Bruins take charge
Last night at TD Garden, the Stanley Cup was not present. The 2011-12 championship banner was already in place. Tim Thomas was making game-changing saves. Brad Marchand was at his agitating best. The Bruins had good team speed and transitioned quickly from defense to offense.
If Thursday’s season-opening loss to the Flyers was about pageantry and one final look back at a triumphant run, last night’s 4-1 win over Tampa Bay was all about getting back to business.
“That was kind of the opening night for us,’’ Zdeno Chara said. “It’s nice to get the rhythm. I thought we were much better prepared mentally and physically as well.’’
As expected, the Bruins were off their collective game against the Flyers. The emotion of the evening was overwhelming, and their early adrenaline disappeared halfway through the first period.
Last night, they sustained all their energy, emotion, and tactical awareness for 60 minutes. The Bruins hammered Mathieu Garon with 42 pucks, many from the in-close danger zones.
“It was a good game tonight,’’ said coach Claude Julien. “Overall, we did a great job. They’ve got a pretty potent offense. I think we handled them well tonight with their big guns. I like the fact that we threw a lot of pucks at the net.’’
Rich Peverley led the offensive charge with a pair of strikes. Neither were the pretty kind. Then again, the man Peverley’s replacing on the second line wasn’t known for highlight goals.
Toward the end, Mark Recchi scored his goals the blue-collar way. Recchi went to the front of the net and stayed there to bang in rebounds and tips. Both of Peverley’s goals had a Rex-like look to them.
In the first period, after Marchand had rung a puck off iron, Peverley was in the right place. The right wing had muscled past Brett Clark to gain net-front position. After doing that dirty work, Peverley was rewarded with a simple tap-in to beat Garon at 2:04.
In the third, after the Bruins claimed a 3-1 lead, Peverley gave his club a three-goal cushion. Garon got a piece of Patrice Bergeron’s shot. But Peverley, going hard to the net, whacked in the rebound at 8:43.
“He’s obviously a Hall of Famer for a reason,’’ Peverley said of Recchi. “He did a great job over his career. I’m not trying to be him. I’m just trying to play my game and use my speed. Hopefully I can get goals whichever way they come.’’
At the other end, Thomas submitted a trademark performance. He stopped 25 of 26 shots, beaten only by former Vermont classmate Martin St. Louis on a second-period breakaway.
Thomas made the routine saves, but he also submitted the dazzlers.
In the first period, the Lightning went on a power play after Johnny Boychuk was called for slashing. The teams were already playing four-on-four because Marchand and Steve Downie had been whistled for matching roughing minors earlier in the first.
The Lightning sent out their big guns for the four-on-three PP: St. Louis, Steven Stamkos, Vincent Lecavalier, and Ryan Malone. The Lightning like to feature multiple looks on the power play, but their go-to set piece is Stamkos at the left circle for a one-timer.
After whipping the puck around the formation, the Lightning had the look they wanted. Lecavalier, from the right circle, threaded a pass through the slot for Stamkos. As Stamkos brought the hammer down on a one-timer, Thomas pushed from left to right to get in front of the sniper’s slapper.
“They set it up for two or three different options,’’ Thomas said. “You throw the cheats out the window. You can’t really cheat on any one thing. You’ve just got to be ready to move to where they tic-tac-toe it. I was fortunate enough to be able to get over in time on that one.’’
Early in the third, the Bruins were hanging on to a 2-1 lead. About 1:45 into the third, Teddy Purcell slipped open for an uncontested shot from the left circle. Thomas went to a seldom-used piece of equipment to make the stop on Purcell’s shot: his mask.
Less than two minutes later, David Krejci knocked in the rebound of a Milan Lucic shot to give the Bruins a 3-1 edge.
“To me, Timmy looked more like the Timmy we know,’’ Julien said. “He looked calm. He looked comfortable in net. He made things look pretty easy, even on the big saves. He was challenging well. To me, that’s closest to last year as I’ve seen Timmy tonight. He certainly played a solid game for us.’’