Bruins Rake Leafs, Return To Win Column On The Road

Chris Bourque was the difference in this one as this first-period goal led to the Bruins' sixth win in eight games.

Chris Bourque was the difference in this one as this first-period goal led to the Bruins’ sixth win in eight games.

We’ve seen it before from this Bruins team. A player removed from the lineup because he’s just not the best option at the moment only to be forced back in by an injury to another. In the 2011 Stanley Cup Finals, it was Shawn Thornton who was pulled for the hottest rookie in the world, Tyler Seguin only to be pressed right back into duty in the next game because of the injury suffered by Nathan Horton.

Interestingly, the current situation involved Thornton again, but this time he was the one getting hurt. Chris Bourque was removed from the Bruins’ starting lineup for the Buffalo game on Thursday because he had done virtually nothing for the team in the first six games of the season. It would be the only game he missed, however, due to the concussion suffered by Thornton in Thursday’s loss. I guess the time off was all that Bourque needed as he provided the first and only goal of the night for the Bruins and they left the sold out Air Canada Centre with a 1-0 win over the Maple Leafs in the 12th shutout of Tuukka Rask‘s career. What a difference a few days make.

“I knew I could do it,” said Bourque, who hadn’t scored an NHL goal since Dec. 30, 2008 with the Capitals. “It’s just going out there and proving it. Just happy to contribute. Kelly and Pevs made a hell of a play there, I just drove and put it in the open net.” After going the first six games of the season without one, the third line has a goal two assists in each of the last two.

There was no doubt he was relieved to get his first goal as a Bruin and his first in more than four years. His fist pump celebration mirrored that of another Bourque – a quite famous one who wore No. 77 for 20-plus years in the old Boston Garden – and his father, Ray.

Chris Bourque celebrates the game-winning goal and his first in the NHL in over four years.

Chris Bourque celebrates the game-winning goal and his first in the NHL in over four years.

The goal came at 8:54 of the first period and was made possible by the speed of Chris Kelly. He dished the puck to Rich Peverley on the right side and then burst down the middle, beating every Leaf to Peverley’s dump-in. He made a nifty backhand pass to the front of the net, where Bourque would poke it in before knocking the net off its moorings. He now has two career goals in the NHL.

“There’s your net drive,” exclaimed a mighty satisfied Jack Edwards from the press box.

Boston improved to 7-0-0 in their last seven meetings with their rivals from north of the border while outscoring them 37-10 in that span. They have scored 5.29 goals per game in the team’s last seven meetings and allowed only 1.43 goals during the stretch. Their 1-0 shutout last night was their first of 2013 and Rask’s first since a 9-0 win over the Flames last year. Like Seguin and Dougie Hamilton, who was playing his first NHL game in his hometown of Toronto, Rask also was acquired from the Maple Leafs. He landed in Boston after a straight-up swap of him for Andrew Raycroft between the two teams in 2006.

The game began with some fireworks just over two and a half minutes in when Lane MacDermid challenged Mark Fraser just inside the blue line. While the fight likely ended in a draw, it was the Bruins who capitalized on the momentum and got the goal six minutes later.

It looked like the Leafs had tied it up later in the period, but the goal was disallowed after it was ruled that Nazem Kadri had made incidental contact with Rask and interfered with his ability to defend the net. The call bailed Adam McQuaid out as he had an opportunity to make what looked to be a pretty easy clear, but shot the puck right into the stick of a Leafs’ player.

The B’s kept control of that momentum for the rest of the period and much of the remainder of the game. Toronto was never really able to get anything going. The B’s outshot the Leafs 12-7 in the first and 34-21 for the game. It was tied for the lowest shot total they have allowed all season (21 on opening night).

More importantly, the team ended their stretch of four games in six days with three wins and six out of a possible eight points and though they would have a Seguin goal disallowed themselves later in the game, found a way to put the Buffalo loss behind them and get back on track. They would, however, lose Brad Marchand for the remainder of the game as he made incidental contact with goalie James Reimer and then slammed into the boards shoulder first. Bourque would play much of the third period with Seguin and Patrice Bergeron.

“It was a real good game on our part,” said head coach Claude Julien. “I’m really proud of the guys – the way they’ve handled this week. You hope it becomes contagious.”

Well, apparently fights are contagious for MacDermid, who squared off with Fraser again in the second. This time, it was no contest. After landing a few quick punches, “Dermy” got the take down rather easily. He now has three fighting majors in seven career NHL games.

Lane MacDermid got into it with Fraser twice on Saturday night.

Lane MacDermid got into it with Mark Fraser twice on Saturday night.

Boston’s penalty kill, ranked third in the league through their first eight games, killed off all three of Toronto’s power-play chances on the night, including one in the final two and a half minutes of the game when Seguin was called for a slash. Zdeno Chara was big on the game-clinching penalty kill and Bergeron just missed an open net on a clear.

Gregory Campbell also stepped up on Saturday and played a big role with new linemates in the absence of Thornton and Daniel Paille. He logged a season high 14:21 of ice time while doing the work to kill penalties and also saw a lot more 5-on-5 action with the absence of Marchand.

Also stepping up was Johnny Boychuk, who was all over the ice towards the end of the game, sacrificing his body and blocking shots. This was the kind of defense that was blatantly absent in the seven-goal game against the Sabres just two days prior.

“That was out type of hockey defensively,” said Rask, who finished with 21 saves. ” It was just a very solid effort.”

That it was. If both the defense and the third line can build off of the performances they put forth last night, things will only get better for the Black and Gold.

Jamie Tardif, 28, made his NHL debut in the game and registered eight shifts for the Bruins. After playing in 449 AHL and ECHL games in seven professional seasons, he finally set foot on NHL ice. He even led the team out of the locker room pre-game, though he was the only one of them on the ice for a while as the B’s played a little joke on the rookie.

Since 2007-08, Bourque has played in just 40 NHL games for the Capitals, Penguins, and Bruins.

Dennis Seidenberg led all Bruins with 24:22 of ice time in the win.

Julien said after the game that Marchand was cleared to return to the game, but they kept him out of the third period to be “cautionary.”

Thank you Kessel. Even though neither Seguin nor Hamilton contributed on the only goal of the night, it’s still nice to be polite. The former Bruin registered just eight shots on net and has no goals through eight games in 2013. Since leaving Boston in 2009, Phil Kessel has a minus-18 rating against his former team.

The three stars of the game were Reimer, Rask and Bourque.

The Bruins improved to 6-1-1 atop the Eastern Conference with 13 points and will take three much-needed days off before getting back in action on Wednesday night as they head to the Bell Centre to take on the 5-2 Canadiens for the first of four times this season. Toronto fell to 4-4 in the eighth spot in the East and will host the Hurricanes on Monday night.

 

Follow me on Twitter @RealAndyLarmand.

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