Bruins third line makes noise in Game 3 win over Leafs

Bruins third line makes noise in Game 3 win over Leafs
May 7, 2013, 12:00 pm
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TORONTO -- The Bruins have done plenty of talking about getting back to the depth scoring and wave-after-wave attack that made them so effective during the playoffs two years ago.

But talk is pretty cheap if it’s not backed up with play on the ice. The Bruins’ third line backed it up in Monday night’s 5-2 win over the Maple Leafs in Game 3 at the Air Canada Centre.

Rich Peverley and Jaromir Jagr finally freed themselves from the Black and Gold missing persons’ files by teaming for one of Boston’s three goals in the second period that overwhelmed the Toronto defense.

“It’s nice to score. But you just want to have a good night,” said Peverley, who led the Bruins with three goals and five points during last year’s playoff series against the Washington Capitals. “You just want to go out and have a good game even if the production isn’t there. I thought we were having a good game in the first period even before we scored.

“Jagr is tremendous on the puck, and we did a lot more talking before the game about where guys are going to be on the ice. It’s just one game, but Krejci and Bergeron’s lines have been doing it all year and you can’t say enough about [the fourth] line. They’ve been just awesome. Hopefully [the third line] can produce when it matters, and help any way that we can.”

While Chris Kelly quietly made sure his linemates were covered defensively throughout the game, Peverley and Jagr got aggressive on the fore-check and forced an error-prone Toronto defense into some costly gaffes. With the Bruins already holding a 1-0 lead in the second period, Peverley used his speed to force young Leafs defenseman Jake Gardiner into a rushed first pass and Jagr simply overwhelmed Ryan O’Byrne behind the net with his size and strength on the puck.

Jagr stripped O’Byrne and quickly dished to Peverley waiting alone in front, and the Bruins forward zipped it in past James Reimer to give the Bruins a two goal lead just 5:59 into the second period. Toronto made its run, of course, but Peverley helped build up an advantage that would stand in the final 20 minutes as the Leafs made an 18-shot frenzied attack in the final period.

Peverley also won 10-of-11 face-offs in 13:33 of ice time while Jagr led the team with six shots on net and generated an impressive nine total shot attempts. It was clearly Jagr's best effort of the three Bruins games so far in the Stanley Cup playoffs.

“That’s where you have to give [Jagr's] linemates credit. They opened up space for him, and they still won the puck and gave it back to him,” said Claude Julien. “The fact is he does not have the speed he once did, but he still has the hands. His linemates are getting used to playing with him.

“So instead of being ahead of the play, they are supporting him and giving him what he needs. [It was] vintage Jagr in the offensive zone, and that is what we asked him to do. Do your job in the offensive zone. We haven’t given him restrictions or anything. He is good. He knows how to handle the puck, and make the right plays in the offensive zone.”

Now the challenge becomes building on Game 3, and making sure that the secondary scoring and line-after-line consistency and momentum becomes the rule rather than the exception. When the Bruins have all four lines performing at their highest level, they are just about impossible to beat as four worthy playoff opponents found out two years ago.