BOSTON – One knew it was only a matter of time for the Bruins power play.
The Bruins PP ranked third in the NHL this season, but was 0-for-8 in the Montreal series headed into Saturday night’s Game 5, and 0-for-10 after a couple of fruitless power play chances in the first period. But thankfully for the Bruins, Montreal’s turtleneck specialist Tomas Plekanec took three straight penalties in the first and second period to give Boston the chance for two power play goals in the first 1:36 of the second period to power the Bruins to a 4-2 win at TD Garden.
That looked much more like the team that went 6-for-16 on the PP in the first round of the playoffs vs. Detroit, and seemingly scored at will on special teams with both of their talented units.
According to the Boston Bruins, the B’s power play had actually been 0-for-40 on the man advantage against Montreal in the playoffs dating back to Boston’s four game sweep in the 2009 first round series. So there were major droughts ending when Reilly Smith redirected Dougie Hamilton’s shot pass through Carey Price’s pads for the initial power play score.
Claude Julien pointed to a power play pep talk between the first and second period as the magical elixir that finally sparked Boston’s special teams.
“I think our power play was due. After the first period, our power play was just average so we had a little chat and talked about bringing the intensity up there on our power play, and winning more battles, and making stronger plays,” said Julien. “It gave us obviously those two goals, which were huge for us.”
The Smith power play goal greeted the Habs just 1:04 into the second period, and was topped by another PP score 32 seconds later after Plekanec threw a high stick into the face of Johnny Boychuk as he approached for a body check. That set up the highlight reel as Torey Krug executed a no look, backhanded pass from the side boards to a wide open Jarome Iginla cutting to the net, and the 36-year-old buried a shot between the leg pads of Price. Krug literally had eyes in the back of his head to first find a crashing Iginla, and then slide the puck to the exact area he’d be while crashing down backdoor on the Montreal net.
“It was a great pass. I was just trying to sneak back and just hope that he would see me. I wasn’t sure, but he did and he threw it right on my tape,” said Iginla, who said the puck movement and chances from the first period PP possessions gave the unit confidence headed into the middle 20 minutes. “It’s a tough play, it was P.K. [Subban], the guy he beat.
“He’s [Torey Krug] a special player, and he’s a very creative guy. We’ve been fortunate all year to have the young guys on our PP units, Dougie Hamilton, Krugs [Torey Krug], Smitty [Reilly Smith], it’s pretty impressive composure they have because there was some good pressure there. But it felt good, great pass and I was just trying to get it off quick and fortunately it went five hole.”
It was Iginla’s fourth goal of the playoffs and their second PP goal in 32 seconds after the Bruins had gone the first four games without one while getting dominated on special teams by the Canadiens. It seems like things have finally reversed themselves for the Bruins and Habs, and the natural order of things has been restored to their regular season rankings.