Boston, MA --
The solitary point that the Bruins earned Thursday night might seem bittersweet after coming back from down four-to-nothing to tie the game, but there's no doubt that the comeback saw many positives developing out on the ice: better play from the special teams, another big goal by a rookie and the return of Tim Thomas
are just a few of the rewards that Santa stuffed in the B’s stocking -- ostensibly for not giving up against the Pittsburgh Penguins.
One big stocking stuffer was the Bruins penalty kill.
Boston was five-for-five on the PK against a Penguins power play that came into the game ranked ninth in the NHL with a conversion rate of 19.6%.
This was a huge improvement for Boston who not only killed three power plays in a row to start the second period, but also notched their second shorthanded goal of the season. That goal came after Marc Savard
skated the puck up the ice and ripped a shot to the pads of Pittsburgh goaltender Ty Conklin. Jeremy Reich then won the ensuing face-off and tipped it to P.J. Axelsson who beat Conklin glove side to make it 4-2.
“It got us closer,” Axelsson said of his goal. “After 4-1, I think we played a little better.
"It was nice to see that we could come back and that we didn’t quit.”
Again, not quitting is the major theme to take from the Bruins disappointing shootout loss. Ulike their loss to Ottawa on Tuesday, on Thursday their never-say-die attitude paid off with a point.
“We needed that point,” said Dennis Wideman. “(It was good) to come that close and score another goal late. We came close to tying it up against Ottawa, but we just couldn’t get it. But this time we tied it up, and we at least got a point out of it.”
Wideman tied the game at 17:05 of the third period with the team’s second power-play goal of the night.
“It felt really good,” he said. “I am starting to get some opportunities on the power play and to get points.
“But I am just shooting at the net.
"And as long as our forwards keep doing their job of getting open and getting those rebounds when we get it up to them, we, (the defenseman) are going to get (more points),” he said.
Admittedly, it is still frustrating to continue playing from behind -- but the result was a departure from past frustrations.
“We did the opposite of what we have been doing in the past,” Wideman said. “We had a bad first period. We came out, we weren’t sharp, and we found ourselves behind. But it was a great step for us to be able to come back out and tie it and at least get a point out of it.”Andrew Ference
, who got the crowd in the game after checking Pittsburgh’s Sidney Crosby to instigate him into his first career NHL fight, thinks that the Bruins comeback tonight was just a matter of simplifying the game.
“If you look at the goals, it was just forwards going to the net, getting in the way and looking for rebounds,” Ference explained. “It was just saying, ‘Okay, calm down, take a couple breaths, and let’s simplify the game.’
“There wasn’t any big play, it was just smarting it up and doing the little things that would help our cause.”
In addition to their hard work ethic and improved play of their special teams, tonight marked the second game that a rookie forward brought the B’s back within one when Petteri Nokelainen put his third goal of the season through Conklin’s five hole. As a result, Boston remains the only team in the NHL to not lose two consecutive games in regulation.
But the B's need wins in order to stay in the upper echelon of the Eastern Conference. Hopefully, after delivering a point to The Garden via shootout, hopefully Santa will be able to deliver a big "W" in regulation when the Bruins take on St. Louis Saturday afternoon.