To the nines
Bruins look sensational as they torch the Flames
By now, Black-and-Gold bludgeonings are becoming routine. A one-goal win is seen as curious. A loss of any kind is considered an anomaly.
Last night, before 17,565 fans at TD Garden, it was business as usual.
The Bruins poured three first-period pucks past Calgary goalie Leland Irving. In the second, they torched Irving for three more goals, chasing the starter from the game. They put three more shots behind Miikka Kiprusoff en route to a 9-0 win that had the locals chanting, “We want 10,’’ by night’s end.
It was the 11th time this season the Bruins have scored six or more goals. Last night, they brought the hammer down quicker than you can say “Thor.’’
“It’s pretty fun to watch, fun to be a part of,’’ said Benoit Pouliot. “I didn’t expect that at all, scoring like we’ve been scoring all year. Our plus differential’s been pretty high.
“Our goalies are the main thing, keeping us in the game. We’ve backed them up and kept the momentum on our side.’’
It was the Bruins’ first nine-goal decision since Dec. 22, 1987, when they scored a 9-0 win over Buffalo. Eight players submitted multi-point games. Nathan Horton and Patrice Bergeron notched a pair of goals apiece. And Tuukka Rask stopped 25 shots to post his third shutout in four starts.
Only 74 seconds into the night, Tyler Seguin gave the Bruins a 1-0 lead. Just over two minutes later, Milan Lucic’s cross-ice pass caromed off Olli Jokinen’s skate and zoomed past a helpless Irving. David Krejci stamped an exclamation point on the first period with a power-play goal.
The deluge continued in the second when the Bruins found the back of the net four times, including Horton’s two strikes. They capped the barrage with a pair of third-period goals, including a Daniel Paille shorthanded tally.
Perhaps the most challenging part of the laugher was respecting the game and the opponent. Accordingly, the Flames played professionally despite the score and didn’t display their frustrations via cheap shots.
“We certainly didn’t try to make the situation any worse for them than it was,’’ said Bruins coach Claude Julien. “At the same time, we certainly didn’t want to take anything away from our game and our good habits.’’
Those habits were on display with less than 10 seconds remaining in the game. When Chris Butler wound up for a power-play slap shot, one that could have ruined Rask’s shutout, Gregory Campbell hit the deck to block the defenseman’s attempt. Last month, Campbell fractured his foot while blocking a shot.
“He always battles hard,’’ Rask said. “We always try to say that to each other. No matter what the score is, if we play like we always do, that’s a great example of that.’’
Consider the superlatives:
■ Brad Marchand did not dress because of flu-like symptoms. Pouliot, the Montreal castoff, was promoted to ride shotgun with Bergeron and Seguin, and he recorded an assist in each period. “It says we’ve got depth and we back each other up and we’re missing one of our best players,’’ said Pouliot (four shots in 14:28 of ice time). “Some guys need to step up.’’
■ The Bruins dominated on the draw, winning 37 of 53 faceoffs (70 percent). Bergeron (13 for 17) and Krejci (9 for 12) paced the team.
■ The Bruins were equal-opportunity abusers of Irving (six goals allowed on 21 shots) and Kiprusoff (three goals on 21 attempts). The Flames wanted to give Kiprusoff an entire game off, but the Bruins spoiled that plan by tucking six pucks behind Irving, prompting coach Brent Sutter to call for help.
It was the seventh time this season the Bruins chased a starting goalie. They are 7-0-0 in those games.
“You kind of wish you were somewhere else,’’ Rask said.
■ The Bruins limited the Flames to 25 shots. Other than an in-close Jarome Iginla attempt, Rask didn’t have to make many tough stops.
It was the latest example of the Bruins’ multi-threat approach. They have become a juggernaut that can club other teams in many ways. They can play the tight defensive game. They can open up the game and torch opposing goalies. They can pound opponents through the glass.
Above all, the Bruins have two standouts at the game’s most important position.
“We have built our team a certain way,’’ said Rask (9-4-1, 1.49 goals-against average, .949 save percentage). “It’s not that we dangle guys and make solo goals at the net. It’s something we recognize and we’ve worked on for a couple years.
“Now it seems like we don’t want to try anything fancy. We try to play our style of hockey. It seems to work good. It’s in the backs of our heads to play the same way.’’
You name it, the Bruins can do it.
“Are we a better team? For the moment,’’ Julien answered when asked if this year’s team is better than last year’s championship squad. “Are we going to be a better team at the end of the year? That’s up to us to make sure that happens.’’