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Bruins Get Team-Wide Contributions with Key Players Sidelined

by Caryn Switaj / Boston Bruins

TORONTO, ON - Heading into Sunday night's game in Toronto, the Bruins were missing key players.

As a result, they pulled off a team effort in stepping up to fill the void, topping the Maple Leafs 5-2 at Air Canada Centre.

Third line center Chris Kelly was placed on long-term injured reserve Sunday afternoon, with a fractured right fibula suffered in Saturday night's 3-2 win over Pittsburgh.

Loui Eriksson is out with a concussion sustained early in that game, his second in the past two months. The Bruins are also without winger Shawn Thornton.

On the back end, the rugged Johnny Boychuk (back sprain) and Adam McQuaid (lower body) remain sidelined with injuries. On Sunday, McQuaid was placed on injured reserve.

"You have to fill it from within. I think we have enough players that can step up," Bruins Head Coach Claude Julien said prior to the matchup. "Those are parts of the game that you face every year, every team."

"It challenges the depth of your team and, hopefully, in a good way."

With the injuries, forwards Matt Fraser and Ryan Spooner were recalled from the Providence Bruins. Jordan Caron also slotted into the lineup.

"Every time we've been through that before, it's about everyone stepping up," alternate captain Patrice Bergeron emphasized.

"It's about everyone. It's not just one guy. We all need to step up and try to fill the void."

The Leafs led after the first period, 1-0. But the Bruins powered through a three-goal second period that saw them outshoot Toronto 17-9.

Back-to-back power-play goals from Carl Soderberg and Torey Krug gave the Bruins a 2-1 lead, before defenseman Kevan Miller wristed in his first NHL goal from the point for the eventual game-winner.

When Miller scored, Matt Bartkowski, along with the less experienced line of Carl Soderberg-Ryan Spooner-Matt Fraser, were all on the ice. When they huddled together for the celebrated, it represented the "youth" infusion on the Bruins, with a depleted roster.

"Getting that goal, I think it was not only big for the team but big for our line just to get some confidence and know that we can contribute too," said Fraser, who was parked in front of the net, providing a screen on Miller's goal, and quickly scooped out the first NHL goal puck for his good friend.

"Those are big shoes to fill in Thorty and Loui and Kells and our job is to step in and do what we can and kind of push ourselves. I think the biggest thing about having young guys in the lineup is we bring energy and we can definitely do that."

Jarome Iginla punched in the insurance goal late in the third period to make it 4-2 and Patrice Bergeron added an empty-netter for the 5-2 win.

The Bruins were not only without the aforementioned players. They also lost Dougie Hamilton to a lower-body injury in the first period. He was flying back to Boston on Monday, to be evaluated. He's likely out for the week.

"It shows the confidence the coaching staff has in all the young guys to step up and play big minutes. I know on the back end we lose a guy in Dougie and everyone has to step up and play a little bit more," said Krug.

"It's a good team win, overall it was a great effort and Chad played great and we're happy with that."

The win marked Chad Johnson's fifth in six starts as a Bruin. He made several key stops, making 28 saves on 30 shots overall.

"We just stuck to our game plan and do what we had to do to win games," said Johnson, of the Bruins' approach remaining the same, even with key players missing.

"I think guys can step in here even from the minors and everything and they can do the job. Millsy did a good job, Spoons and Fraze did a really good job tonight. They just slid right in there. Our best players I think were our best players tonight. Jarome got a goal and Bergy got one too."

"It was a big game for us. It was a good win."

The victory starts the Bruins road trip off on a strong note, as they head out to Western Canada for their three game swing.

It was a character win, considering the contributions and an emotionally charged few days for the Bruins.

"You have to believe in, when I say, 'your system,' - what you want to accomplish as a team, and the way we play is a very demanding way of playing," said Julien.

"But we feel our scouts and our upper management have done a good job of giving us the types of players that can play that game, so even with the guys that have been called up, they played a very similar style back in Providence and so we're asking them to do the same thing here."

"It's about believing in what you're team is all about and going out there and doing it, whether you're a young player or an older player, our game can never change."

"It doesn't matter whether we're healthy or not, we want to play a solid two-way game and that never changes."

Alternate captain David Krejci wasn't sure if this is the most depleted he's ever seen the Bruins in all of his seasons with the team, but he considered it pretty close.

"We had some key guys missing but other guys are going to have to step up and some guys definitely stepped up," said Krejci.

"It is what it is. You obviously want to play with the best guys that you can to have in the lineup but that's the not the case right now."

"Different guys are going to have to step up. And first game? Pretty good. So we just have to keep it going."

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