Bruins

Haggerty: Give Julien an assist in big Bruins win

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Haggerty: Give Julien an assist in big Bruins win

MONTREAL David Krejci might have scored the game-winning goal and Tuukka Rask might have stopped 20 shots while chaos reigned around his net at the always wild Bell Centre.

But credit Bruins head coach Claude Julien as much as anybody in a Black and Gold uniform for pulling out an improbable win over the Canadiens in Montreal on Wednesday night.

The Bruins offense looked as stale as a loaf of Les Miserables bread through the first two periods. Both Nathan Horton and Tyler Seguin were being kept under wraps and had one total shot on net between them, and it was clear being forced to replace Brad Marchand with Gregory Campbell on the wing due to injury wasnt exactly working out to be an offensive upgrade.

The Bruins headed into the final 20 minutes trailing 1-0 and it looked like another exercise in Boston frustration at the Bell Centre was looming. But Julien did what some thought he might not do: he busted up a David KrejciMilan LucicNathan Horton line thats been dynamite through the first three weeks of the season while looking for a spark to ignite his team.

He replaced Horton with Seguin on the right wing to start the third period, and thats when things blew up in the best way possible. With Brad Marchand out it made all the sense in the world to create one super offensive line with Lucic, Krejci and Seguin, so they could get a little traction with injuries cutting into their team speed and overall skill level.

The re-jiggered LucicKrejciSeguin line popped in two goals in its first two shifts of the third period to give the Bruins a 2-1 lead two minutes in, and that would be enough to hold on for victory at the Bell Centre.

In the third period we needed to create more scoring chances. I dont think we had many at all in the first two. So we tweaked the lines and the guys responded well, said Julien. It was just combinations. There are going to be some nights when things arent going well, and we all know that the Krejci line has been awesome for us.

Tonight they didnt seem to be able to generate much. So I said why dont I move a few guys around and see if we can generate a spark. Guys responded well. Seguin drove the net on our first goal and Horton almost scored on his first shift with a great chance. So things worked out and it gave us an opportunity to score some goals.

The Bruins had been in perimeter mode for much of the first 40 minutes, and that was a big part of the problem. Carey Price never broke a sweat in the first period while waiting over 12 minutes for Boston to register their first shot on net, and the Bruins really never waged any dangerous scoring bid in the first two periods. The best chance was for Seguin on a wide open lane to the net, but the 21-year-old pulled up for a short-side shot attempt that harmlessly hit the side of the net rather than driving the cage.

The new look Bruins finally did some damage in the third period when they attacked the net with aggressiveness and purpose. Seguin won a puck battle behind the Montreal net on the forecheck, passed to Krejci and then circled back to the net where the slick center found him for a backhander that tied things up at 1-1.

Less than two minutes later good plays by Zdeno Chara and Johnny Boychuk to escape the defensive zone kick-started the Bs transition, and Seguin broke into the attack zone with speed. He floated a saucer over to Lucic on the left wing, and then both Seguin and Krejci headed straight to the net. The number of attackers overwhelmed the Montreal defense and a charging Krejci redirected the Lucic pass to the front for the game-winning goal.

The players couldnt really explain why Juliens move worked, but credited their coach for seeing exactly what needed to be done.

Coach just said he wanted to get a spark and well see what happens. Obviously with us popping in two goals there it worked out, said Seguin. Call it spark or call it different mindsets. I think anybody that has played this game knows that its at least 75 percent mindset out there. We went out there with a little spark in us like Julien said and it worked out.

That makes three goals and a team-leading nine points in nine games this season for Krejci, who appears to be on a mission to start this season. But one has to expect he wants to keep things together with Lucic and Horton as his bookend power forward wings after things have gone well for the majority of the last nine games.

Obviously we switched the lines a little. We didnt have much offense in the first two periods and in the third period we came out hard, said Krejci. It was one of those things where the puck finds the stick, and the stick finds the net twice. I was happy for those two goals and it was a really big game to win.

All we were thinking about going into the third period was playing strong and we got a big two points tonight.

Dont expect these to be the lines the Bruins open up with Saturday afternoon against the Tampa Bay Lightning. Julien said he had fingers crossed that Marchand will play this weekend, and that would mean a return to line combination normalcy for the top six forwards as weve known it through the first nine games of the season.

That may change if the Nose Face Killah is still sitting on the sidelines with an upper body injury, however.

The Lucic-Krejci-Seguin combo does give the Bs coach a trump card, though.

He can play it to wake up the Boston offense when the inevitable stagnant times hit over the next few months of a regular season thats about to get very challenging.

Bruins take down Islanders, extend point streak to 15 games

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Bruins take down Islanders, extend point streak to 15 games

GOLD STAR: Who else but Patrice Bergeron? The Bruins center finishes with three goals and his second hat trick in a span of six games, and now has 11 goals scored in his last 11 games during a wicked goal-scoring spree. Bergeron clearly wasn’t just about the goals as he also finished with four shots on net and won 12-of-18 face-offs in his 15:39 of ice time, but it’s amazing how he’s been able to get into so many great scoring positions while always facing the other team’s best defensive players. It speaks to just how good he is when he gets those chances in the slot, and how good both Brad Marchand and David Pastrnak are at getting the puck to him in the spots where he can do his offensive damage. Bergeron now has 19 goals on the season and continues to roll out some serious offensive numbers for a Bruins team that’s just destroying their opponents. Bergeron is the first Bruins player to score two hat tricks in the span of six games since Rick Tocchet did it in five games back in 1996 for the Black and Gold.  

