BUFFALO It appeared that Sundays road game against the Sabres was going to become another cautionary tale of woe and lost opportunities for the Boston power play.
The Bruins had been 0-for-3 through the first two periods of play on the man advantage, and hadnt generated much offensive juice despite some new combinations on the two PP units.
Even worse the Bruins gagged on a power play late in the second period after Chris Bourque had drawn a tripping penalty near the blue line on Mike Weber. The Bruins didnt finish with a single shot on net during the two minutes of PP time and allowed the Sabres to hem them into the defensive zone. Twenty seconds later Buffalo had capitalized on the momentum-changing special teams play and Tyler Ennis had a game-tying score on a couple of plays where Dougie Hamilton looked like a 19-year-old rookie.
But the good news for the Bruins and their put upon power play is that Patrice Bergeron hit pay dirt with a power play game-winner in the third period that led the Black and Gold to a 3-1 victory at the First Niagara Center. As futile as the special teams unit appeared in the first 40 minutes, they cashed in and executed when they had to in the final period.
It was nice to get a goal there, said Brad Marchand. Weve been struggling a little bit lately on the power play and weve been working hard on it the last few days. It really paid off in the third period.
Bergeron won an offensive zone face-off and Rich Peverley worked the puck over to Chris Bourque at the high point. Bourque fired wide left with a shot that bounced off bodies in front before kicking left of the net, but the puck bounced hard off the end boards back to Bergeron as he crashed down on the net.
The Bruins two-way center fired to beat Buffalo goalie Ryan Miller from the slot, and Boston had that elusive power play goal. The Bruins went into Sundays game ranked dead-last in the NHL with a power play that was scoring only 8.8 percent of the time, and hope that a good bounce can change their fortunes a bit.
The Bruins players knew that finally converting on the power play was the only way to erase the bad vibes their special teams units created in the middle 20 minutes of the hockey game. It was also the merciful ending they were looking for on a power play that had gone 0-for-17 and hadnt produced a goal since a Jan. 28 road win over the Carolina Hurricanes.
Its going to hit a stick or its going to hit a body . . . something, said Bergeron. Yeah, we know that we need to be better on the power play. But it was good to get a lucky bounce, so well take it.
We need to get momentum and we didnt do that in the first two periods. We had to get momentum in the third period and even thought it wasnt the prettiest goal we found a way.
Julien admitted that the power play can look disorganized at times, but things come down to player execution at the end of the day.
I dont think all power play goals are beautiful goals, said Julien. Weve had our chances and we havent capitalized on them. At the end its nice to get that break. We needed that one. I guess thats what were trying to get out of our power play this year . . . some timely goals.
It certainly could be a long time before anybody calls the Bruins power play a beautiful work of hockey art, but the Boston coaching staff will settle for clutch and timely if it leads to wins as it did on Sunday night.