomas to see all 12 shots he faced in the period and helped him to his second "0" of the season.
"My 'D' and forwards protected the core area, in the slot," said Thomas, deflecting all praise to his teammates. "And they had some huge blocked shots and just did a great job of getting out of the danger area."
To close out the scoring and ice the game for the home team, Sturm scored into an empty net to make the score 3-0 at 17:48.
"It feels good to win," said Bochenski, post game. "It's always nice when you are winning, especially coming to a new team."
But Bochenski and the Bruins have their sights set higher than one win.
"We have to win the majority of our games to get into the playoffs," said defenseman Paul Mara. "And we are playing desperate right now and things are working for us."