Bruins aren’t caught short
Bergeron fills the void in a solid win
For most of 2007-08 and a stretch of 2008-09, Patrice Bergeron was in a most uncomfortable position: out of uniform, dizzied by concussions, forced to watch his teammates make up for his absence.
So of every player wearing Black and Gold last night, it was a good guess that Bergeron felt the most satisfaction in a 3-2 win over Nashville that saw Marc Savard, Milan Lucic, and Shawn Thornton unavailable because of injuries, and former road roommate Chuck Kobasew, dealt to Minnesota on Sunday, also gone.
“Guys have stepped up for me in previous years,’’ said Bergeron (2-2 -4 in the last four games). “I guess I’m on the other side now.’’
Prior to the game, general manager Peter Chiarelli stated his confidence in Bergeron and David Krejci, the two skilled centers who are expected to play bigger roles while Savard mends his broken left foot.
Bergeron responded by playing one of his best games of 2009-10 while centering Brad Marchand and Michael Ryder. Bergeron scored the tying goal in the second period. He won 11 of 17 faceoffs. He replaced Savard as the half-wall guy on the No. 1 power-play unit (being a righthanded shot, he set up on the left boards; Savard usually mans the right side). His line produced regular scoring chances (four shots total).
Fittingly, Bergeron was on the ice for Nashville’s last-ditch six-on-five flurry that ended with three Tim Thomas specials - the first on Patric Hornqvist, second on Ryan Suter, third on Shea Weber with no time remaining.
“For me, Patrice has probably been our best and most consistent forward since the beginning of the year,’’ said Bruins coach Claude Julien. “Every game, he’s been a pretty good player. Even in those games where we haven’t played well, at the end of the night, you could say that he was one guy that was there for us. It’s nice.
“He’s got a couple guys who can produce on his line and certainly gave him that little boost. The youth in Marchand, and I find that Ryder has been skating much better the last three games or so. He seems to have picked up his skating. It made for a pretty good line. I liked that line tonight.’’
In the second period, the Bergeron line wiped out a 1-0 Nashville lead. After Derek Morris sent a puck along the right-side wall, Suter had trouble digging it off the boards. Marchand attacked Suter and stripped the puck away at the blue line to initiate a two-on-one. Marchand slipped the puck to Ryder through Kevin Klein. Ryder settled the puck on his backhand and lifted a top-shelf goal over Nashville goalie Dan Ellis’s glove at 0:26.
Later in the second, the Predators reclaimed the lead, as ex-Boston University star Colin Wilson scored his first NHL goal at 6:17, muscling Morris off the puck inside the crease.
But Bergeron tied the game again. Ellis got a piece of a Zdeno Chara one-timer from the left point, and the rebound skittered to Bergeron at the near post. Bergeron took several whacks at the puck, finally beating Ellis at 12:38.
“I think everyone needs to step up,’’ Bergeron said. “We’re not having the start that we wanted. Everybody’s got to step up their game, work hard, and bring some emotion on the ice.
“I thought the first [period] was OK. The second was a lot better. We had more emotion. We were battling more and skating better. It worked.’’
In the third period, it fell upon new Bruin Daniel Paille to make his mark. Paille, the fourth-line left wing alongside Steve Begin and Byron Bitz, started the play by getting in deep on the forecheck and belting Francis Bouillon. The former Montreal defenseman reversed the puck behind the net to Weber.
But Weber collided with referee Dennis LaRue, which allowed Begin to recover the puck and send it back down the wall into the left corner, where Paille tracked it down. Paille carried the puck around the net and threw it out front. The puck glanced off Cal O’Reilly and into the slot for Begin, who canned the winning goal at 8:33.
Paille skated 20 shifts for 14:22 of ice time.
“Obviously we noticed Paille’s speed and ability to get it on the forecheck,’’ said Julien. “He made a good play on Begin’s goal - forechecked and turned the puck over. He was good on the penalty kill for us.
“He’s a good addition. That line was another line that kept getting better as the game went along. Very reliable.’’
Tonight, the task gets tougher. The Bruins, yet to win two in a row this season, will be in Philadelphia to take on the Flyers.
“We’re standing here with another win,’’ Julien said. “But we’re also standing here knowing that we haven’t won two in a row yet. We haven’t been able to put two solid games together.
“We need to be much better [tonight] against a pretty good team.’’