BOSTON -- Fighting has always been known to spark a hockey club. Three fights in the first four seconds of a game, including two clear-cut victories, as the Bruins had Thursday night, should be enough to fire up the squad.
But as much as Gregory Campbell, Shawn Thornton and Adam McQuaid got the TD Garden rocking in the early moments of their against the Dallas Stars, a win wasn't guaranteed.
Their fights would have been meaningless if there had been no response after the fact.
Well, the Bruins responded.
As B's defenseman Andrew Ference -- who had the team's fourth fight, and third win, in the first four minutes of the first period -- pointed out after Boston's 6-3 win over Dallas, some good hockey got lost in all the fighting.
What also could have been lost in all the fighting was the fact that the Bruins played good hockey in front of Tuukka Rask.
Rask entered Thursday's game with a sub-par 4-10-1 record, but his 2.67 goals-against average and .923 save percentage told a different story about his season.
So many times this year, Bruins players have taken the blame for a game in which Rask was credited with the loss. But they did so because it was true. For most of Rask's starts, the B's have failed to show up to play the same way they do when Tim Thomas is in net.
And make no mistake about it, it's nothing more than a coincidence. But that doesn't hide the fact that it happens.
It didn't happen on Thursday, as the Bruins responded to the fighting with two early goals from Milan Lucic and Patrice Bergeron in the first 1:20 of the game. They went into the second period with a 4-0 lead.
"Well, part of it is our fault, to be honest with you," said Bergeron after the win about the team's play in front of Rask. "Rask's got the numbers, the numbers are unbelievable. He doesn't get those wins, but part of it is our fault, as teammates. And we need to step up and give it a good effort in front of him. We did that tonight, but also, I think he made some amazing saves and kept us in the game."
"We feel so bad for him," said Ference. "So many of the games that he started this year, he plays great and then we just seem to screw it up for him. The fights are one thing, but after the fights, to respond with some really good goals, and I think a really good first period, that's the impressive thing. Anybody can go out there and drop the gloves and fight, and do all that stuff. But to follow it up with really good hockey, is what makes it successful."
Rask finished with 30 saves, but allowed three goals on a third-period letdown to make the score 4-3.
The B's quickly called a time out, and turned things around, scoring two goals. Rask turned it around as well, making several more big stops to preserve the lead.
"It's nice to see some offensive power," said Rask. "Especially the way we started the game. Three fights, and then respond with four goals. That's a good sign. They helped me out a lot today."
"I don't know how many people realize how many key saves he made at those key moments," said Bruins coach Claude Julien, praising Rask for being the team's best penalty killer during Dallas' five-minute power play in the second period.
"He made some big saves, and he made some really, really big saves at the right time, and that's what you want from your goaltender," added Julien. "Whenever the other team gets those great opportunities, if he can come up with some big saves, that usually makes the difference in the game, and he did that for us tonight . . . We're going to need more of that from him as we move forward."
And Rask will certainly want more of the same from his teammates when he's between the pipes.
Danny Picard is on Twitter at http:twitter.comDannyPicard. You can listen to Danny on hisstreaming radio show I'm Just Sayin' Monday-Friday from9-10 a.m. on CSNNE.com.