MONTREAL David Krejci might have scored the game-winning goal and Tuukka Rask might have stopped 20 shots while chaos reigned around his net at the always wild Bell Centre.
But credit Bruins head coach Claude Julien as much as anybody in a Black and Gold uniform for pulling out an improbable win over the Canadiens in Montreal on Wednesday night.
The Bruins offense looked as stale as a loaf of Les Miserables bread through the first two periods. Both Nathan Horton and Tyler Seguin were being kept under wraps and had one total shot on net between them, and it was clear being forced to replace Brad Marchand with Gregory Campbell on the wing due to injury wasnt exactly working out to be an offensive upgrade.
The Bruins headed into the final 20 minutes trailing 1-0 and it looked like another exercise in Boston frustration at the Bell Centre was looming. But Julien did what some thought he might not do: he busted up a David KrejciMilan LucicNathan Horton line thats been dynamite through the first three weeks of the season while looking for a spark to ignite his team.
He replaced Horton with Seguin on the right wing to start the third period, and thats when things blew up in the best way possible. With Brad Marchand out it made all the sense in the world to create one super offensive line with Lucic, Krejci and Seguin, so they could get a little traction with injuries cutting into their team speed and overall skill level.
The re-jiggered LucicKrejciSeguin line popped in two goals in its first two shifts of the third period to give the Bruins a 2-1 lead two minutes in, and that would be enough to hold on for victory at the Bell Centre.
In the third period we needed to create more scoring chances. I dont think we had many at all in the first two. So we tweaked the lines and the guys responded well, said Julien. It was just combinations. There are going to be some nights when things arent going well, and we all know that the Krejci line has been awesome for us.
Tonight they didnt seem to be able to generate much. So I said why dont I move a few guys around and see if we can generate a spark. Guys responded well. Seguin drove the net on our first goal and Horton almost scored on his first shift with a great chance. So things worked out and it gave us an opportunity to score some goals.
The Bruins had been in perimeter mode for much of the first 40 minutes, and that was a big part of the problem. Carey Price never broke a sweat in the first period while waiting over 12 minutes for Boston to register their first shot on net, and the Bruins really never waged any dangerous scoring bid in the first two periods. The best chance was for Seguin on a wide open lane to the net, but the 21-year-old pulled up for a short-side shot attempt that harmlessly hit the side of the net rather than driving the cage.
The new look Bruins finally did some damage in the third period when they attacked the net with aggressiveness and purpose. Seguin won a puck battle behind the Montreal net on the forecheck, passed to Krejci and then circled back to the net where the slick center found him for a backhander that tied things up at 1-1.
Less than two minutes later good plays by Zdeno Chara and Johnny Boychuk to escape the defensive zone kick-started the Bs transition, and Seguin broke into the attack zone with speed. He floated a saucer over to Lucic on the left wing, and then both Seguin and Krejci headed straight to the net. The number of attackers overwhelmed the Montreal defense and a charging Krejci redirected the Lucic pass to the front for the game-winning goal.
The players couldnt really explain why Juliens move worked, but credited their coach for seeing exactly what needed to be done.
Coach just said he wanted to get a spark and well see what happens. Obviously with us popping in two goals there it worked out, said Seguin. Call it spark or call it different mindsets. I think anybody that has played this game knows that its at least 75 percent mindset out there. We went out there with a little spark in us like Julien said and it worked out.
That makes three goals and a team-leading nine points in nine games this season for Krejci, who appears to be on a mission to start this season. But one has to expect he wants to keep things together with Lucic and Horton as his bookend power forward wings after things have gone well for the majority of the last nine games.
Obviously we switched the lines a little. We didnt have much offense in the first two periods and in the third period we came out hard, said Krejci. It was one of those things where the puck finds the stick, and the stick finds the net twice. I was happy for those two goals and it was a really big game to win.
All we were thinking about going into the third period was playing strong and we got a big two points tonight.
Dont expect these to be the lines the Bruins open up with Saturday afternoon against the Tampa Bay Lightning. Julien said he had fingers crossed that Marchand will play this weekend, and that would mean a return to line combination normalcy for the top six forwards as weve known it through the first nine games of the season.
That may change if the Nose Face Killah is still sitting on the sidelines with an upper body injury, however.
The Lucic-Krejci-Seguin combo does give the Bs coach a trump card, though.
He can play it to wake up the Boston offense when the inevitable stagnant times hit over the next few months of a regular season thats about to get very challenging.