It came as a result of a 2-0 victory over the Toronto Maple Leafs, as they followed up Thursday’s 4-2 win over the Minnesota Wild.
Boston had alternated a win and a loss for six straight games before breaking the trend. They capped off a five game homestand at 3-2-0.
“We keep using the word consistency,” said Bruins Head Coach Claude Julien. “I think it’s a real good win — we’ve just got to keep trying to play the same way night after night. If we play that way every night, we’re going to give ourselves a chance to win.”
The game remained remained scoreless through 40 minutes, with solid goaltending at both ends of the ice, thanks to Tuukka Rask and James Reimer.
Zdeno Chara broke the stalemate with 3:43 left in the third period, when he walked in from the left point with time, stayed patient and ripped a shot through Reimer’s five-hole as David Krejci provided a screen.
Bruins defensive coach Doug Houda had given him the tip to pick that spot on the Leafs’ netminder, who was 5-0-0 in five straight starts coming into TD Garden and had gone 23 straight periods without allowing more than one goal.
“It’s a good feeling, especially when you win the game the way we did, playing strong for 60 and staying patient and waiting for our chances,” said Chara, who notched his third goal of the season with the game-winner.
Defense partner Zach Trotman teed him up from the right point.
“That was part of our game plan — that they tend to collapse their forwards, they get pretty low,” said Trotman. “Our forwards did a good job all night getting pucks low to high.”
“Once that one got up, I was even able to step in almost at the top of the circle it felt like and then they kind of left Zee alone on the off-side, so I just threw it over there, where there was less traffic.”
Chara scored on the Bruins’ 36th shot of the game. Brad Marchand fired in an empty-netter for their 37th and final shot.
“I think we had to work really hard to get this win,” said Julien. “They did a good job around their net. Obviously Reimer was extremely good — I can see why [Toronto Head Coach Mike Babcock] has been riding him, he was really solid in net for them.”
Boston had 67 shot attempts total in the game, with 15 attempts blocked, 15 missing the mark and 37 hitting the net. Only one made it past Reimer, on the Bruins’ second to last shot.
Rask may not have made as many stops on the scoresheet, tallying 22 saves for this second shutout of the season and the 28th of his career, but he was tested.
“Even if he didn’t face as many shots — I thought Tuukka made great saves,” said Julien. “A couple of breakaways, we had a couple of breakdowns in that second period that he came up big, but [the Leafs] do a good job, they collapse a lot and I think that’s why we had a lot of shots from the blueline tonight, but they were doing a good job of blocking them or taking away the rebound if there was one, by being down low.”
In total, the Bruins’ defensemen accounted for 17 of their 37 shots on goal and 33 of their 67 attempts. Torey Krug alone led all skaters with six shots on goal and 10 attempts.
The Bruins could have gotten frustrated by Reimer and the Leafs’ sound play. They didn’t.
“It was one of those things where not much was said between the second and third — we just went out and played,” said Krug. “It was one of those games that we had that feeling and it was nice to be rewarded at the end there.”
This was Boston’s first game of the season in which they entered the third period without at least wo goals combined in the score. It was the first scoreless game they have played entering the final frame.
“It’s good for experience, being in those 0-0 games — you know, in the third period being able to hang in there, stick to our game plan, be patient and finally get a late goal,” said Trotman. “I think that it’s big for our confidence, to know that we can hang on to games like that.”
“Even though it was a tight game, we got rewarded, so it was a great character win,” said Rask.
The Bruins’ goaltender was steady between the pipes, and made the saves when he needed to — particularly on three chances off the stick of Leafs forward Shawn Matthias, who had a breakaway midway through the first period that Rask kicked out. He followed that up with two more prime scoring chances off the rush, including one during the B’s lone power play of the night.
“The chances that we gave up were maybe in the offensive zone or the neutral zone and then they game at us with the rush, but I think our defensive game was solid today and we stuck with it,” Rask said.
“You know, Tuukka was huge for us, especially in the second period — he made some really big saves,” said Chara. “There was not much special teams out there so most of the game was 5-on-5 and a lot of battles.”
“Everybody tried to stay patient and disciplined and it was kind of a waiting who’s going to crack first, and, you know, one play decided pretty much the game, so a big win for us because everybody played well for 60 and battled hard.”
Not every Bruins’ win will feature a first period lead (they had scored a goal in the first 20 minutes in 13 of their previous 14 games), the NHL’s best power play staying hot and one of the League’s top three scoring teams putting up offensive numbers.
Some games call for grinding, for keeping on despite 24 shots on goal (and 42 shot attempts) through 40 minutes with nothing to show for it on the section of the score board that matters the most.
“I thought it was one of those situations where you were going to have two teams who were going to compete hard — and who was going to out-compete who? So we had to make sure it was us,” said Julien.
It was a game like the Black & Gold used to be known for — a low scoring affair with team commitment for the full 60, and solid goaltending between the pipes.
“That’s something we can certainly build on, understanding that if we’re stingy, we’re going to get that much better of a chance to win,” said Julien.
In their past two wins, the Bruins have allowed two goals combined, with both Rask and Jonas Gustavsson between the pipes. It shouldn’t matter who’s the last line of defense, though, if the Bruins are on their game and operating as one unit.
“Our guys are a lot more committed — whether it’s blocking shots, or even our penalty kill did a great job again,” said Julien. “There’s a lot of commitment, even physical commitment…and skating and getting into those dirty areas a lot more.”
“It’s fun when you have everybody committed to play the defensive game first and then obviously building off that or driving from that defense to the offense,” said Chara. “But when you have five guys committed on the ice playing defense, it’s great to see.”
The Bruins will now cap off their home-and-home series with the Leafs in Toronto on Monday night, having picked up two more points on them in the standings to jump three above them in the Atlantic Division.
“It’s early in the season and everybody wants to win and we need to stay focused and it’s pretty much right away when you win a game, you’ve got to focus on the next one,” Chara said. “Little things make a difference in a game.”
The Bruins may not be able to have the “love that dirty water” lyrics pumping through the Air Canada Centre, but they could still find a way to celebrate their third straight win with another victory against the Leafs.