PHILADELPHIA – Facing an opponent with a leaky defense a slumping goaltender, one might have guessed that some of the Bruins struggling offensive performers would find the range.
That’s exactly what happened as Zdeno Chara and Jarome Iginla both scored two goals apiece to snap long goal-scoring droughts, and Reilly Smith also snapped a seven game goalless stretch in Boston’s 6-1 pounding of the Flyers at the Wells Fargo Center. After it was all over, a group of Bruins players were happy to shoulder the offensive burden after they’d been carried for the last few weeks.
“It’s been a while since we won a game with that big of a gap in goals,” said a smiling Claude Julien.
Chara hadn’t scored a goal in 14 games and had only a single assist in the month of January while focusing greatly on defense in the absence of Dennis Seidenberg, and he ended his slump first. What was intended as a pass across the crease went off the back skate of Niklas Grossman, and popped over Steve Mason’s shoulder for Chara’s 10th goal of the season.
Then Chara added another power play goal halfway through the third period for the final score on a tap-in after Iginla had drawn the entire penalty kill unit toward him. It was good to see Boston’s core players get back into the scoring habit, and also finish off strong when they had an opponent down on their luck.
“The thing I really liked is that even with a 4-0 lead, we went out there and kept our composure in the third period,” said Julien. “[We] continued to play the way we were supposed to until the end. We didn’t allow them to get any momentum, and that was important.”
Iginla was perhaps the most front-and-center with his slump as he entered Saturday’s game with just a single goal in nine games during the month of January, and had only a single assist in an eight game goal-scoring famine. The 36-year-old veteran put an end to that with a backbreaking goal with 18 seconds remaining in the first period – a power play strike from the high slot that sizzled past Steve Mason’s glove hand.
The B’s right winger added another goal and finished with a season-high four points overall, and appears poised to go on another scoring tear for the Black and Gold.
“It’s been a little bit tough lately, so it felt good to get on the board and maybe get a couple bounces,” said Iginla. “I thought as a line we were feeling better. Krejci and Lucic had been going well and I’d been going through a drought, but the last few games we’d been building it and building it.
“We were just trying to get back to that fore-check and being physical, and really wearing down the other team. Tonight we got some bounces, and it was good. But for the last couple we’d been focusing on getting back at it.”
Smith also ended his own personal seven game dry spell when he hustled to bust through Niklas Grossman and Mark Streit to put a shot on the Philly net. The hockey gods rewarded his hardnosed play with a shot that bounced off the post, hit Mason in the back and then bounced over the goal line for his 16th score of the season. The Iginla goal to end the first period combined with Smith’s second period score to really kill the flagging spirit on the Flyers bench.
“It probably felt more like 15 [games], but I didn’t even know if it went in right away,” said Smith. “I was pretty excited when they didn’t go upstairs with it because I wasn’t even sure if it crossed over the line.
“But it was good to get some confidence back, and me and [Bergeron] finally helping out [Brad] Marchand.”
Smith wasn’t alone. The entire Bruins team stepped up to help out Marchand on Saturday after he’d carried the offense for the last few games with so many other players seemingly stuck in the mud.