Haggerty: Bruins get back on the beam in St. Louis

Haggerty: Bruins get back on the beam in St. Louis
February 23, 2012, 12:03 pm
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ST. LOUIS There were plenty of things to be enthused about after the Bruins went into one of the most inhospitable places in the NHL and came away with two points . . . and some regained bravado.

The Blues had gone an amazing 21 straight games without losing in regulation at the Scottrade Center, but the Bruins handed them their first home defeat since Dec. 3 with a 4-2 victory Wednesday night.

It was a great team effort, said Chris Kelly. The goals we scored werent about forcing anything. It was about being in the right spots and capitalizing on our chance. We just kept plugging away and going at them. We stuck with the game plan and didnt get into a situation where we were on the defense all night.

It was a simple return to the Bruins way of doing things.

There were heavy, punishing hits all over the ice, like the thumping David Krejci put on Kris Russell behind the St. Louis net to set up the Bs second goal. There was a goaltending clinic put on by Tim Thomas in the second period, when he stopped everything as the Blues outshot the Bruins 14-4. There was an undeniable emotional spark from Brad Marchand early in the game, when he turned a splendidly clean steal from Kevin Shattenkirk into instant offense.

There werent any passengers on the bus this evening (including the struggling Krejci, who, in his new right-wing role, helped set up goals for linemates Kelly and Milan Lucic). That roster-wide participation made all the difference for a team that came into Wednesday with three regulation wins in its last 18 games.

There was no doubt we played to win and we did the right things, said coach Claude Julien. I dont think one guy was a bigger hero than the other tonight. I thought this was really a good team win.

It goes to show that when our guys really put their minds to it and are determined to be the hardest-working team out there, then they give you a really good chance to win. Tonight as a coach I was really happy with everybodys game. We worked really hard.

It was the first time the Bs scored more than three goals in a game in nearly three weeks, and it helped that they got away from an offensive formula that had failed them during their recent skid. The Bruins didnt pile up an obscene numbers of futile shot attempts from the perimeter, like they did against Minnesota or the Carolina Hurricanes earlier this month. Instead they reverted to form and chose quality scoring chances over shot quantity. Alert, aggressive defensive plays and punishing forechecking created scoring chances that they capitalized on.

A big thing today was getting that first goal. It helped lighten the mood and gave us that confidence, said Lucic. Even though they tied it up later, the first goal gave us that weight off our shoulders that we could go out and get the next one.

Best of all, the Bruins finally returned to form in the third period. After getting outscored by a 5-1 margin in the third period over the previous four games, the Bruins outshot the Blues, prevented them from scoring, and put the finishing touches on sweet victory with a Marchand breakaway goal.

It was a focused 60-minute effort, and it couldnt have looked more different than many of Bostons recent sleepy performances.