The Bruins beat the Predators for their second straight win on Tuesday. (Winslow Townson/USA Today Sports)
Tuukka Rask and the Bruins remember being booed off the ice in their last home game, a 6-3 loss to the Lightning last Thursday.
They were booed back to the locker room for a number of reasons, too.
Their slow start, which Bruins interim coach Bruce Cassidy blamed partially on himself, was trouble. Their inability to hold a lead — the Bruins blew three leads in less than three minutes of total action in the second period — was painful. And their third period,complete with the soft game-winning goal surrendered from Rask, was just straight-up dreadful and perhaps their worst period of the year.
But tonight’s sellout crowd had not a single thing to boo on Tuesday night, as the Bruins did everything they didn’t do in their last home game, and built off the positives of last Saturday’s road win over the Isles, to defeat the Predators by a 4-1 final at TD Garden.
With the Preds having come to Boston on the second leg of a back-to-back that began last night in Brooklyn, Cassidy made it a point of emphasis following the club’s morning skate that the Black and Gold simply had to jump on the Predators early and often to play with the lead. And it was just 2:28 into the first period that Patrice Bergeron and the Bruins found their lead, as No. 37 hopped on a Pekka Rinne and hammered his 18th goal of the season home, on just the third shot of the game.
It was your classic ‘two birds, one stone’ type of goal for the Bruins, too, as Bergeron’s tally was the first five-on-five tally from a member of the Bruins’ top six forward corps in over 235 minutes of action, which has become another concern for a B’s group with too many to count heading into the final seven games of their regular season.
But you needed to see the Bruins shut the door at the other end before you could relax.
And with the Preds still looking for their first shot of the game immediately after the Bergeron tally, you had a feeling that the failure to get that key stop (something Cassidy has asked out of Rask) could have a spiraling effect on the team.
Rask delivered, though, and the Bruins expanded on that lead before the end of the second, with David Krejci’s 22nd goal of the season, tucked through Rinne’s legs at 13:52 after a great give-and-go that began with David Pastrnak at the attacking blue, and the Bruins had their 2-0 lead and the strong start against a straight-up winded Nashville group.
Oh, and another five-on-five goal from the talents that have been missing a bit too much for your liking over the last week plus.
The Predators gave it a strong push, however, with a nine-shot second period in which the Bruins relied heavily on Rask, who finished the night with stops on 24-of-25 shots thrown his way, as the Bruins’ 2-0 lead held through two periods.
Even when the Predators responded with a Craig Smith tip-in to make it a one-goal game just over the midway point of the third period, the Bruins came right back behind the first goal of forward Noel Acciari’s NHL career.
Advantageous is the word you can use when talking about the Bruins in this game, and rightfully so.
Realizing their situation as a team with a chance to bank some more points and pad their playoff positioning lead, the Bruins answered the challenge. And realizing the situation of their opponent, a winded bunch from Monday in Brooklyn, the Bruins upped the ante and broke Nashville’s will to win this game.
For a team that’s been as dangerously inconsistent as the B’s have this year, these points were gigantic and necessary.
The Bruins return to the ice Thursday night against the Stars.