ST. LOUIS, MO The Bruins had to battle, grind and scrape their way through against a Blues team thats been dominant at home all season, but they managed to get a hard-fought, badly-needed victory.
The stagnant Bs offense exploded for three goals in the first period, withstood everything the competitive Blues could throw at them in the second frame and survived for a 4-2 win over the Blues at Scottrade Center.
The victory snapped Bostons two-game losing streak and handed St. Louis their first home loss since a Dec. 3 defeat at the hands of the Chicago Blackhawks.
It wasnt easy, but nothing has been for the Black and Gold lately.
Brad Marchand opened things up with an early going after picking the pockets of former BU defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk and roofing a shot over Blues goaltender Brian Elliott. Milan Lucic tipped home a Joe Corvo point shot to give the Bs a two-goal lead early, but then St. Louis punched back with everything they had.
Chris Stewart beat Tim Thomas with a whirling blast of a loose puck in front of the net, and Ryan Reaves tipped home a TJ Crombeen shot to tie things up in the opening 20 minutes.
But the Bruins answered before the first 20 minutes of scoring was up, and Chris Kelly snapped home a shot from the slot area after a smart centering pass from Lucic set everything into motion. From there it was up to Thomas to dominate with 14 saves in the second period after looking slightly shaky in the opening minutes of the contest.
Marchand added his second goal of the night after a long lead pass from Tyler Seguin freed him for a breakaway, and he tucked the puck between Elliotts pads for the backbreaking insurance goal.
Brad Marchand created the bookend scores by manufacturing a goal early when he picked Kevin Shattenkirks pocket in the first period by the blue line before firing a shot past Brian Elliott. The Nose Face Killah also ended things with a five-hole score off a breakaway set up by a sweet Tyler Seguin stretch pass in the third period to create some breathing room for the Black and Gold. The two goals snapped a six-game goal-scoring drought for Marchand and put him over 20 goals again for the second time in two NHL seasons. Marchand hadnt brought much energy lately in a performance that was symbolic of the entire team, but he brought the goods against St. Louis on Wednesday night.
Jordan Caron was relegated to the bench in the third period when it was pretty clear that the 20-year-old winger was a tad overwhelmed on the ice. Both Caron and Carter Camper didnt get a shift in the final 20 minutes when Claude Julien shortened his bench, and with Camper it was understandable in his first career NHL game. But Caron needs to start being more of a consistent factor when his line was a liability getting hemmed into the zone throughout the game. No shots, no hits and no presence in 5:14 of ice time on nine shifts.
Tim Thomas wasnt able to track the pucks in the first period when screens and bouncing pucks added up to a pair of goals allowed, but Thomas locked it down in the second period. The Bruins were out-shot by a 14-4 margin in the middle 20 minutes, but Thomas locked things down and finished things off with a flourishing glove save on Kris Russell from the high slot area. Thomas finished with 30 saves and the kind of bounce-back performance enjoyed by the entire team, but his ability to hold it together in the second was a big key.
Zdeno Chara was second on the Bs in ice time with 23:27, finished with a plus-3, doled out five hits and was the kind of menacing defensive presence hes always been known for. Big Zee led the way with some stalwart defensive work and enjoyed his best game in about two weeks while rising to the occasion when the team needed it. His play and the teams result are inexorably linked and Wednesday nights win over the Blues just hammered that fact home.
BY THE NUMBERS
13-0-0 the record this season for the Bruins when Chris Kelly notches at least one goal. His strike at the end of the first ended up being the game-winner and tied his single-season career-high with 15 goals on the year.
QUOTE TO NOTE
What does Cam always say? The flu is just a really good sweat. Shawn Thornton when asked if the flu would ever keep him out of an NHL game after playing 11:09 of ice time while fighting through a flu bug that kept him out of the morning skate.