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BRUINS 3, FLAMES 2

A nice comeback for Bruins

Home opener a happy return

He rarely raised his voice. He didn't fling sticks. He didn't panic.

But Dave Lewis, on the Boston job for five games, knew what he saw during a season-opening 1-3-1 road trip: Disaster.

Inconsistent goaltending. A brittle defense that shattered like china at critical times. A lifeless power play. And a misfiring attack that required a line shuffling late in the last road game, a 4-1 loss to the New York Islanders.

For any of that to continue at TD Banknorth Garden would have been unacceptable to the Bruins, their bosses, and their fans. Last night before a sellout crowd of 17,565 on Causeway Street, the Bruins struggled at times, but didn't fold in the moments when they needed to stand tall, swiping a 3-2 win over the Calgary Flames for their second -- and much needed -- victory of the season.

``We bent," said Lewis, ``but we didn't break."

Line up the expected stars: Glen Murray (two goals), Hannu Toivonen (26 saves), Zdeno Chara (29 minutes 55 seconds of ice time, including nearly the full two minutes of Calgary's final third-period power play), and Brad Boyes (game-opening goal only 18 seconds into the night, capping an odd-man rush with Marc Savard).

But while the big-name and big-money players showed their mettle last night, it was a top-to-bottom performance in which the club's unheralded players made big contributions. Fourth-liner Jeff Hoggan, bumped up to the third line with the absence of Marco Sturm (injured left thigh), had a team-high six shots and a second-period tussle with Calgary tough guy Darren McCarty.

Jason York and Nathan Dempsey, Boston's third defensive pairing that played fewer minutes combined in the season's first two games than Chara did in the 3-2 win over Tampa Bay, played thorough two-way hockey, logging double-digit minutes.

And perhaps the biggest play was by third-line winger Shean Donovan, the scrappy ex-Flame who jostled with former teammates in the second period to set up the winning goal. Donovan, parked in front of goalie Miikka Kiprusoff (27 saves), first created a screen on Chara's point blast, then drew a hooking penalty on defenseman Dion Phaneuf as he battled for a loose puck.

Four seconds later, during Boston's first power play of the game, Murray scored his second goal and fourth of the season to give the Bruins a 3-1 advantage with 35.6 ticks left in the period. Earlier in the night, Murray, set up in the slot, netted his first when he took a feed from Patrice Bergeron, settled the puck, and fired a shot five-hole through Kiprusoff to give the Bruins a 2-0 advantage.

``Every time we have a chance to cause traffic in front of their goalie, we have to do that," said Chara. ``It makes it tough for them. The goalie cannot make a save when he can't see the puck. Donovan and [Wayne] Primeau were battling hard in front of the net, and that's why we got the chance on the power play. That's why we scored the goal. It's all coming together. It's not just the power-play unit who's scoring goals. It's the line who's actually sacrificing and causing us to go on the power play. It's a team thing."

On the winning goal, Savard won the draw and got it to Murray, who shoveled the puck back to point man Paul Mara. The defenseman, the quarterback on the umbrella formation, cranked a slapper that thudded off Kiprusoff's right pad and to the stick of Murray, who did a stop-drop-and-roll maneuver as he roofed the rebound at 19:24 of the second period.

It was a crucial goal, as forward Alex Tanguay slipped behind the defense and tucked a backhander through Toivonen's pads at 10:24 of the third period.

It was the second time the Flames made it a one-goal game, wiping out Boston's 2-0 lead when forward Daymond Langkow, stationed at the right post, took a pass from Jarome Iginla and jammed it home at 16:59 of the second period.

The Bruins, who handed away a two-goal third-period lead last week to St. Louis, didn't repeat their mistake. Chara and his mates killed off Donovan's late holding penalty. Then, with Kiprusoff pulled for an extra skater, the Bruins never let the Flames set up their six-on-five formation.

``We knew that in games past, we had given up a 2-0 lead," Mara said. ``We were up, 3-1, and they got that second goal, but our character on this team battled through it. We got a huge effort and played great in the last few minutes."

Fluto Shinzawa can be reached at FShinzawa@globe.com.

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