Consistent Boychuk makes most out of first goal

Consistent Boychuk makes most out of first goal
November 2, 2011, 3:49 am
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BOSTON -- Throughout the Bruins' recent three-game losing skid in the midst of their underachieving 3-7 start, coach Claude Julien preached defense.

He preached it, because that is Boston's identity.

Quite simply, the defending-champion Bruins are a defensive team. From there, everything else falls into place.

As it did Tuesday in a slump-busting 5-3 win over Ottawa.

"Well, I thought we were better defensively," said Julien. "And I think it just kind of re-enforces what we've talked about the last few days. Our team's offense feeds off our team's defense."

Just not the way you would think, on Tuesday night.

The Bruins' defense improved, no doubt. But the offense got a lift from defenseman Johnny Boychuk.

Boychuk blasted a slap shot past Ottawa goaltender Craig Anderson at 6:41 of the third period, giving Boston a 4-3 lead. It came just 1:37 after the Senators' Jared Cowen beat Tim Thomas with a shot from the point, which had tied the game at 3-3.

"We've been coming from behind a lot," said Thomas after the game. "This time was a lead where they tied it up, so it didn't seem to affect us that much. We just needed to respond. And we did fairly quickly."

Boychuk let go a blistering slap shot from the right point, with enough bodies out front to lead the puck past a screened Anderson and into the low-left corner of the net.

"There were a couple there where I just barely missed the net and then finally I got one through, and it hit the net and went in," said Boychuk after the win.

"I was just thinking, 'Hit the net.' Because I kept missing the net before that."

Boychuk was one of three Bruins players to finish the game as a plus-two. The others were fellow defensemen Zdeno Chara and Andrew Ference.

As a defensive partner with Chara, Boychuk's play can sometimes be overlooked. But Julien praised him after Tuesday's win, mainly because of his consistency . . . something most of the team has lacked all season.

"I think Johnny's been one of our best defensemen so far, since the beginning of the year," said Julien. "He's consistent. He hasn't had the highs and lows that maybe some others have had, but he's been pretty good for us.

"I know he's a player that, in my eyes anyways, is still growing every year," added Julien. "Although he's only in his third year with us, he's a guy that just keeps going and going. I like his discipline and his way of playing guys hard. But at the same time, he has enough confidence to move the puck well.

"The goal he scored was a typical Johnny Boychuk shot, that you'd like to see even more."

It was Boychuk's first goal of the season, and as he pointed out after the win, it came a whole lot earlier than his first goal came last year.

"Obviously it feels a lot better, getting that first one by you," said Boychuk with a sense of relief. "Now you don't have to worry about it. I think last year it took me until January. So, a little bit better."

And for the Bruins, a team that almost desperately needed to find a way to re-capture a lead in the third period on Tuesday night, Boychuk's first goal of the year couldn't have come at a better time.

"We needed to win," said Thomas. "I don't know if it was a must-win game, because there's time left in the season. But we needed to win. We needed to start somewhere. And we did that tonight."