Four road games. Four wins. Eight points. Sure, it took three OT periods and 2 shootouts, but the Bruins prevailed each game and may have finally shaken off the last of the cobwebs that had impeded their forward progress so far this season. In defeating St. Louis 4-2 this past Monday, then going into Minnesota on Wednesday and winning 2-1 in a shootout, the Bruins are currently positioned fifth in the conference (12-8-4, 28 pts) and are only a point out of first in the Northeast division. The only negative was the injury suffered by winger Milan Lucic in the Minnesota game, and as I write this, the Bruins are preparing to hold a press conference to discuss his condition/prognosis. Fingers crossed, more to come….
Marc Savard, who had not played since October 17th, returned from a broken foot in the St. Louis game, and for the second straight game Milan Lucic set the tone in the opening moments with a jarring hit on the Blues’ Barret Jackman. Tuukka Rask was back between the pipes, and made a great save six minutes into the first to keep the game scoreless. Mark Recchi then gave the Bruins a 1-0 lead when he batted this puck out of mid-air for a power-play goal. After St. Louis tied the game, Blake Wheeler scored his sixth of the season on a power play early in the second for a 2-1 B’s lead. Milan Lucic would break another tie and give the Bruins a 3-2 lead when he tipped home a Zdeno Chara shot from the point at 12:10 of the second period. St. Louis goalie Chris Mason made the save of the game with 3:51 remaining in the second period to keep St. Louis within a goal. Patrice Bergeron made a nifty steal deep in the St. Louis end and set up Marco Sturm for a shorthanded goal in the third period to ensure a 4-2 win for the Bruins, and also the first three-game winning streak of the season for Boston.
The re-emergence of Patrice Bergeron as an elite two-way player is a truly gratifying sight for Bruins fans; in this game, Bergeron assisted on all four Bruins goals. This 4-assist game comes on the heels of his game-winning shootout goal against Atlanta, then his game-winning OT goal against Buffalo. Even with Savard back, it is becoming apparent that Bergeron may be just as valuable a piece of the offensive puzzle for this year’s Bruins team. Anyone who remembers the events of October 27, 2007, when Bergeron was viciously boarded by the Flyers Randy Jones, can attest that Bergeron’s comeback should make him the early frontrunner for this season’s Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy.
Two nights later, the Bruins headed into the Wild game knowing that in their previous nine meetings with Minnesota, they had escaped with only one win. Tuukka Rask was again in net (I love his mask), and the Bruins Byron Bitz gave him a 1-0 lead when he tipped home a Derek Morris shot from the point. Andrew Ebbett tied the game for Minnesota with a power-play goal in the second, and Rask helped himself with this spectacular save in the third off the Wild’s Cal Clutterbuck….my new favorite hockey name, btw. It was a typical tightly played, defense-dominated game against the Wild, and regulation ended with the teams knotted at one goal each. Tuukka Rask was at his best for the Bruins in the waning minutes of regulation and in the five-minute OT period, and at this time (backup?) goalie Tim Thomas is in no danger of being ‘rushed back’ from whatever upper-body injury currently ails him. In the shootout, Bergeron scored for the Bruins first, and then David Krejci scored the deciding shootout goal as Rask stopped 3-out-of-4 Wild shooters for a 2-1 Bruins shootout victory.
MILAN LUCIC UPDATE: He has a left high-ankle sprain and will be lost up to four weeks. Bad, but could be worse (check out the video):
The Bruins have their first four-game winning streak of the season, and return home today to face the New Jersey Devils (9-2-1 road record) for their annual day-after-Thanksgiving Black Friday noon matinee. We’ll see if “Tuukka time” continues, and more importantly, if the Bruins solid overall team play continues.