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Boychuk’s goal was quick start

Defenseman gives offense early boost

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By Michael Vega
Globe Staff / March 25, 2011

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Johnny Boychuk’s goal was the first jolt. It sparked an avalanche in the Bruins’ 7-0 beatdown of the Canadiens last night before a TD Garden sellout crowd of 17,565.

The fact it came as early as it did, at the 1:01 mark of the first period, and from an unlikely goal scorer such as Boychuk, a defenseman who entered the game having scored just one goal all season, gave the Bruins a lift in the playoff atmosphere.

“It was really important,’’ said David Krejci, who was credited with an assist on Boychuk’s goal along with Zdeno Chara, the game’s No. 1 star who recorded a career-high three helpers. “It’s good for us to come out and first shift, Johnny got a puck through and it went in. So, it was a good start.’’

While Nathan Horton and Gregory Campbell had bigger nights, each potting two goals, Boychuk’s tally, his first since Jan. 18 at Carolina, clearly set the tone for the type of pressure the Bruins exerted on Canadiens goaltender Carey Price, who was pulled in the third after giving up goals to Horton (22d of the season) and Adam McQuaid (third) in a 26-second span.

Boychuk’s goal, though, seemed to dissipate whatever tensions the Bruins had coming into this game after Chara had been targeted as an object of scorn in Montreal following his controversial hit on Max Pacioretty in the Bruins’ 4-1 loss at the Bell Centre March 8.

“He’s been playing well no matter what, and just to see him come out like he did tonight, it shows what kind of team captain we got,’’ Boychuk said of Chara.

Boychuk, though, wound up being the beneficiary of Chara’s determination at the outset. After all, Boychuk scored on a rebound of a hard blue-line shot by Chara that Price had cleared.

“It just hit the boards and came straight to me,’’ Boychuk said.

With Milan Lucic standing in front of the net screening Price, Boychuk retrieved the puck, walked it in to the right circle, and reared back for the shot that beat Price. An onslaught ensued when Campbell (13:43) and Horton (17:28, power play) followed with goals to give the Bruins a 3-0 lead.

But did Boychuk’s tally help dissipate any pressure the Bruins may have been feeling?

While Horton said, “We were a little bit nervous before the game, it’s a big game, and to get that first goal really calmed us down,’’ coach Claude Julien begged to differ.

“As far as all the other stuff, it was never an issue to start with,’’ Julien said. “So that had nothing to do with dissipating after the first goal . . . It was about coming in tonight ready to play and nothing else about that, that was never an issue for our hockey club. It was important for us to win this hockey game, to play it right, and to do it our way, and that’s what we did.’’

And it all began with Boychuk’s goal. His assist on the second goal gave Boychuk his first multiple-point game of the season and third of his career.

On a night when the Bruins were filling the net with pucks, did he hope it would be a two-goal night?

“Oh, yeah,’’ he said, smiling. “The next one hit off the top of [Price’s] pad. The next one, [Campbell] tipped and it hit off the post. It would’ve been nice to get two. You can’t get greedy. You just want to shoot the puck on net and if you get two, that’s great.’’

But getting the first one, though, had its merits.

“Every goal was nice tonight,’’ Boychuk said.

Michael Vega can be reached at vega@globe.com.

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