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Hollywood ending in LA

ANAHEIM, Calif. -- Coach Mike Sullivan is only 35, but after Saturday's white-knuckle, 4-3 comeback victory over the Kings in Los Angeles, the Bruins coach joked that if this keeps up, he'll feel like he's 80 by the end of his first season.

The Bruins were two teams in the contest. The first -- the Mr. Hyde version -- gave up three goals on seven power plays in the first period and was two men short on three occasions. The second -- the Dr. Jekyll version -- scored four unanswered goals, three of them in the third period. The tying strike was by 18-year-old rookie Patrice Bergeron with 2:32 left in regulation. Just 44 seconds later, Mike Knuble, who was reunited with Joe Thornton and Glen Murray on the top line, banged home the winner.

"This is one of those character-building-type games," said Sullivan, whose club beat the winless Anaheim Mighty Ducks, 4-3, last night at the Pond. "I think there are a lot of positives we can pull out of this.

"We've shown what we're capable of when we shoot ourselves in the foot in the first period and . . . for the last two periods, we showed what we can do when we play together as a group and we play with energy and emotion and we channel the emotion in the right direction. There's no question that to come back from a three-goal deficit the way we did and to come out with a victory is a huge character-builder for us."

It was by far the best performance the Bruins have gotten from Thornton and Murray. Although they produced only one goal, they were a force most of the night once the team stopped taking foolish penalties.

"I thought Joe and Glen really skated, and when they do, they're difficult to stop," said Sullivan. "And Mike is obviously a guy who complements them, and we knew that. This was something early in the season where we're trying to find combinations that are going to benefit the whole. Those two guys are key guys if we're going to be successful."

A goal by enforcer Sandy McCarthy at 13:19 of the second gave Boston a huge lift.

"He brings so much to our team," said Sullivan. "I think his intensity level in practices and in games, he just leaves it all out there. He got a big goal for us. He sacrifices his body all the time finishing checks. He's one of those guys who does so many things, it's difficult to measure for the average fan or in the statistical category. But he's just a big part of our team."

Then there was the kid -- Bergeron -- who not only had his first NHL goal but added a pair of assists.

"He's a guy who has consistently played very, very well," Sullivan said. "We put him in some critical situations at critical moments in the game and the coaching staff just has that comfort level with him that we feel like he's got a real good head for the game and an understanding and he's got a certain maturity level that's beyond his years."

Bergeron was beside himself with glee after the game.

"When I saw the puck, it wasn't a big hole, but I just wanted to put it in," he said. "It's hard to explain the feeling that I have. I'm happy. Your first one in the NHL, it's big, it's huge. When you're a kid, it's always a dream. It was great timing."

Knuble leaps at chance

Knuble's goal was one of being in the right place at the right time. Murray took the initial shot and Kings goalie Roman Cechmanek stopped it by putting his stick on the ice. But the puck caromed off the stick and went out to the goalie's right, where Knuble was waiting. "I got enough on it to sweep it between his legs," said Knuble, who potted his first of the year in the most dramatic fashion. He admitted his ears were still ringing from Sullivan's comments after the brutal first period. "Sully laid into us pretty good after the first and rightfully so," said Knuble. "He's basically had it up to his ears with our undisciplined play. He just had to get some things off his chest. We could tell. When we stopped taking penalties and the game started going five on five, we definitely carried the play. Sandy's goal, that was a big goal from a guy who's not expected to get goals. That gives everybody a shot. Not that he can't score goals, but when you get it from your third or fourth line, it's a big shot because it gets everybody going." And by moving back up to the top line, it got Knuble going as well. "My goal was to show I belonged there," said Knuble, who had a career-high 30 goals last year. "All three of us work well together. We kind of jumped right in and, personally, it felt like we didn't miss a step. It was fun."

Hanging in

Felix Potvin, who hasn't seen the team's best hockey in front of him on nights he's been in goal, faced 15 shots in the first period, then just three shots in the final 40 minutes, none in the final 20. He said he just tried to keep the team in it until things settled down. "Instead of putting our heads down, we turned it around and came back pretty hard," he said. "You work through stuff like that, adversity. It's a huge character win for us. Once we scored that first goal, you could see we had some life back. After the first goal, we knew we had a chance to win. I feel good in there; you can't hang your head down if you give up three goals. Sometimes it's hard at 3-0, but you've got to keep going and work your way out of it and that's what we did." . . . The Bruins wrap up the six-game swing tomorrow night when they face the Avalanche in Colorado. Their next home game is Thursday vs. the Carolina Hurricanes.

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