Any win, any which way, would have sufficed. It could have come in a shootout, in overtime, by a goal, by four goals.
The Bruins opted for the latter, as they stunned the Blackhawks in Chicago with a 6-2 win on Sunday at the United Center. It marked their first six-goal win of the season, and their first six-goal win in Chicago since Feb. 21, 1999.
Six different Bruins scored and 12 players recorded at least one point, with Patrice Bergeron recording a three-point game and kicking off the scoring just three minutes into the first period. Nearly the entire roster recorded a shot on goal.
Two power play goals went into the back of the Hawks' net from Loui Eriksson and Dougie Hamilton.
Milan Lucic led a line of two young players - Ryan Spooner and David Pastrnak - and scored the game-winning goal for his first tally in eight games.
The fourth line chipped in, with callup Brian Ferlin playing in his second NHL game and earning his first NHL point, when he controlled the puck down low and centered a feed for Gregory Campbell to give the Bruins 4-1 insurance.
Reilly Smith capped off a four-goal second period for the eventual 6-2 final.
Tuukka Rask made his 17th straight appearance between the pipes, and aside from taking consecutive penalties six seconds apart at the end of the first period that he would like to have back, he continued his sharp play.
The netminder made 28 saves, and none more important than the one that stopped a Kris Versteeg shorthanded breakaway. The Bruins were only up 1-0 at the time. Eriksson made it 2-0 two minutes later.
"I think it helps just get a win on the road trip and go back feeling better about ourselves," said Dougie Hamilton. "Our game's improving, obviously, so nice to get some bounces today, get some goals, and feel good about ourselves."
The Bruins could all breathe a sigh of relief, if only just for a plane ride back to Boston, before continuing the hunt to secure a playoff position with Philadelphia and Florida chasing them.
"I think [it was needed] more for the psyche, and the confidence, because I know that the score last game was really disappointing yet I felt that our team had worked hard, played well," said Head Coach Claude Julien, who - along with his team - had seen encouraging signs in St. Louis despite the lopsided 5-1 result in favor of the Blues.
"And besides not scoring and the other way around, the kind of goals that went in, makes a big difference in the psyche. But you had 15 shots only allowed against St. Louis, you could see things stating to come around and [Sunday] was about being confident and showing your confidence."
"You know, obviously we struggled during this road trip, but it was a good, convincing win," General Manager Peter Chiarelli said following the game. "And again, it's not up to where we should have been on the overall road trip, but if you look back to the last period of the Edmonton game, I think our legs and hands are coming around. I liked the way we skated with the puck in the St. Louis game, and here too, so some promising signs."
The game could have gone badly for the Bruins after the first period.
Bergeron had scored the early goal, with Reilly Smith having jump to his game and providing the backhand setup from the goal line after Brad Marchand shake and baked into the zone. After Rask's save on Versteeg, Eriksson tipped home a Torey Krug point shot.
But Rask then took a delay of game with just eight seconds left in the first when he played the puck outside of the trapezoid, and then was called for a slash six seconds later. Jonathan Toews had deflected in a Patrick Kane pass on the power play with just 1.4 on the clock. In frustration, Rask slashed the post.
The slash at the post, according to Versteeg, hit his hand, and Rask was awarded two penalties within six seconds.
Boston made the kill to start the second, and then killed a too many men penalty, with Rask making six saves and Chris Kelly provided a big block. Zdeno Chara and Dennis Seidenberg were on the ice for the entire kill.
"Well that's the worst penalty…it's just a bad penalty to take and then you get scored on with 1.4 seconds left, so, frustrating, and I showed it and took another penalty," said Rask.
"You know what, we felt like our game has been going in the right direction, and St. Louis was a good game, just lost it. For me, it was a tough end of the period there," he said. "I took two consecutive penalties and we were short in the second period, so you just want to make sure that gets killed, and it did, and killed another one there, and never looked back after that, so it was a great game."
The Black and Gold pushed forward from there, with Lucic cutting into the middle and beating all five Hawks to put home a feed from David Pastrnak behind the net at 6:18 into the second. It came not long after Spooner, filling in for the injured David Krejci, rang the post.
