They did not let the frustration seep into their game.
Instead, they scored three goals in the closing seven minutes of the second period and six straight goals altogether as they finished their six-game road trip with a 7-3 win in Dallas.
They held the league’s highest scoring team to just nine shots on goal in the final 28 minutes.
Six scorers combined for the seven goals, with Brad Marchand scoring twice to reach his first 30-goal season and the power play finally breaking through for three goals. Loui Eriksson’s goal with 51.6 on the clock in the second period stood as the game-winner.
Matt Beleskey’s power play goal with 22.1 left in the game capped off the scoring. After battling in front of the net, he jammed the puck in as he was knocked down. On his back, he stretched out his arms in celebration.
The bench was full of smiles and winning vibes. The Bruins were heading back home after 11 days on the road with a 4-2-0 record on the trip.
“Especially the way we ended this road trip, coming home 4-2 instead of 3-3 is a big change,” said Marchand. “We have a few really big games coming up and the schedule’s not getting any easier, so we have to realize how we played this game, the type of game we played, and try to carry that into each and every game.”
“And if we do that, we’re going to be a pretty good team.”
The Bruins and their coach were trying their best to remain stoic after the game, despite the lop-sided outcome against a top team like the Stars.
“We’re even-keeled,” said Head Coach Claude Julien. “We don’t get over-excited about certain things and we don’t get down about the other stuff that’s out there. We just try and focus on what we have to do here and I think that’s what our guys are doing.”
“Are they happy about this win? Absolutely. When you’re down the way you were tonight and you come back, you should be excited about how you won the game, but I think we’ll turn the page here, go back home and realize that first game against Columbus is going to be just as important as this game tonight to finish the road trip.”
The Bruins will get Sunday off after returning home late from Dallas, before turning around to face the Blue Jackets right away on Monday night at TD Garden.
“Obviously it was a big win, especially against a team like that on the road, but we have to stay even-keeled,” echoed David Krejci. “Just kind of go about our business, regroup and come back strong in two days.
The Bruins knew the Stars would come out hard in front of their home crowd, especially after losing two straight games. Tuukka Rask had to pull out a stop on a Jamie Benn breakaway in the opening minutes.
But the Stars struck first to go up 1-0 with 8:01 left in the opening frame. During a Bruins’ line change, Ales Hemsky fired a shot from the left circle between the legs of Joe Morrow, off the post and in behind Rask.
Boston responded just 1:25 later to tie the game at 1-1, with Marchand scoring his first of the game. They had put themselves in a good position.
Patrice Bergeron sent the puck up ice, with Brett Connolly making a strong play in the neutral zone and threading a pass to Marchand at the top of the crease. Marchand settled the puck and got Kari Lehtonen to go one way, before backhanding it in.
Less than 2:00 later, Antonie Roussel deflected a drive from out high past Rask at the last second, as the Bruins netminder was ready to glove the shot. Boston used its Coach’s Challenge, to see if there was goalie interference by Roussel prior to the puck entering the net. The call on the ice stood.
Just 44 seconds later, Patricks Sharp’s wrister broke through Rask after he sped in on a breakaway. Rask reached back to glove the puck and kept it out.
Adam McQuaid and Bergeron were the Bruins racing after Sharp on the backcheck. Just as Rask kept the the puck out, McQuaid’s momentum took him into the post and dislodged the net, with the puck crossing the line.
The play was reviewed, with the call on the ice standing as a goal and making it 3-1 Stars.
With the Stars taking a two-goal lead off two reviewed goals, the Bruins needed to regroup heading into the second period. The calls didn’t go their way. They couldn’t let it affect them.
“It’s a good sign that you can regroup after a first period like that,” said Rask, who made 26 saves, while the Bruins outshot Dallas 42-29. “We made some mistakes and also kind of had some unlucky bounces there, tough goals, so we worked back at it, got the goals and got the reward, so it was a great win.”
“I think we were a little frustrated, but we had a calming sense of mind after that period,” said Marchand. “It just seemed like we were confident and we knew there was a lot of time left in the game and we know we’re a good team — especially the way we’ve been playing lately on the road, so we showed a lot of character.”
The second period received a jolt early on when Adam McQuaid dropped the gloves with Antoine Roussel and earned the takedown in his second fight of the season and first since Oct. 23 (Islanders’ Matt Martin).
Marchand’s second tally, with 6:36 left in the middle frame, came with just one second left on the power play and broke an 0-for-21 drought. It marked the first power play goal of the road trip. He ripped in the shot top corner with Jimmy Hayes posted up in front. Joe Morrow, in the lineup in place of Zach Trotman, had the primary assist on the tally.
“I think the last little while, we were getting our opportunities but the puck wasn’t going in,” Marchand said father man advantage. “We knew it was only a matter of time, so it was big for the team that the power play was able to come up big tonight and help us win.”
“I was excited [to get 30 goals] and the way that we won just makes it an enjoyable night and something we’re all excited about.”
Just 35 seconds later, Kevan Miller’s drive from the point deflected past Lehtonen to tie the game at 3-3.
From then on, the Bruins didn’t let up.
Eriksson’s 21st of the season gave Boston the go-ahead goal it needed late in the second. It came as a result of a strong forecheck by Krejci along the boards.
“We just put the pucks deep. We know that they have good offensive team, but we made them skate 200 feet, so we just put the pucks deep and we had a great forecheck,” said Krejci.
They put themselves in a solid position heading into the third. They just needed to continue to find energy and be stingy defensively. They did that and more.
Krejci’s power play drive made it 5-3 in the third. Another power play created plenty of momentum despite not converting. Brett Connolly potted the empty-netter late in the third to make it 6-3.
Torey Krug received a shot from Jason Demers with 1:34 to play. Krug was in pain on the ice. There was no update on him following the game. Demers went to the box for roughing and the Bruins got yet another power play. Beleskey then jammed in his first goal in 16 games.
Hard work pays off.
The Bruins will take that mantra back home with them.
“We have a couple of big games coming up at home and we need to be prepared to play,” said Marchand. “It’s a big win and I think we’re feeling pretty good, so we’re going to have to try and bring it home with us.”