NEW JERSEY — The Bruins were playing their fifth game in seven days, their third in four days and their second in a row. But in their dressing room, there was no room for exhaustion, excuses or fatigue.
On Tuesday night, it was the same story as it has been for the nine games prior: another night, another battle, another win.
The Bruins topped New Jersey 4-2 at the Prudential Center to extend their winning streak to 10 games, their longest streak since November 2011 and their third 10-game streak under Head Coach Claude Julien.
“I just think our guys have been playing hard throughout the whole lineup,” Julien said after the game. “You know, we just finished five games here in seven days, and that's got to be tough on players, and in order to have that kind of success in that short span, you've got to be able to utilize your whole bench as much as you can.”
“These guys have allowed us to do that with their play, and so we've been able to kind of manage that better than if we've had some guys struggling, so it's been good. And you know, our guys just keep believing and doing the right things here, and that's given us opportunities to win.”
After each game of this win streak, we have heard the Bruins insist that they aren’t patting themselves on the back, that they still have plenty to work on, that they’re just trying to win one game at a time rather than worry about keeping a streak alive. On Tuesday, they once again were able to come out strong in the first period, getting on the board first and earning a lead they would never relinquish.
“We're kind of more worried about what we're doing in there than the other side,” forward Shawn Thornton said before the game. “But you know, every team brings a new challenge, and we have to be aware of where they are, what they're fighting for, but at the same time, just focusing on being consistent ourselves.”
Tuesday’s game marked the fifth straight in which the Bruins never trailed, and the victory came against a tough goaltender with plenty of familiarity with the Black and Gold: Martin Brodeur has seen the B’s 60 times in his career, but on Tuesday, the B’s got the best of him.
Chad Johnson won his third straight for Boston, making 22 stops on 24 shots.
One of the primary reasons the Bruins have been able to achieve so much success during this stretch is because of their ability to roll four solid lines, and never was that more apparent than on Tuesday, when three of those four lines found the back of the net. Patrice Bergeron struck first toward the end of the first, but early in the second, New Jersey took advantage of a power play to even the score at 1-1.
It was the perfect time for the B’s to show some character. Fifty-four seconds later after the Devils scored, Brad Marchand put the B’s back on top with his league-leading fifth short-handed goal of the season, taking a perfect feed from Bergeron to beat Brodeur.
“You can really take advantage of the power play sometimes,” Marchand said after the game. “Most guys are thinking offense and not really defense. Playing with Bergy, he makes a lot of great plays, so I just try to capitalize for him.”
“You have to give Bergy some credit," Julien added. "You know, that pass tonight is a heck of a pass, and obviously, you have to be able to shoot that puck. But you know, [Marchand] has been a beneficiary of a pretty good player playing with him there in short-handed situations, but let's not take any credit away from him. He deserves a lot of it. He finds ways to score those goals and tonight ended up being pretty big goal for us.”
Fifty-nine seconds after that, Jarome Iginla extended the Bruins’ lead to 3-1, earning his 556th career goal, which ties him with Bruins legend Johnny Bucyk on the all-time goals list. The milestone comes one day after Iginla played in his 1300th career game.
Chris Kelly capped off Boston’s scoring seven minutes into the third, taking Carl Soderberg’s feed at the top of the crease and hammering it home for his second goal in three games.
“I thought it was a great all-around play,” Kelly said. “You know, Carl wins a faceoff, D-to-D up to Loui [Eriksson] with a nice chip and Carl supporting, he made a nice pass to me going to the net. So I think it's one of those coach's dreams — a textbook play.”
Kelly was quick to deflect praise to both of his linemates.
“I think [Eriksson’s] got one of the best, if not the best, sticks in the league,” he said. “It's pretty impressive, the way he anticipates plays and knocks pucks down, and I think two or three times tonight, having good sticks creates scoring chances. So just doing a lot of good things out there.”
With the win, the Bruins improve to 11-2-0 in the second game of back-to-backs, and they have outscored opponents 40-14 in their last 10 games.
“I just think right now our whole team is feeling good about their games, and you know how when you feel good about it, you seem to have that energy,” Julien said. “Right now, our whole team has a lot of energy there.”
“Going into this month, we knew it was a big month,” Kelly said. “We play so many games, and the rest for the Olympic Break was nice for the guys that got it, and I think we just wanted to come back refocused and make a good push.”