David Krejci deked and fired in the empty-netter to seal a 5-3 win over the San Jose Sharks. It pulled the Bruins back to .500 with a 4-4-0 record on the season.
The Bruins had been holding a 4-3 lead over San Jose with 4:09 left in regulation, when Bergeron was caught with a four-minute high-sticking penalty.
"I think it was pretty huge from our group, especially when one of your best penalty killers is in the box for the last four minutes," Head Coach Claude Julien said postgame from TD Garden.
"You’ve got to give those guys as much credit as anyone for the win," said Milan Lucic.
Boston laid out for four blocks during the penalty kill, Tuukka Rask came up with five huge saves, and David Krejci and Chris Kelly combined for four defensive zone faceoff wins.
"In that situation, it’s desperation mode," said Gregory Campbell, credited with one of those blocked shots. "You’re really doing anything you can."
"Bergy kills enough penalties for us, so it’s important for us to do that for him."
Zdeno Chara stayed on the ice for nearly the entire penalty kill, with Dennis Seidenberg and Adam McQuaid combining for a strong defensive effort battling along the walls and around the net.
"I thought our guys, for the last four minutes, did an unbelievable job of battling through," Julien said. "So our special teams I thought were really good for us tonight, and we needed that against that team."
The Bruins and Sharks alternated power-play goals to start the game.
Brad Marchand put Boston on the board with his first goal of the season at 13:57 into the first period, when he walked into the right circle and fired one past Antti Niemi.
Strong puck movement on the Bruins' first man advantage of the game saw Lucic take a feed from Torey Krug below the goal line and set up Marchand with a quick pass.
Chara had just come off a long shift, so Lucic claimed the net-front position and Marchand got the nod to fill in.
Less than three minutes later, the Sharks countered with Logan Couture tipping a Patrick Marleau shot past Rask to continue their road dominance on the man advantage.
Boston reclaimed the lead, 2-1, nearly seven minutes into the second period when Krug scored just eight seconds into another Bruins' power play. He handled a pass from Lucic off the boards after a Krejci faceoff win, and fired in a laser. Krejci made sure to provide the moving screen.
"I think it definitely was the best game that we’ve played so far this season," said Lucic. "You saw we were hungry in the O-zone and hungry getting pucks to the net. We made some smart decisions in some important areas and it just seems like things are starting to head in the right direction."
The Bruins went right back on the power play after Krug's tally. They didn't convert despite many chances, but carried that strong play throughout the middle frame.
Julien deemed it their best second period of the season, up until lapses handed San Jose two goals within a span of 37 seconds in the final four minutes.
The Sharks came into the Bruins' zone on a quick counterattack, and Krug nearly swatted the puck away before Marleau stickhandled down low with his back to Rask and fed Couture at the top of the blue paint for the tying goal.
Thornton then batted a Joe Pavelski shot out of the air past Rask for the Sharks' 3-2 lead.
"I think it was 37 seconds of mental lapse, but that’s going to happen in the course of the year," said Kelly. "But it’s how you respond after that, and it’s that we handled ourselves accordingly."
The Bruins didn't let up, with a strong end to the second period and start to the third.
"I think that’s the most important thing, especially when your down, is to stick with the game plan and play desperate to get yourself back in the game," said Lucic. "Talking in the second intermission here, going out for the third, we just talked about being positive and sticking to the game plan and giving ourselves opportunities where we can get ourselves back in the game."
"We did that and were able to come out with a big win."
Seth Griffith was rewarded with his first NHL goal in his fourth game as a result. His goal at 4:50 into the third tied the game at 3-3.
After a Krug shot created havoc in front, Lucic and Krejci scavenged for the rebound. Lucic picked up his third primary assist of the night, getting a stick on the puck before it popped up to Griffith in the right circle.
With Niemi down, the 21-year-old Griffith fired it home with a purpose, threw his arms in the air and skated over to celebrate with the fans through the glass. Lucic immediately scooped up the puck. Krejci gave Griffith a hug and a tap on his helmet.
"It’s right here," Griffith smiled, of his first NHL goal puck. "[Lucic is] a great guy, so it doesn’t surprise me that he’s the one to pick it up. He did all the work in front, so maybe I should have picked it up."
Always naturally calm and collected, the rookie wasn't showing too much emotion, but was clearly happy to help the team.
"It was great. I’ve had a couple chances the past few games so it’s great to get the first one out of the way," Griffith said.
The Bruins' go-ahead goal came midway through the third, when Gregory Campbell deflected in his first of the season to put the Bruins on top, 4-3.
San Jose attempted to wrap the puck around the boards, but defenseman Marc-Edouard Vlasic couldn't get a stick on it. Daniel Paille forechecked hard and alertly took the puck to the net, with Campbell at the top of the crease. It was only the second game that Paille, Campbell and Simon Gagne were playing together as a trio.
"It’s a good start for them - I saw that line play with a lot of structure," said Julien.
The Bruins' bench boss also saw a good amount of grit from his team, and not just from the fourth line.
"Same old, same old - getting your nose dirty around the net, jumping on those loose pucks, and it made a big difference," he said.
"Great net-front presence. Not only that, but those guys are also picking up loose pucks around the net area and are scoring goals or getting great scoring chances. You get excited about the opportunities that you get, once you figure it out, and I think right now, everybody’s figuring it out that it’s going to be tough to score goals from the perimeter this year in this League and most of the year."
"If you want to be productive, you’re going to have to get your nose dirty."
The Bruins have now put up at least four goals in three straight games. At the other end, the defense is steadying itself out. Rask has been fairly strong, and the netminder posted 31 saves in Tuesday's win.
"We played a solid game…a couple of letdowns there, and we still bounced back after that," said Rask. "So, good character win and I think that’s exactly what the team needed right now."
The Bruins next host the New York Islanders on Thursday night.
"You’re back to .500," said Julien. "Meaning, now we’ve got to get going and get on the positive side of the standings here."