BOSTON - Some 35 games and over nine months had passed since the last time Jimmy Hayes was able to celebrate finding the back of the net.
So when Hayes finally put one home on Sunday afternoon, he marked the occasion with a fitting display of emotion.
After tipping a David Krejci pass by Ben Bishop for Boston's third goal, Hayes reached over his shoulder and mimicked tossing a monkey from his back.
The truth is, Hayes could have been acting for the entire Bruins roster, which had struggled to create any offense over the last week by scoring just four goals in their previous three games.
But thanks to a spark from Hayes - and the rest of the fourth line - Boston cruised to a 4-1 victory and snapped a three-game losing skid.
Video: TBL@BOS: Hayes' beautiful redirection goes top shelf
"It's been a struggle to score some goals here," said Hayes, who registered a plus-2 rating in 11:19 of ice time. "To put one in is a nice feeling. We had been struggling to score goals…to put a four spot on a solid team like that is good for our confidence."
Confidence has been hard to come by for Hayes this season. He was a healthy scratch for two games in early November and through Sunday had not registered a point.
But the Dorchester native and former Boston College standout tried to practice patience.
"Just have to continue to work hard," said Hayes. "Put your head down and find a way to put a puck in the back of the net. I started to get some chances here lately. To get one to go in was nice."
In recent games, Hayes has played as the fourth-line right wing alongside center Dominic Moore. The veteran pivot tried to lend a hand to his new linemate as Hayes struggled to find the scoresheet.
"Sometimes you end up trying too hard sometimes," said Moore. "We've all been in those kinds of situations. It was great to see him get that monkey off his back.
"I think every player has been in a tough stretch. We were all, obviously, pulling for him. He's working so hard and he really works his butt off every night, so it was really nice to see him get rewarded tonight."
Moore tallied his sixth goal of the season on Sunday to give the Bruins a 1-0 lead and match his total from all of last season. His offensive outburst has been a pleasant surprise - and along with his veteran presence, sound penalty killing, and strong faceoff abilities, has helped the 36-year-old become one of the Bruins' most consistent players this season.
"That's a lot of goals for a guy that plays mostly fourth line and kills penalties," said Bruins coach Claude Julien. "He's a committed player. He's a veteran player. He knows how to play it, and right now things are going well for him. When things go well for you, you continue to hang to it as long as you can.
"He's been a real good contributor for us, especially when you know that we haven't been scoring much - opened the scoring tonight - and no doubt probably took a lot of pressure off of our team."
Video: TBL@BOS: Moore bangs in a pass from Miller
Moore, Hayes, and Ryan Spooner, who skated on the left wing, were a combined plus-5.
"We've been struggling to score goals of late," said Moore, who has a goal in two of his last three games. "I think every game is important in every game. We obviously want to start by defending well, but then finding ways to create chances, finding ways to hit the back of the net. We were fortunate enough to do that today."
Spooner was playing his first game on the fourth line and showed a commitment to playing an aggressive style. On Moore's goal, Spooner won a puck battle along the boards and got the puck to Colin Miller at the point. Bishop stopped Miller's shot, but Moore was able to swat home the rebound at 2:24 of the second.
"I felt a lot better than I have in the past," said Spooner, a plus-2 in 10:38 of ice time. "I was playing a little bit, I guess, timid and kind of afraid, but I'm 24 now so I've just got to go out there and I just have to play and that's what I'm going to do.
"I'm just trying to stay as positive as I can and I'm just happy that we won. Again, I'm just going to go out there and play and try to have fun with it and that's what I've been trying to do."
Rask Stands Tall Once Again
Tuukka Rask was 2:39 away from his fourth shutout of the season, before Victor Hedman's shot deflected past him to bring Tampa Bay within 4-1. The netminder was immense once again, making 30 saves for his 12th win of the season.
Rask, who made five saves in just a few seconds during an incredible sequence midway through the third, is now 12-4-0 with a 1.63 goals against average and .940 save percentage. He is responsible for every Bruins win this season, as Boston is 0-6-0 without Rask between the pipes.
"Well, good thing I don't have a bonus for that," Rask joked when asked about losing the shutout.
Video: TBL@BOS: Rask makes a spectacular series of stops
Defense Loses Another
Already without Zdeno Chara, the Bruins lost John-Michael Liles just five minutes into Sunday's win over Tampa Bay. Liles tripped over Bishop's stick and crashed into the boards. He lay on the ice for several minutes, before being helped off the ice.
During the game, it was announced the blue liner would not return with an upper-body injury.
Video: Julien speaks with media after Bruins' 4-1 win
"Obviously he crashed into the boards, and I think the replay I saw, it might have been a knee to the head, so they were obviously evaluating him for that injury," said Julien. "But I was told he wasn't coming back, and from there I don't know what more is happening."
Rask was impressed with the way the defense handled playing down a man for the majority of the night.
"They stepped up big tonight," said Rask. "We lost Johnny there and Adam [McQuaid] was gone for a couple of minutes and then Torey [Krug] got the [seven-minute] penalty and we had to play with four defensemen and that's never easy.
"So the guys did a great job not extending their shifts and not staying out there too long. Great effort by the defense."
David Backes scored the eventual game-winner on the power play when he tipped home a Torey Krug shot from the point at 12:30 of the second. It was Backes' fifth goal of the season….David Pastrnak tallied his team-leading 13th of the year at 9:43 of the third when he threw one on net from the right corner...Colin Miller played for the first time since Nov. 12 in place of Joe Morrow. He played 21:47 and assisted on Moore's goal.
Video: TBL@BOS: Backes tips in Krug's wrister for a PPG