Even the defending Stanley Cup champions sometimes need an in-game reminder of how they need to play in order to be successful.
After his team fell behind Winnipeg, 2-0, just 10:10 into the first period Saturday night, Bruins coach Claude Julien used his timeout. The respite paid off, as Boston jumped on the board later in the period and went ahead with two goals in the second.
The Bruins have now earned a point in 12 straight games -- the first time they've done that since Jan. 27-Feb. 21, 2004, and won 11 of those contests after they downed the Jets, 4-2, at the TD Garden.
"Sometimes you're not going to always have great legs, it's a season, it's a schedule," said captain Zdeno Chara
, who got the Bruins' scoring going with a power-play goal at 16:38 of the first period. "And you are not always going to feel great. But the bottom line, if you don't have your legs you have to move the puck and that's what we were focusing on, moving the puck. And making simple plays and putting a lot of pressure on them especially in the offensive zone."
scored both of Boston's goals in the second period to provide the Bruins a lead they never relinquished. His first score came shorthanded after an end-to-end rush by Rich Peverley
, who got inside defenseman Dustin Byfuglien
and put the puck to the net, where Kelly buried it to tie the game 7:28 into the second.
Peverley was also the catalyst on Kelly's second goal with a rush into the attacking zone. Benoit Pouliot
then collected the puck Peverley left behind near the top of the left circle and fed a cross-ice pass for a Kelly one-timer – Kelly's ninth goal of the season. He scored just 14 all of last season.
"He's doing the right things, he's going to the right places to score goals, Peverley said of Kelly, who recorded his second two-goal game in the last five. "And obviously it proved again tonight. He's capitalizing on them, which is important."
The Jets, who lost in regulation for the first time in six games, put pressure on Tim Thomas
in the third period in an attempt to get the equalizer. However, Thomas made 16 of his 40 saves during the last period, including a point-blank stop on Evander Kane
with less than three minutes to play.
"He played really well and you have to give him credit, but we had 25 shots from the board with nobody in front of the net. Those pucks are easy to stop," said Jets goaltender Ondrej Pavelec
, who made 32 saves. "He did a very good job in the end and helped his team to get the win. We have to be better in front of the net, a lot of loose pucks there and we have to work on that."
Winnipeg finished its three-game road trip with a 1-1-1 record, which helped it stay in striking distance of the Southeast Division lead. The Jets finished the night six points in back of Florida, which lost 5-1 to Tampa Bay.
"It's a positive because I think once again, we come into a building like this and we play with this team, and aside from a few mistakes here and there, we are right there with these guys," said Winnipeg forward Blake Wheeler
. "It's a learning process for our team to learn how to win games and close games out and these guys do it better than anyone, that's why they went all the way last year. So if we get better in that area, we are going to be all the better for it."
Kane opened the game's scoring 9:31 into the game and Byfuglien made it 2-0 just 39 seconds later. That's when the Bruins snapped out of their early-game funk. With enough offensive support, Thomas was unblemished the rest of the way to earn his eighth straight win.
"Every two points is important. At the end of the year those points add up, if it's right after a shootout loss or right after another win," said Thomas. "I think it was important because every game is important in this league. It will definitely feel better over the next couple of days knowing that we have that win in our back pocket. Most guys would probably say that we weren't at 100 percent from our heavy game schedule, although Winnipeg played back-to-back games too and had to travel. We were on even terms there. But still not possibly feeling our best at the beginning of the game and not everything clicking and just finding a way to win, that's what this team does."