"Mentally, we had to be strong and we had to stick with our game plan and not get rattled here," said Julien. "And we could have easily, with the situation we've been in, gotten flustered and stressed and could have gone the other way but our guys did a great job with staying with it and going back and executing what we wanted our team to execute from the start."
"I know Looch has had his tough times," said Julien. "But I thought he took charge of that line with some good solid effort, went to the net,s scored a big goal, was solid, and I thought he gave those two young guys some confidence."
Boston outhshot the Hawks 16-7 in the second period.
Ferlin protected the puck down low, skating back and forth in the trapezoid, until he created enough space and commotion for Campbell to slide in as the third man high and fire home his sixth of the season to make it 4-1 with 7:41 to go in the period as Jordan Caron provided the screen in front. The Bruins immediately sent the puck towards to bench to stow away for Ferlin's first NHL point. The rookie also finished the night with eight hits.
"We just kept it simple," said Ferliin, of his line's effort. "Got pucks in. We're all three big bodies, play a physical style, good on puck control, so we were just recovering pucks and Campbell got open in the slot and just made a nice shot."
"I thought I played with a lot more confidence from the beginning, definitely getting the first game under my belt was huge, so I thought we played well as a line and I thought we played really good as a team overall, so hopefully we can just keep it going and go home here and just keep building."
"They were doing well and you know, I could see Brian Ferlin getting more comfortable every game and getting strong along the walls, a smart player," said Julien. "And Jordy's just working hard - I know he's paid his dues time over and over again, but he's come in there and taken advantage of the opportunity, so that was good."
Anti Raanta relieved Corey Crawford in goal after the tally.
The Hawks' offensive weapons were limited, for the most part, and Rask was there to make the stops when he needed to. Chicago has now put up back-to-back 4-1 and 6-2 losses at the United Center.
"You know, we had layers coming back, didn't give them too many odd-man rushes there, because we had guys coming back and deflecting those plays and passes," said Rask. "And then we got to the attack and made the most out of our opportunities and scored some nice goals today too, so we worked on it in practice [on Saturday] and it looked like the guys got their confidence, making the plays when they're there."
Hamilton made it 5-1 Boston just three seconds into a power play late in the second, driving in his 10th of the season right off a draw won by Bergeron.
Smith put in the 6-1 dagger when he ripped one top shelf over Raanta's glove with just 3.1 remaining in the second period.
The Bruins continued playing hard, and blocking shots till the end. Chicago scored off a tip that banked off Rask and in with about six minutes to go in the game, but Boston was well on its way to a commanding 6-2 victory.
"You know, the only thing you can hope at that point is that you don't stop playing the way we did and for the most part, we didn't," said Rask. "We kept it going all the way until the 54-minute mark or so, and then kind of let go, but great win."
"Everyone wanted to stay accountable, we didn't want to cheat with anything," said Hamilton. "Just get pucks out and do whatever we could to stop them from scoring."
The Bruins now get a huge boost heading back to Boston. A happy room. A happy plane. And something, finally, to feel good about it.
"I think that you've got to create your own confidence and believe in yourself," said Chara. "It's not always easy, it's challenging, it's a long season, you've just got to stick with it and keep pushing."
"Eventually, everything's going to go back to the way it should be. For a lot of guys, it was a great example that we couldn't really get anything going on the whole road trip - it was kind of a little bit frustrating, a little bit disappointing - but [the win] was just a great example that we played the same way as we did against other teams on this road trip - obviously just a way better result, more goals for, and a lot less against."
"The road trip as a whole, we are not happy about it, obviously we got four out of 10 possible points, but sometimes that's the way it goes, we've just got to make sure we bring the game we played against Chicago to our next game at home. We need to do that."
"If you look at the scenario the other way, we're going back home with our heads between our legs and that's just a normal reaction from the team if we had gone home with two out of 10 points," said Julien.
"So it's important that we take [what we did in the win], bring it back home, and remember what we did here to kind of get things going in the right direction and if we can, we'll get ourselves back on track."