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Despite Bergeron's Absence, Bruins Get Julien his 500th Win

by Caryn Switaj / Boston Bruins

ST. PAUL — The Bruins may not have had Patrice Bergeron in the lineup on Saturday afternoon in Minnesota, but they still got the job done with a 4-2 win over the Wild.

It gave them two straight wins to start their six game road trip, following up Thursday’s 6-2 victory in Winnipeg.

The still-hot Brad Marchand notched his 12th goal in 12 games with a shorthanded tally, David Krejci finished off a give-and-go with David Pastrnak just 35 seconds after the Wild tied the game, and Loui Eriksson put home his 200th career goal off a breakaway for the game-winner.

With Bergeron deemed day-to-day and missing his first game of the season, Ryan Spooner filled in alongside Marchand and Brett Connolly for most of the game. Joonas Kemppainen slotted back into Boston’s lineup at center after being recalled from the Providence Bruins on Friday.

“You know, with Bergy, how can players not buckle down here and play hard in his absence?” said Head Coach Claude Julien, who earned his 500th win behind an NHL bench. “Because we know what he gives us every night and there’s no doubt he’s feeling bad about not being to help us out right now.”

“So it’s important for us to make him feel a lot better by going out there and playing the way we did this afternoon.”

On the penalty kill in the first period, Krejci and Marchand played give-and-go in the zone, with Marchand tapping in Krejci’s return pass for his fourth shorthanded goal of the season and 27th overall.

Bergeron usually served as Marchand’s PK partner, but in his absence, Krejci didn’t miss a beat.

“He is a great player and we talked a little bit in the room before we were out there and the big thing is just communication,” said Marchand. “Talking to each other, letting each other know where we are, and he made a great play there.”

“Whenever you lose a guy like Bergy, you can’t replace him,” said Marchand. “But if everybody picks it up and plays a little bit better, then you can fill that gap a little bit. I thought we played a pretty sound game we got two points which is huge.”

Krejci followed up his assist with a second-period tally of his own.

The Wild tied the game at 1-1 midway through the second period, after a D-to-D breakout behind the Bruins’ net got picked off.

But Boston answered right away with Pastrnak and Krejci combining just 35 seconds later off a 2-on-1 rush.

Pastrnak made a return pass cross-ice to Krejci at the goal line for the quick score. Wild forward Nino Niederreiter happened to be crashing into the post at the same time. The net was knocked off its moorings, but not before the puck crossed the line.

After a brief review by the officials, the goal stood with 8:12 to play in the second.

“I’m trying to do my best every game. You know, with Bergy being out, obviously that meant a little more ice time,” said Krejci, who logged 20:53 in ice time, including 3:32 on the penalty kill. “I thought guys handled it pretty good, but hopefully we can get him back as soon as possible.”

“He had it going,” Julien said of Krejci. “You could tell right from the get-go there in the first period that he had things going, and we all know when David decides to play, he could play by himself on the line and still make things happen.”

“So he was a real good player for us, especially in Bergy’s absence.”

The Bruins also got help from Kemppainen, who centered Eriksson and Jimmy Hayes for most of the night.

“You know, I thought Kemppainen came in and did a really good job, played hard and was a solid centerman for us,” said Julien. “I saw a difference in his forechecking, getting involved more on the offensive side of things, so that was a big help for us as well.”

The Bruins went on their fifth power play of the game early in the third. Though they didn’t convert, they picked up momentum.

About two minutes later, Eriksson potted his 200th career NHL goal, and the eventual game-winner, to put Boston up 3-1.

After Hayes through a heavy hit and knocked the puck loose, Ryan Spooner banked a pass up to Eriksson streaking in on a breakaway. Eriksson slid his bid five-hole through Darcy Kuemper.

“Another player who I think, the last two games, has been a real good player for us,” Julien said of Eriksson.

“That’s a big number, actually. There’s not many guys in the league who have 200 goals,” smiled Krejci. “He’s had a good career so far, so hopefully he can keep it up and put some more goals in the net.”

Jonas Gustavsson got the call between the pipes for the Bruins, starting his first game since Jan. 26 — the Bruins’ final game before the All-Star Break when he left the game early due to his irregular heart rate.

“When you get the call, you just want to be ready to go and not think too much and just go out and play,” said Gustavsson. “And that’s what I’ve always said — I just try to work hard in practice, that way I feel confident going out there in the game, no matter if I played recently or a few weeks ago.”

He finished the game with 31 saves on 33 shots.

“He’s 10-3-1 right now — he’s been up the task every time we’ve asked him to [be],” said Julien. “He comes in really well prepared and he’s done a good job for us.”

“Guys helped me see the puck, cleared those rebounds, blocked a lot of shots, too,” said Gustavsson, who stopped 13 of 14 shots he faced in the second. “So I think together we played pretty good back there.”

The Bruins had to start the game killing a penalty just 35 seconds into the first period. A game filled with special teams saw the Bruins go 5-for-5 on the penalty kill and 0-for-6 on the power play.

The former stat was the one that mattered the most, though, especially given Marchand’s shorthanded tally.

“Our PK did a really, really good job,” said Krejci. “Your goalie has to be your best PKer and that’s what he was, so, great special teams.”

“We’ve got a few hours before the next game, so get some rest and get ready for [Sunday].”

The Bruins will jet off to Detroit to face the Red Wings on Sunday at 3:30 p.m. ET to finish off the afternoon back-to-back.

Whether Bergeron will suit up or not is unknown, but no matter what, the Bruins will battle through the situation — hoping to get their third straight win on this six game road trip, and get Julien win No. 501 behind the bench.

“You know, every time somebody goes down, important player or not, he knows how to make his players play their best hockey,” Krejci said. “And you know — that’s what he did.”

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