BOSTON -- Claude Julien changed the lines, and then put them back together on Monday night, and it did exactly what he wanted.
It created a spark, and saw goals from Milan Lucic, Patrice Bergeron, and a shootout goal from Tyler Seguin that led to a 3-2 Bruins win over the Toronto Maple Leafs at the TD Garden.
Bergeron added the Bruins' second shootout goal, and Tuukka Rask made two saves on three Maple Leafs' attempts to go along with 23 saves and his 15th win of the season,
The Bruins saw Lucic end a 15-game scoreless drought midway through the second period to cut the Maple Leafs' lead to 2-1, as Lucic received a neutral-zone pass from Rich Peverley and turned on the jets down the right side of the ice. He toasted Toronto defenseman Cody Franson, cut hard out front of the net and slipped the puck five-hole.
The goal countered second-period Maple Leaf goals from Joffrey Lupul and Nikolai Kulemin that put Toronto up 2-0 after a scoreless first period.
After Julien put the team's original lines back together in the third period, Bergeron tied the game at 2-2 with 9:24 left in the third after he buried a backhander from out front, thanks to receiving a Dougie Hamilton pass from behind the net.
And the Bruins finished it off in the shootout for a hard-fought two points after falling behind 2-0.
GOLD STAR: Patrice Bergeron potted the game-tying goal in the third period on a smart play moving without the puck, won 19-of-28 face-offs while just dominating Nazem Kadri among others and then scored the deciding goal in the shootout to help push the Bruins to victory. He did all that while leading all forwards with 21:57 of ice time and firing three shots on net in total. The Bruins needed some gritty, substantial efforts from their best players, and Bergeron showed up for work with his hard hat, tool belt and work gloves.
BLACK EYE: Zero shots on net and little impact for Nathan Horton, who once again had a chance to deposit a loose puck around the net during a wild sequence at the end of the second period. But Horton seemingly took forever to settle it and ready for a shot attempt with the entire top half of the net to aim for. By the time Horton was ready to shoot the puck was knocked harmlessly away and the Bruins had nothing to show for a strong shift from Krejci, Lucic and Horton. While Lucic showed some encouraging signs, Horton needs every bit of improvement as well if Claude Julien is going to put their line right back together after separating them.
TURNING POINT: Tuukka Rask was once again involved in a tight third period setting after the Bruins had tied things up at 2-2 midway through the period, and he was brilliant in the third period AND in overtime. Rask was perfect with 11 saves and really went into lockdown mode after Toronto’s Nikolai Kulemin goal broke down the defensive pairing of Andrew Ference and Aaron Johnson. This time there was no collapse and no faltering in the third period or extra session, and the Finnish netminder let out a little bit of emotion after Boston had secured the two points in the shootout victory.
HONORABLE MENTION: Got to be Milan Lucic, who had two of Boston’s best offensive chances of the evening on his two shots on goal. Instructively both chance came because Lucic was moving his feet to keep up with the fast pace and create some offense for himself. The first arrived in the first period when he carried a puck through the neutral zone before firing a shot from the slot through a slight screen. James Reimer made a nice shoulder save on that bid, but the second was a pass from Rich Peverley that hit him in stride on his way into the offensive zone. Lucic moved his feet while carrying the puck to the net, and slipped a five hole shot through Reimer’s pads for his fifth goal of the season. It also snapped a 15-game goal-scoring drought that was one of the worst of Lucic’s career. Lucic even laid out a few big hits, but No. 17 and the rest of his teammates know they can all still be even better.
BY THE NUMBERS: 20-1 – the Bruins’ record in games this season in which they’ve held their opponents to two or less goals.
QUOTE TO NOTE: “Consistency. I think at this time of the year that’s what everybody is looking for—consistency and having that right approach going towards the end of the season and the playoffs.” –Zdeno Chara on what he’s looking for from his team at this point in the season.
Game story written by Danny Picard.