Bruins looking to improve in first period

Bruins looking to improve in first period
April 2, 2013, 12:00 am
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When the Bruins hit the ice against the Ottawa Senators at home on Tuesday they’ll be looking to repeat at least part of their Sunday night triumph over the Buffalo Sabres.

No, they’re not looking to go scoreless through the first two periods of the game. The Bruins are looking to get on the board first and play with the lead as they finally did in the third period of Sunday night’s 2-0 win over the Sabres.

That game snapped four straight games in which the opposition scored first and the Bruins eventually fell behind by a 2-0 score in each of those games. For a hockey club that’s put up some pretty spotty play in the third periods of games recently as well, that’s a troubling trend where sleepy first periods can't be tolerated.

The Bruins were happy to reverse it on Sunday and will be looking for more of the same this week.

“It was a tough game. It was probably a really boring game for most of the game, but we found a way to score that first one. From there we were able to control the game,” said Zdeno Chara. “We were getting closer and closer to getting the second one, and then we just wanted to finish the game strong.”

The Bruins haven't scored a goal in the first period of seven straight games dating back to the St. Patrick’s Day loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins, and are 3-4 in that stretch of games. It’s the longest they’ve gone without cobbling together some offense in the first period since going through a nine-game stretch in October 2001, while setting a standard for first period futility.

That’s certainly a long time ago as P.J. Stock was still ringing up 122 penalty minutes for the Black and Gold rather than wearing those Count Dracula popped collar suits on the Hockey Night in Canada television studio. But it speaks to a Bruins team that could use a little more spark coming out of the starting gate after sleeping through much of the month of March.

Well, it’s not March anymore. Amazingly the Bruins are still out-scoring opponents by a 28-21 margin in collective first periods this season, but they know that number isn’t going to matter much if they keep spiraling downward in the opening 20 minutes of games.

“We’re trying not to get frustrated," Milan Lucic said. "As of late if things weren’t going well for us then we’d get frustrated and let it get the better of us. But [against Buffalo] we stayed with the game plan and stayed positive, and it ended up working out for us.”

So the first order of business for the Black and Gold is actually scoring first in the game, and if they’re getting really ambitious then a first-period goal should be on the docket in a Northeast Division tilt with plenty of ramifications. But it’s one step at a time as the Bruins start searching for the keys to consistently good starts in the final 14 games of the season in the next 26 days.