Boston, MA --
On a night when two Bruins scored their 20th goals of the season (Chuck Kobasew, Blake Wheeler), Zdeno Chara
put together a Gordie Howe hat trick (with a goal, an assist and a fight) and Milan Lucic
earned a one-punch TKO (over Josef Melichar), the biggest story of the B's 3-1 victory over the Tampa Bay Lightning was the outstanding play of Manny Fernandez.
"He was obviously much better than he was in Toronto," said Bruins head coach Claude Julien to the gathered media in his postgame press conference. "He looked a lot more confident, he looked a lot more poised tonight.
"He made a couple of good saves at the right time and if he keeps getting better like that then we have [the same] situation that we had when things were going well – it was a good two-man tandem that gave us that strength in net."
"Well it certainly feels good," said Fernandez from the victorious B's locker room. "It feels good to get that one out of the [way]. You start to wonder, but again, this just shows the kind of team that we have.
"They played terrific in front of me tonight...they got me over the hump."
I think from here on out we let the personal stats take a hike and what's important is that we get two points every night - Manny Fernandez
And the sound of CLANG behind him in the third was music -- check that, was the Boston Pops -- to Fernandez's ears.
"That post there in the third --It felt good to have a post going my way," he said. "Finally."
Fernandez explained that Tuesday night's game was less of a grind than last Saturday in Toronto.
"Tonight it actually felt good," said Fernandez. "That first period helped me out, even if I only had four shots. I was finally seeing some shots straight on.
"It wasn’t 'hits a stick, hits a skate and goes in ten million directions.' It was a little bit more bang on."
Beyond the victory, Julien reitterated the importance of having two strong netminders.
"I think we’ve seen over the years, times where things happen," said Julien. "There’s things that can happen in any game that you can’t control and you’re going to need your second goaltender at some point.
"Detroit did it with Osgood and Hasek. Ward in Carolina replaced [Gerber]. There’s situations like that happen and I'm certainly not saying that that’s going to happen to us, but I'm just saying that it’s important to have your backup goaltender ready for action if called upon.
"And I think it’s only fair to our team, players and our team to make sure that he’s as sharp as he can be once we head into the playoffs," he said.
Fernandez agreed and intamated that whatever role or game time he garners is fine with him.
"I think from here on out we let the personal stats take a hike and what’s important is that we get two points every night," said the veteran netminder. "It doesn’t matter how it comes.
"There won’t be any easy ones from here on out. Even teams like tonight. They’ve got nothing to lose so we’ve got to make sure that we put it away, and we put it away early. Discourage them and go from there."