- Chris Bourque watched the Bruins 7-4 loss to the Buffalo Sabres, Thursday night, from the press box on the ninth floor of TD Garden. Coach Claude Julien made him the healthy scratch so Bourque could sit back and watch the game from above, see where he could make some improvements and, most importantly, take some pressure off of himself.
Bourque had not registered a point on the year and it was clearly weighing on him. That all changed in the Bruins, 1-0, victory over the Toronto Maple Leafs Saturday night, when Bourque, inserted back into the lineup after injuries to Danny Paille and Shawn Thornton, tallied the lone goal of the game, just 8:54 into the first period.
You could see the pressure easing from his back as he dropped to one knee and pumped his fist – a play off of his Hall of Fame father Ray’s famous goal celebration – after he potted his first NHL goal since December 30, 2008, when he was a member of the Washington Capitals.
The Black & Gold got back to playing their stingy defense-first type game and Bourque was happy to play such a huge part in the victory.
“Yeah, for sure,” said the first-year Bruin, when asked if the goal gave him a boost in confidence. “I don’t know if it’s just getting the pressure off myself, it just felt good contributing to the team.
“That’s all I want to do here is help the team win. Tonight the goal ended up being the difference. I think we played a pretty solid game tonight, all around. Everybody should be pretty happy.”
The goal showed the offensive potential the third line of Bourque, Chris Kelly, and Rich Peverley has when they are clicking on all cylinders.
The line executed a near perfect breakout and Peverley rushed up the right side with the puck. He entered the zone and shuffled a pass over to Kelly, who was busting hard to the right post. Kelly never slowed down as he corralled the puck and sent a backhand pass across the crease.
Bourque, too, was hustling to the net and when Toronto goalie, James Reimer, could not get back to the far post quick enough, he tapped his second career goal into an empty net.
“It was a great play,” said the winger following the game. “I think Pevs carried it into the zone and gave it to Kelly, and Kells made a one touch pass on his backhand. All I had to do was put it on net.
“I think it was a good play all around, through the neutral zone, driving the net. I’ve been working on that in practice and it paid off tonight.”
Against Buffalo, it was clear that Peverley – who scored his first goal of the season against the Sabres – and Kelly played their best game of the season, but that was with Paille playing the left wing.
The momentum carried over, however, with Bourque back alongside his partners from the first six games of the season.
“I think we were just a couple bounces away a couple games previous,” Bourque said. “I think they played a really good game last game. I think they wanted to build off that and we got one in the first there. It kind of helped our confidence throughout the game. I thought we were pretty good tonight, it was nice.”
No. 48 never lost confidence, despite the fact that he hadn’t been able to crack the scoresheet over the first six games of the season. He knew the goals would come if he kept working hard and stayed focused.
“I knew I had the capability of doing it, it’s just a matter of going out there and proving it,” he said. “I had a couple chances here and there the first six games. Tonight I really wanted to bear down when I got a chance, and it ended up in the back of the net.”
Julien, who said he knows that Bourque has the skill to be a goal scorer in the NHL, also joked that the winger’s performance may have had to do with their pre-game talk.
“I’m really happy for him,” said the B’s bench boss. “I joked around with him before the game and said I would bag skate him tomorrow if he didn’t score. He obviously doesn’t like those kind of skates, he didn’t waste any time.
“It was nice to see him score that goal. That’s what we’ve been talking about. He’s very capable of doing those kind of things. The confidence that he had tonight – you could see a different player, it was nice to see him get that monkey off his back and score his first goal, the winning goal.”
Bourque didn’t notice that his goal celebration looked awfully similar to No. 77’s trademark, fist pump from one knee.
“I don’t know, I kind of blacked out when it happened,” he said, when asked if the celebration was a tribute to his Dad. “I was kind of excited, I don’t think I’ve scored an NHL goal in four years, so it’s a lot of weight off my back for sure.
“A couple fist pumps, maybe over excessive, but I was pretty excited.”