BLACK EYE: The Barclays Center shouldn’t be housing NHL hockey games, and thankfully won’t be in the near future when the Isles move out of Brooklyn. That being said, it had to demoralize whatever fans have made the move to Brooklyn to see so many Bruins hats get tossed on the ice from Boston fans after Bergeron scored his third goal of the game. The Islanders games have always felt like de facto home games for the Black and Gold given the huge contingent of B’s fans that make the trip to New York for these games. But it’s all the more of a gut punch when it turns into those road warrior Bruins fans loudly and animatedly celebrating goals, wins and hat tricks in front of the Islanders players and coaches. That’s a tough spot for them to be in during what’s supposed to be a strong home ice presence, but that’s life at a Barclays Center that makes me pine for Nassau Coliseum. 

TURNING POINT: The Bruins gave up the first goal of the game on a bad Brandon Carlo turnover in the D-zone, and it could have gone against them in the second night of a back-to-back on the road. But the Bruins dug in, reversed the momentum and instead found the Bergeron line to lead the way with their first goal scored in the game. After that they just continued to pour on the hard work, the offense and the Bergeron goals as he scored three overall and the Bruins rode the momentum wave into five goals and a strong finish in the third period. In two straight games the Bruins have given up the first goal, and it doesn’t even cause them to bat an eyelash. 

HONORABLE MENTION: On the second  night of a back-to-back game Zdeno Chara logged 25:32 of ice time, blocked four shots including a couple during a penalty kill that left him shaking his right hand in pain on the bench and threw three hits while holding the high-powered Islanders to just a couple of goals in the game. It wasn’t a particularly dazzling night of work for the 6-foot-9 defenseman, but the Isles really had limited offensive looks thanks to Chara playing big, strong and powerful in the defensive zone. The big ice time number is perhaps most impressive of all coming after Chara also played a big role in Boston’s win over the Habs at the Garden on Wednesday night. We’re still a long way away from Chara proving he can do this kind of thing night after night in the playoffs as a 40-year-old, but he showed a little something on Thursday night. 

BY THE NUMBERS: 15 – the number of consecutive games with a point for the Bruins as they’ve posted an 11-0-4 record over those games, and matched a 15-game point streak from the 2011-12 season in the year after they won the Cup. 

QUOTE TO NOTE: “I like the way we closed out the game in the third period. In a back-to-back there were issues at the beginning and ending of the game, and we fought through it and didn’t let the game get away from us. In the third period in their building they were going to make a push, and I thought we were really, really good in terms of generating the offense and keeping the puck away from the front of the net. I was proud of the guys for that. That was a good, strong finish.” –Bruce Cassidy to NESN postgame about what we liked most in the 5-2 win over the Isles. 

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Bergeron notches hat trick as Bruins defeat Islanders, 5-2

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Bergeron notches hat trick as Bruins defeat Islanders, 5-2

NEW YORK - Patrice Bergeron scored three goals to lead Boston to a 5-2 victory over the New York Islanders on Thursday night, giving the Bruins at least a point for the 15th consecutive game.

Brad Marchand had a goal and two assists as Boston improved to 11-0-4 since its last regulation loss Dec. 14 against Washington - its best stretch since going 15-0-1 from March 2-30, 2014. Ryan Spooner had a goal and an assist, and Anton Khudobin stopped 22 shots.

Jordan Eberle and John Tavares scored for New York, which has dropped seven of 10 - with each of the losses coming in regulation. Jaroslav Halak made 29 saves while facing fewer than 35 shots for the first time in his last 11 games.

Bergeron completed his third career hat trick - just 12 days after a four-goal, five-point night at home against Carolina - when he took a pass from Marchand, spun and fired the puck in from the left circle at 3:45 of the third period. It was his 19th goal of the season.

Tavares pulled the Islanders within two with about 5 1/2 minutes remaining with his 25th goal. Marchand capped the scoring with his 20th with just over a minute to go.

Boston won for the second straight night after giving up the first goal of the game in the first period. The Bruins did the same thing in a 4-1 win at home against Montreal on Wednesday night.

In this one, they took control with two goals in the second period and sealed it with two more in the third.

Spooner put Boston ahead 2-1 near the midpoint of the second. Off a faceoff in the Islanders' zone to Halak's left, Spooner backhanded the puck past the goalie for his seventh at 9:47.

Just 15 seconds after New York's Anders Lee was sent off for tripping, Bergeron extended the Bruins' lead to 3-1. After Torey Krug's initial shot went off Islanders defenseman Adam Pelech's leg, Bergeron got the puck on the right side and beat Halak for his 18th of the season with 6:11 left in the middle period. Krug got his 200th career assist.

Eberle got the Islanders on the scoreboard 7:35 into the game. Mathew Barzal intercepted Brandon Carlo's pass in the Bruins' zone and passed to a streaking Eberle, who beat Khudobin from the inside edge of the right circle for his 15th. Barzal got his 32nd assist and 47th point - both tops among all NHL rookies.

The Bruins tied it with 6:19 left in the first when Bergeron took a pass from Marchand and fired it past Halak from the inside edge of the right circle.

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