Patrice Bergeron was everywhere on Monday night – even the penalty box.
In a rare occurrence, the Bruins star center took a hooking penalty 30 seconds into the third period, adding two minutes to his 10 already served this year…then made it up to his teammates. Big Time.
Bergeron backhanded his 9th goal of the season midway through the 3rd period to tie the game, then nailed the game winning goal in the shootout to lead the struggling Bruins to a much needed 3-2 victory over the Toronto Maple Leafs at TD Garden in downtown Boston.
Milan Lucic netted his 5th of the year and goal tender Tuukka Rask stopped 23 of 25 shots in regulation and overtime, then stoned two of three Maple Leafs attempts in the shootout, winning his 15th of the season for the Bruins, who improved to 21-7-3 overall.
Joffrey Lupul scored his 4th and Nikolai Kulemin his 5th while netminder James Reimer stopped 27 shots but only 1 of 3 in the shootout as the Maple Leafs dropped to 17-12-4.
With the win, Boston takes over the lead of the Northeast Division from the Montreal Canadiens, who just happen to be the Bruins’ next opponent on Wednesday night. Their 45 points are miraculously somehow only five points less than than Eastern Conference leading Pittsburgh Penguins.
Since blowing a late lead against the Candiens in Boston just over a three weeks ago, the Bruins have struggled to find consistency and have blown late leads and fared poorly against teams currently in the playoff picture, including a pair to the Penguins…and almost a pair to the Maple Leafs until Lucic woke up the sleepwalking Bruins with his goal in the second.
Lupul scored his goal at 2:04 of the second period on the man advantage and Kulemin his on a breakaway at 8:01, taking a perfect pass from Nazim Kadri and splitting the Boston defenders for an easy wrister past a helpless Rask before Lucic beat three Toronto defenders after taking a Rich Peverley pass, weaving in from the blue line and lining a wrister through the five hole to get the Bruins within one.
Halfway through a physical and chippy third period, Brad Marchand kept a puck in the attacking zone with spirited play at the blue line and dumped the puck deep where defenseman Dougie Hamilton got to it and traversed the back of the net, flipping a pass right on Bergeron’s tape, who squeezed the puck between Reimer’s glove side and the post to knot the score at 2-2.
An uneventful overtime period led to the shootout, where Tyler Seguin and Bergeron both beat Reimer while Rask stopped two on the other end to preserve the victory.
The Leafs caught a red eye right after tonight’s loss to get home in time to host the Florida Panthers tomorrow night before hosting the Hurricanes on Thursday while the Bruins finally get the Habs back in the Garden on Wednesday night, then take a short roadie to Philadelphia and then Buffalo on Saturday and Sunday respectively.
Yes, the Bruins finally get their hated rivals back on Wednesday night, a game that they’ve been waiting for since skating off the TD Garden ice three weeks ago after blowing a 3rd period lead against the Habs, with a chance to break the spell that the Canadiens wove in their heads in that physical contest…
…and perhaps the feeling that a big monkey climbed on the Bruins’ collective back that night in early March was correct after all, as the Bruins have been searching for a consistent effort ever since, with Boston coach Claude Julien even trying to change the lines around to spark something – anything – proper out of his team.
Luckily, this is a talented Bruins team that have gotten by with that talent and a bit of good fortune while awaiting this rematch. Now Boston has to make good their opportunity and give that stupid monkey the beating of it’s life – oh, and the Habs, too.