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Merlot Line Powers B's Past Sens

by Caryn Switaj / Boston Bruins

OTTAWA, ON - It wasn't the way the Bruins wanted to start, but they certainly came up with the finish.

Powered by the Merlot Line, the boys in the spoked-B found a way to come back and win once again, this time 3-2 in the shootout, to give Boston its 10th straight win in Ottawa and best road start in team history with 20 points.

"Well, I'll tell you what. Kind of a little lucky to come out of here with a win the way we started the game," said Coach Julien postgame, to a group of gathered reporters. "We talked about them [the Senators] competing hard, they played pretty well, and that's what they did at the beginning and it put us on our heels."

Down 1-0 just 55 seconds into the game was the not the way the B's wanted to begin, especially on the road, but the next Ottawa goal that made it 2-0 could have been a backbreaker for a team that came out fairly flat.

Coach Julien quickly called a timeout and gave his team a quick and simple message.

The Bruins hadn't recorded their first shot on goal until Ottawa got the two-goal lead 7:18 in, but responded with a better effort. It appeared the Bruins would head into the intermission on par to regroup , having put up 16 shots after the sluggish start.

Not so fast. Leave it to the high-energy, grind line of Shawn Thornton, Daniel Paille and Gregory Campbell create their own luck.

After Zdeno Chara managed to keep the puck in the zone, Shawn Thornton tried to bank a shot off Paille and in. When that attempt didn't materialize, he threw another shot on goal and saw the puck trickle through Robin Lehner and over the goal line, with 44 seconds left in the first.

"Zee did his job keeping the puck in, I just tried to get open for him," said Thornton postgame, who was quick to say he was just lucky on the goal. "Actually think the play before I thought Piesy had one. That was more of an unfluky play - I was throwing it to his stick and I thought he had it, but it hit the other guy's stick.... I'll take it."


It may not have been Paille converting on that one, but there was no doubt about his tying goal 8:53 into the second.

After David Krejci picked off the puck, he cut a perfect pass right through the seam to a Paille streaking off the line change, who stickhandled in on the breakaway and put a beauty past Lehner for his second goal in as many games, having just scored in the 3-0 win over the Flyers on Saturday.

It marked his fifth goal of the season, and the first time he had scored in consecutive games since December 2011. (I like coincidental stats, so the fact that his last two-game stretch with goals came against both the Sens and Flyers as well was interesting to see. And both were B's wins, as he scored twice in a 5-2 win in Ottawa on Dec. 14 and once in a 6-0 win in Philadelphia.)

Thornton was happy to see his linemate pot another goal, and talked collectively about his line's production the past few games.

"I think for the last five or six games, I try not to put too much stock into how many points are line gets," said Thornton, voicing the mantra of his trio that plays a strong checking game, trying to disrupt the opponent more than anything.

"I think as a group, we've been better the last five or six games," he added "Maybe we've been rewarded the last couple games, but I think our pressure, our forecheck, our D-zone I think has been back to where it once was. I think that's a positive."

Last game, it was the full line effort that generated a goal for Paille, when Thornton had a takeaway at the blueline and sent the puck towards Campbell at the boards. A heads up play to a speedy Paille finished off the textbook gritty effort.

"I wouldn't say we're confident or anything," said Thornton. "But we're definitely heading back into the right direction."

The trio combined for eight of the B's 35 shots, and 7 of their first 24. To go with Thornton and Paille's goals, their center Campbell nearly converted at the end of overtime.

"It would have been nice, eh?" smiled the winger when asked about Campbell's close call in the extra time. "Merlot for everyone..."

Indeed. Campbell may not have scored, but David Krejci made sure he put one past Lehner for the shootout winner in the sudden-death round, after a patient Tuukka Rask made a left toe save on a trick-shot attempt by Kaspars Daugavins.

"They've been good lately, and they do things the simple way," coach said of the Merlot Line. " They throw pucks at the net, they crash the net there on the spot and that gave us that first goal."

"And then the second one, Dan comes off a change and happens to be in the right place at the right time - he made sure he buried that shot."

"They've been pretty good for us. We're certainly happy with their performance lately."

"The last few games, you could see that the third and fourth lines, if you want to call it secondary scoring, was big for us," said Captain Zdeno Chara following the win.

"We can't always rely on the first and second lines. The third, and fourth line is big for [us] and the last few games they were obviously the difference makers for us."

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