In all three of those games, the Bruins were dominant in spurts. In all three of those games, the Bruins had leads they couldn’t hold on to.
In the first two games, the Bruins went home with heartbreaking shootout losses. There was no way they were going to let that happen a third time.
On Wednesday night, after the 60th minute had expired and the score was tied, the Bruins rediscovered their resolve, and it got them a 3-2 win over the Wild at the Xcel Energy Center.
“You definitely want to get back on the winning column, and that extra point was really important for us,” said center Patrice Bergeron. “We definitely talked about it, even before the third period, to find a way and to battle. Even though we couldn't do it in the third, we still stayed with it and we found a way to get that point.
“It’s definitely a confidence booster for us.”
To say the Bruins were desperate for a win would not be an overstatement. Coming into Wednesday night’s tilt, they had just two wins in their last 10 games. In 12 of their last 15 games, they had scored two goals or less.
Finally, they broke that trend against Minnesota.
The Bruins made sure they got off to the right start, getting on the board just over five minutes in, courtesy of Carl Soderberg’s first goal in 15CK games. Soderberg took the puck down the right wing and carried it into the Bruins’ offensive zone, where he fired to Loui Eriksson in front. Eriksson couldn’t convert, but Soderberg pounced on the rebound and beat Niklas Backstrom.
“It’s great to play with Loui and Kells [Chris Kelly],” Soderberg said with a smile. “We love that, and we weren’t sure about the lines [coming into the game], but that’s a boost, for sure.”
The lead Soderberg provided, however, didn’t last. Just 27 seconds later, Minnesota’s Kyle Brodziak netted the equalizer, winning a battle along the boards on the left side and firing in a wrister that beat Niklas Svedberg blocker-side.
Over the course of the last 10 games, the Bruins have had resilience, but they haven’t had much luck. Fortunately, they had both of those things at the end of the first period. Determined to regain the lead heading into the first intermission, Bergeron streaked down the right side and fired a wrister on net from long range.
The knucklepuck seemed to be headed wide, but it caught a piece of Backstrom’s blocker, then a piece of the far post. Then, it was in the net, and the Bruins had a 2-1 lead.
“It took a bounce,” Bergeron said. “On the first bounce, [it] came back towards the net, but then I got hit, so I didn't even see what happened. But I saw it in the back of the net, and I'm not going to complain.”
The Bruins played the way they wanted to in the first period. The second period, however, was just about as big a challenge as they have faced all season. It started with a hooking call on Bergeron with about 12 1/2 minutes left in the frame. Forty-seven seconds later, defenseman Kevan Miller was whistled for tripping, giving the Wild 1 minute and 13 seconds of a 5-on-3.
The Wild couldn’t score — not on their power plays, and not for the rest of the period — and that was a result of Svedberg’s dominance. The backup goalie kept his team in the game, despite the fact that it was outshot 20-4 in the frame.
“He's been good, and you want that from your backup goaltender,” said Head Coach Claude Julien. “Your No. 1 is going to play most of the games, so when you need him, he needs to be ready to play, and he was tonight.
“I thought he made some good saves, he battled with a lot of traffic in front of the net, and again, gave us that chance to win, so kudos to him for being ready to play.”
Though the Bruins made it to the second intermission unscathed, the Wild weren’t done fighting. With just over eight minutes to play in the game, it was Jason Pominville who kept his team alive. After Svedberg made a big stop, the puck took a funny bounce in front of him and landed in the crease. Pominville got a stick on it and put it in the back of the net to even the score at 2.
“[It was] maybe kind of a bad rebound,” Svedberg said. “I thought we had it, and then it was kind of a weird situation.
“It kind of hit my blocker. I tried to come over to keep the rebound and get over there because it was kind of on the other side [of the crease], and it kind of bounced off. I think we had it, but we were going quick and they kind of got a stick on it.”
The Bruins were strong in the first period. They fell short in the second and in the third, but this time, at the end of regulation, they made sure they were ready to fight in the extra frame. They simply refused to let this story end the same way three consecutive times.
Just 1 minute and 30 seconds into overtime, Soderberg fought for the puck behind the net and sent it out in front for Eriksson. Eriksson deked and beat Backstrom stick side to give the Bruins their first win in four tries.
“It was nice to see our team in overtime kind of take charge there and find a way to win a hockey game by showing some real good determination,” Julien said.
With center David Krejci back in the lineup after missing 17 of the last 19 games with an undisclosed injury, Julien finally was able to deploy the lineup he expected to have at his disposal at the beginning of the season. He could put Eriksson on a line with Soderberg and Chris Kelly — a line that found enormous chemistry at the end of last season and has always managed to produce.
Krejci’s return also, of course, gave him the top line he had for a few games at the beginning of the season, as Krejci went right back to centering a line with Milan Lucic on his left and Seth Griffith on his right.
“I thought I played pretty decent,” Krejci said after the game. “Obviously, a couple of shifts that were tough, but other than that, I thought we played pretty well as a line. I'm just going to take it day by day, wake up tomorrow, and hopefully it's going to be a good day. But it feels pretty good right now after the game, so that's a good sign.”
The ripple effect that stemmed from Krejci’s return — and the stability it afforded to the rest of the lineup — was just as obvious from the start of the game as it was in the final score.
“The thing is, it's not just because I'm in the lineup,” Krejci said. “It’s just that everyone's kind of back [as far as] forwards, and we can have pretty much good stability all four lines. No one's playing with different guys, and everyone's back where they started the season, so that's the stability. And you know, Kells got back with the two Swedes, and they got the big two goals.
“It’s good to see all the lines going, and we got a win, so hopefully we can get another two points in Winnipeg.”
Julien didn’t understate the importance of Krejci’s return to the lineup, not only for the offensive spark he provides but also because of the trickle-down effect on the rest of the lineup.
“In the situation we're in, that one player coming in, it just seemed to balance a lot of things out with our lineup,” Julien said. “[There were] better-suited lines, for the most part, and when we played well, it showed.
“And the rest of it, it's just our game, our confidence. Every once in a while, we seem to fall on our heels, and when we fall on our heels, we get ourselves in trouble there. When we decide we're going to play again, like we did in overtime, you see our team back again.”
After the first 60 minutes, though the Bruins still and a shot at a win because of the play of their goaltender. Svedberg has now earned three of his four wins this season in overtime or in the shootout, and once again, he proved impenetrable under pressure.
“It’s always great to get wins,” Svedberg said. “That’s what you play for. That’s what you want to do, and it’s nice to be able to come in and get a win because I think we played some games where we worked really hard and we played decent games, but we haven’t got the results we wanted.
“It’s obviously really great feeling for us to get a win. [We’ve] just got to build off from it."