Milan Lucic scored for the first time in just over a month, Patrice Bergeron tied the game and the Boston Bruins overcame a two-goal deficit to beat the Toronto Maple Leafs 3-2 in a shootout to split the home-and-home series.
Though the final score looks good, the way Boston got to it was less than ideal. After a first period full of chances that the home team just couldn’t complete, even while slotted into the (temporary, as it turned out) new lines for this game, Joffrey Lupul scored on the power play early in the second period to give the Maple Leafs a lead. This was in his first game back from suspension. Nikolai Kulemin extended Toronto’s lead to two about six minutes later. It may be prudent to point out that Andrew Ference was among the Bruins on the ice for both goals.
But not even two minutes after the Leafs made it 2-0, Lucic breathed some life back into the game with his first goal in 16 games. In fact, he last scored on Feb. 24, so it had literally been just over a month since his last goal. He said postgame that he had been feeling some self-doubt and was second-guessing himself, but perhaps now he can regain some confidence. Was temporarily shaking up the lineup and shuffling Lucci down to the third line the spark he needed? Time will tell, but I hope so.
Bergeron scored midway through the second to make it a tie, one that held all the way through the end of regulation and the overtime period. Shootout sniper Tyler Seguin opened with a goal, though another Tyler, Bozak, answered with one of his own. However, Bergeron also scored and that was all the Bruins needed for a win as Tuukka Rask denied Nazem Kadri and Kulemin.
By far the hardest worker in this game had to be Daniel Paille, continuing to make a case for Seventh Player Award status. At one point, he played with Bergeron and Seguin on the second line–though the old-look first and second lines were eventually reunited later–and he took at least five shots on goal, though the count is higher than that when you add in missed or blocked shots. He led the team in that regard.
There were also some points where the game got a little more physical, including one point where Dion Phaneuf really wanted to teach Brad Marchand not to take a shot after the whistle by basically slamming him into the boards. Phaneuf also poked the bear–Zdeno Chara–right before the start of the shootout, which is inadvisable.
However, despite the shootout win, the 65 minutes preceding it were not always the best for Boston. Though coach Claude Julien called the win gutsy, Bergeron said that the team can still stand to get even better. What better team to provide a challenge than the Montreal Canadiens? That’s who they’re up against next on March 27 in a game that will be on NBC Sports Network, much to Jack Edwards’ chagrin. The Habs will make it clearer if the Bruins are actually solving the issues that have been plaguing them lately or if they’re not there yet.