BOSTON – The Bruins wanted to head out to the West Coast with some momentum, and they’ve accomplished that reachable goal.
The B’s took care of business against the Winnipeg Jets on Saturday afternoon by a 4-1 score, and won six of their last nine games against beatable opponents before heading out to California for games vs. the NHL’s iron in Los Angeles, San Jose and Anaheim.
The Jets actually scored first on a sloppy line change for the Bruins with Torey Krug turning a puck over to Dustin Byfuglien in the neutral zone. Big Buff zipped a shot past Tuukka Rask after a twirl through the Boston zone, but it was all Black and Gold from that point forward.
Torey Krug scored a pair of goals to join Bobby Orr, Ray Bourque and Greg Hawgood as the only B’s rookies defensemen since 1966 to score 10 goals on the season, and he set up Daniel Paille with a slick cross-ice pass. Both of Krug’s goals came from smoked point shots, with one sailing clean through a screen set by Justin Florek and the second knocking off Jacob Trouba’s stick in front of the net.
Reilly Smith capped off the scoring when he tapped in a loose Ondrej Pavelec rebound in the crease off a Brad Marchand tester from the wing, and the Bruins had themselves a comfortable margin of victory against a desperate Winnipeg team.
Tuukka Rask had a solid afternoon with 36 saves in the victory, and a far-from-sleepy Saturday afternoon also featured three different fights involving Zdeno Chara, Matt Fraser and Adam McQuaid dropping the gloves with old friend Mark Stuart in the third period.
GOLD STAR: Torey Krug finished with a pair of goals, three points and a plus-2 while creating all of the offense that the Bruins would need in a staunch defensive effort against Winnipeg. The goals snapped an 11-game goal-scoring drought and also pushed Krug to 10 goals on the season – a total that leads all B’s defensemen and NHL defensemen this season. The most encouraging part was seeing Krug make a turnover early that led to a goal, and roar right back with a couple of successful point shots through traffic and the slick cross-ice pass to Daniel Paille. Krug took a high stick to the mouth late in the game that caused him to miss a few shifts, but he seemed okay after it was all over.
BLACK EYE: Jacob Trouba is a hyped rookie defenseman, but he finished with a minus-3 rating in 18:44 of ice time, and had one of Torey Krug’s goals bounce in off his stick in front. He and Toby Enstrom combined for a minus-5 in the game, and it was a classroom-type experience for the rookie playing against a Bruins team that knows how to exploit inexperience and weakness. Blake Wheeler could earn second place in the “Black Eye” department with an invisible game after Zdeno Chara caught him with a penalized hit on the first shift of the game.
TURNING POINT: The Bruins still gave up more shots than their opposition in the second period as Winnipeg fired 19 shots on Tuukka Rask, but the Bruins managed to score the two goals that gave them a lead they wouldn’t relinquish. It allowed them to get back to a dead-even goal differential in second periods this season, and paved the way for Boston’s victory. It was a nice response period for Torey Krug, who factored heavily into both goals.
HONORABLE MENTION: Daniel Paille has been on a tear as of late, scoring three goals in the last four games and really looking energized after some time on the injured list with post-concussion symptoms. He was moving with optimal skating speed on Saturday afternoon, causing problems on the fore-check and winning battles along the boards with Gregory Campbell to set up a couple of goals for the fourth line. Paille finished with two points and a plus-1 in 13:22 of ice time for the Black and Gold, and had one of best games of the season in a B’s fourth line that finally seems to be finding a way to produce in the absence of Shawn Thornton.
BY THE NUMBERS: 6 – the number of Bruins players that have played in their first NHL game this season, with Justin Florek becoming the latest Black and Gold newbie on Saturday. It’s the most since 2006-07 when David Krejci and Phil Kessel – among others – played in their first NHL games.
QUOTE TO NOTE: “He was terrible; two goals and an assist.” –A joking Claude Julien when asked how Torey Krug had looked on Saturday after missing practice with a maintenance day on Friday.