|It took the Bruins only 19 seconds to begin celebrating, following a goal by Marc Savard (right), his fourth of the season. (Barry Chin/Globe Staff)|
Their offense jammed for weeks, as if a computer virus wormed its way into their minds and sticks, the Bruins finally found the "reset" button last night en route to a 5-2 victory over the Maple Leafs before 16,373 at TD Banknorth Garden.
Limited to five goals in their previous four games, the Bruins were paced by a pair of strikes from Peter Schaefer, and one each from Marc Savard, Marco Sturm, and Toronto's own Glen Metropolit, who banged home the 3-1 lead midway through the second period with Schaefer clearing his way to the net with a successful pick near the right post.
The Bruins, who entered the game with the fewest goals in the NHL, scored in every period en route to their second straight win. They cycled the puck, played well along the boards, finished checks, won a fight (Milan Lucic playing tavern bouncer to miscreant customer Mark Bell), and otherwise took advantage of former Black and Gold brother Andrew Raycroft, who managed but 22 saves in the Toronto net, while Tim Thomas turned back 34 for his seventh victory.
The three-goal spread equaled Boston's largest margin of victory this season, matching a 4-1 win over Tampa Bay Oct. 18. Perhaps now, as they approach the season's quarter mark, the Bruins will begin to score with regularity and muscle their way into contention for a playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.
"I hope so," said coach Claude Julien, asked if he sensed his squad finally relaxed a little bit amid its scoring fortunes. "We'll probably have a better idea after the next game in Montreal. "You hope it helps your players' confidence . . . we know we have to start scoring night after night."
Schaefer had only one goal heading into the night and the ex-Senator finished 2-1 -3, which added 50 percent to his point total. Linemate Brandon Bochenski also picked up two assists, his first points of the season. Metropolit added 1-1 -2, giving the line a total of 3-4 -7 on nine shots.
"It was fun for us to finally get on the board," said Bochenski.
Schaefer, acquired in the swap that sent Shean Donovan to the Senators, was touted as being strong along the boards and effective around the net. His overall play has been spotty, much like the entire cast of Black and Gold forwards. But last night he was more of a presence nearly everywhere on the ice, and his goals, in a span of 3:24 in the third, put the night out of reach for the Leafs.
"I guess you could say that," said Schaefer, asked if he had been feeling pressure to put up some numbers. "When you aren't scoring, and you know you aren't helping the team as much as you can, you definitely aren't feeling as good as you should."
The Bruins needed only 19 seconds to get on the board, Savard ripping home a one-time slapper from the left faceoff dot after a nifty exchange with Glen Murray. Normally, Murray rips home the one-timer, but this time he set it up, after twirling around with Savard on the left wing. Later in the period, Murray missed an easy forehand swat near the right post, Savard dishing him a soft feed off a rush. Murray has gone 13 straight games without a goal.
"No doubt in my mind he deserves a goal," said Julien, who needs Murray to start potting goals if his club is to have a realistic chance of contending for a postseason spot. "It's not from lack of trying, and it's not from lack of work . . . hopefully, he'll be getting a break."
The Leafs negated Savard's goal at 11:08 of the first when Kyle Wellwood swatted in a backhander at the top of the crease on a power play. But only 32 seconds later, Sturm walked into a fat rebound after Raycroft saved a long Dennis Wideman shot. Bruins, 2-1.
Metropolit's goal provided a 3-1 lead midway through the second, and only 1:41 later, Alexei Ponikarovsky potted his seventh of the season to trim the margin to 3-2. But Thomas shut the door from there, snuffing out the final 21 shots the Leafs mustered over the final 28 minutes.
"We've been struggling to score goals," noted Schaefer. "Tim Thomas has been great for us all year, as he was tonight, so it was nice finally to help him out."
Kevin Paul Dupont can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.