You knew the Boston Bruins would come out hard Saturday given the Game 1 result- a disappointing home loss akin to that of the first round, albeit a difference in style. Although the Bruins smothered Carey Price with over fifty shots in the double overtime classic, P.K Subban sealed the victory with his second of the game, crushing the hearts of the Bruins and their fans.
On Saturday, the result was entirely different.
With confidence on their side given their Game 1 effort, the Bruins continued their offensive outburst. Drawing two early penalties, the team found themselves on an extended two-man advantage with a chance to take a first period lead, but just like yesterday, failed to capitalize.
As we’ve come to learn, though, this Bruins team never quits; and they didn’t in the first. Just minutes after the disappointing power play effort, the Bruins netted that all-important first goal of the game. Andrej Meszaros (who took the place of the struggling Matt Bartkowski) carried the puck through the neutral zone and dumped the puck with purpose. Carl Soderberg found the rubber and dished the perfect pass to Daniel Paille in the slot, who beat Price blocker-side high.
Paille skated on the third line with Soderberg and Loui Eriksson, taking the place of Justin Florek; Jordan Caron joined Greg Campbell and Shawn Thornton on the fourth line. The Bruins outshot the Canadiens 11-5 and led 1-0 after twenty minutes of play.
A minute into the middle frame, the Bruins costly mistakes that killed them in Game 1 began to resurface. An inexplicable turnover by Brad Marchand, who tried to make a move rather than dumping the puck deep allowing his teammates to change out, gave the Habs an opportunity to strike. Maintaining possession in Boston’s end, Mike Weaver put the Habs on the board with a blast from the point through a number of bodies. Tuukka Rask never saw it, as the Bruins net-clearing and shot-blocking struggles ensued.
While the score differed, Game 2 had an eerily similar feel to Game one. The Bruins couldn’t capitalize on their best scoring chances and, as frustration boiled over, the penalties followed.
First it was questionable roughing call on Meszaros, who looked to be held by Tomas Plekanec on the play but still went off for two minutes. Unlike the Bruins, the Habs made the most of their four on-three advantage and it was Thomas Vanek who deflected the puck past Rask, giving Montreal a 2-1 lead after two periods of play.
“I think it’s been pretty even on the battles both ways, but there were a couple that we’d probably like back that we let get away, but that’s part of it,” Jarome Iginla said of the Bruins second period. “We’ve got to find that good balance and I think for the most part we have – where we’re going to play hard, we’re going to compete. Today I thought, in the second maybe we got a little bit too charged up, or whatever, but we found a way to focus that there in the third and use some of that energy, use the energy in the building and stay as positive as we could and it felt pretty good to have it go the way it did.”
After the third period started with more of the same- an interference penalty on Dougie Hamilton giving the vaunted Habs power play yet another opportunity- the tide turned in the Bruins favor. Just like Game 1, as soon as the Habs extended their lead to two the sleeping bear came to life. The Bruins channeled their inner frustrations and emotions and brought out the best of their play.
“What you feel on the bench is these guys have been through a lot, and even after they scored and made it 3-1, all I could hear guys saying was, ‘Hey, there’s lots of hockey left, let’s get that next goal here, let’s get going,’ and it was all about encouraging each other to be better,” Bruins Coach Claude Julien noted of his team’s resiliency.
“And that’s what happened, and as a coach, I’ve been around these guys for a long time, and you just let them be and let them get themselves going. And you just do your job as a coach — change the lines, try to put the right people out there, and the rest, they took care of.”
Hamilton struck first with a shot that had eyes. Then Patrice Bergeron with a wrist shot from the half wall. With momentum on their side and the Garden going berserk, the Bruins had another smooth entry and this time it was Torey Krug finding Reilly Smith with cross-crease pass, and Smith burying a wrist shot to conclude the historic comeback.
Down 3-1 with less than ten go in a crucial Game two, the Bruins once again stormed back and this time came out on top.
“If we stole this one, they stole the first one, so it doesn’t really matter how you want to look at those things,” Julien said. “At the end of the day, it’s who wins, and they won the first, we won the second. And right now, I think what’s pretty obvious is that if we focus on what we need to do and try and not let the distractions of things we can’t control get to us, we’re going to be okay.”
And that’s exactly it. If the Bruins can keep the game even-strength and continue to pour pucks on Price, they should have this series. That being said, the truest test- coming in the form of a Montreal two-gamer- comes next. Buckle up.