DALLAS – The Bruins lost out on two points they felt they should have had in a loss to Toronto at home earlier this week, and needed to find a way to make up those squandered points on the road.
The Black and Gold did just that Thursday night by getting better as the game progressed in a 4-2 victory over the Dallas Stars at the American Airlines Center on the strength of goals from David Krejci and Brad Marchand.
The victory, combined with an extra-session loss for the Tampa Bay Lightning, once again gives the Bruins sole ownership of first place in the Atlantic Division.
Marchand’s goal was purse hustle from that line. A relentless forecheck led to Patrice Bergeron beating Erik Cole on a puck battle behind the Dallas net, and the puck bounced to Marchand heading toward the net.
Marchand managed to squirt the puck through Kari Lehtonen’s pads for his 12th goal of the season.
The Stars had evened things up in the third period on an Erik Cole power play goal, where he was strictly in the right place at the right time. Tyler Seguin had snapped a shot at the net from the outside of the left circle, and the puck bounced off Cole’s stick with his back turned while getting up after Zdeno Chara had driven him to the ice.
The score with four seconds left in the second period ended a six-game goal-scoring drought for the B’s creative center, and helped saddle the Stars with their seventh loss in their past eight games. The Bruins scoring play started with an aggressive, confident rush into the offensive zone by Matt Bartkowski.
Eventually Milan Lucic won a puck battle against Rich Peverley in the corner, and fed to a waiting Krejci in the slot for the top shelf one-timer. Lucic finished off the scoring with a power play goal in the closing minutes of the third that served as his first goal in the last 10 games. Patrice Bergeron added the empty net score to cinch things.
Otherwise the game was a giant confidence-booster for Chad Johnson, who played well while making 32 saves in the victory. He also managed to shake off taking a Zdeno Chara high stick that left him with a big gash under his left eye after the stick passed through the goalie mask’s eye hole.
GOLD STAR: Chad Johnson made 32 saves in one of his best games of the season and fought through a scary incident where a Zdeno Chara high-stick caught him inside the left eye hole in the goalie mask. The stick left Johnson with a cut under his left eye and knocked the contact lens off his eye. He played the remainder of the second period with blurred vision due to the missing contact lens. Aside from that, Johnson was solid as the speedy Dallas Stars buzzed around his net, but only scored on a lucky bounce for Erik Cole and some major hard-hat work for Jamie Benn. Neither goal was on the goaltender.
BLACK EYE: Tough night for Rich Peverley against his former team. A minus-2 rating, one shot on net, 5-for-11 in the face-off circle and a badly lost one-on-one battle to Milan Lucic in the corner that led directly to the David Krejci goal that broke the scoreless tie. Peverley has been a steady performer for the Stars this season, but he didn’t have much in the way of resistance for his former B’s teammates on Thursday night. It was very reminiscent of far too many nights for the speedy forward in his final year with the B’s last season.
TURNING POINT: The David Krejci goal with just four seconds remaining in the second period after a hard-fought middle 20 minutes was exactly the kind of reward the Bruins needed for their good efforts. It ended a slump for Krejci, and vanquished countless recent scoring chances that had been fruitless for the Black and Gold over the last couple of games. It could have gone badly for the B’s in the third period if they’d outshot the Stars by an 18-12 margin in a dominant second period and didn’t have anything to show for it.
HONORABLE MENTION: Krejci has been a workhorse lately for the Bruins amid injuries with a bevy of 20-plus-minute games when it comes to ice time. That heavy workload might have scaled back some of his energy on the odd shift, but it also left him due for a run of good fortune. He ended a six game goal-scoring slump with his one-timer with just four seconds remaining in the second period, and set up Milan Lucic’s game-winner with a ripped shot from the high point. He was a plus-1 rating, scored on his only shot and won 14-of-22 face-offs in a gritty win for the Black and Gold.
BY THE NUMBERS: 10-for-14 – The face-off circle performance for Tyler Seguin against the Bruins to go along with his two assists. He was much better in his second go-round against his former team.
QUOTE TO NOTE: “It was such a quick play. I could feel the blade hit my cheek and then come up and clip my eyelid. My contact fell out. It kind of startles you. You don’t expect a blade to be able to get into your cage.” –Chad Johnson, talking about the second period where the blade of Zdeno Chara’s stick accidentally poked through the left eye hole of his goalie mask.