BOSTON – The Bruins desperately wanted to put a punctuation mark on their losing stretch before it reached a season-high three games, and they did just that Thursday night against the Nashville Predators in a game that didn’t have many style points.
Brad Marchand made a head fake and then went through Mike Fisher’s legs with the puck before burying the wrist shot to give the Bruins a 3-2 overtime victory at TD Garden.
The Predators struck first when they took advantage of a sloppy line change in the second period, and Viktor Stalberg knocked in the rebound of a Mike Rusher shot to the net as Adam McQuaid and Torey Krug tried to scramble back into position.
Down 1-0 headed into the final 20 minutes of the game, the Bruins rallied to tie it on a dazzling Ryan Spooner rush up the left wing. The 21-year-old slipped by Stalberg in the defensive zone, and put on the jets until he fed Johnny Boychuk for a deadly wrist shot from the slot area for his second goal of the season.
Jarome Iginla and Milan Lucic teamed up for what was the go-ahead goal after Iggy popped a centering pass through Nashville goalie Marek Mazanec, and gave the Black and Gold a tight 2-1 lead they couldn’t hold. It also extended six-game point streaks for Iginla, Lucic and David Krejci as that red-hot line has carried the Bruins offense over the past three weeks.
Shea Weber got a blistering shot through rookie Niklas Svedberg, making his NHL debut, with 5:25 to go in the third period to push things into the extra session. Otherwise, it was a pretty solid debut for Svedberg, who stopped 33 shots while helping send it to overtime.
GOLD STAR: Brad Marchand was active throughout the game, but saved his best for overtime. He toe-dragged Mike Fisher, passed the puck between the Nashville center’s legs and then fired the winning wrister past Marek Mazanec in the OT session. This came shortly after Marchand was belted by Shea Weber in front of the Nashville bench, but popped right back up and kept on playing. The goal gives Marchand five goals and six points in his past seven games, which coincides almost exactly with the games that have followed the much-discussed antics in Vancouver. Pretty clear Marchand got the message, and he's delivering for the Bruins like he didn’t in the first couple of months of the season.
BLACK EYE: Seth Jones had one nice rush around Adam McQuaid that forced Niklas Svedberg to make a quick pad save, but was otherwise completely invisible. He finished with the one shot, one hit and one blocked shot in 18:50 of ice time for the Predators, and was invisible for long stretches while Weber and Roman Josi soaked up nearly 30 minutes of ice time apiece. Jones is going to be a horse in the next couple of years, but it’s hard to believe he was strongly considered for the US Olympic hockey team this winter given his rough edges.
TURNING POINT: The Bruins retreated to the dressing for the second intermission after getting outshot by the Predators by a 16-3 margin, and collectively knew they needed to be better if they wanted to avoid a three-game losing streak. They pounded out a pair of goals in third period while righting the ship, and set up the overtime session for Marchand’s winner with some big plays in the final 20 minutes. They were actually outshot 11-10 in the third period, but got the kind of offensive pressure they needed to create some offense against a tough Nashville bunch.
HONORABLE MENTION: It has to Niklas Svedberg, who showed up and held the Bruins in the game until the offense could get going in the third period. Svedberg made 15 saves in the third period, when the Bruins were outshot 16-3, and was beaten only on a breakdown coming off a sloppy line change made worse by poor coverage. That left things wide open on a Viktor Stalberg rebound goal, and he was beaten in the third period for the tying goal on Weber's bullet. Both aside from some early rebounds, Svedberg was outstanding in his NHL debut and showed the B’s brass that he’s ready to handle himself at the NHL level.
BY THE NUMBERS: 1 – the number of Swedish goaltenders in the history of the Bruins organization after Niklas Svedberg made his first official NHL start. Svedberg and Tuukka Rask became the first All-Nordic goaltending tandem for the B’s this season as well, with Finnish netminder Hannu Toivonen as the only other Nordic goaltender to don the Black and Gold jersey in franchise history.
QUOTE TO NOTE: “I was kind of getting ready to back-check because you never know with that move. Luckily it went in.” –a smirking Brad Marchand on a high risk move that netted the winner in overtime.