The Bruins haven’t been able to get their offense and defense going at the same time too often this season. They did so emphatically on Thursday.
Playing what was essentially a must-win to keep realistic playoff hopes alive, the Bruins scored a pair of goals the first three minutes of the first and two goals in the opening minute of the third as they raced to a 5-2 victory over the Red Wings at TD Garden. The B’s held Detroit to 15 shots on goal, with Tuukka Rask making 13 saves.
The Flyers were surprisingly losing to the Maple Leafs at the time of Boston’s victory over Detroit, but a late goal for Philadelphia with their goaltender pulled forced overtime.
Thursday’s victory also left open the possibility of getting the third spot in the Atlantic Division. The B’s and Red Wings are now tied with 93 points on the season, with Detroit having the edge in regulation and overtime wins. If the Bruins win Saturday against the Senators and the Red Wings either lose in any way or win in a shootout Saturday against the Rangers, Boston will get the third spot in the Atlantic.
Here are four more things we learned Thursday:
BRUINS GET ANOTHER 30-GOAL-SCORER
A late scoring change revealed that what looked to be a David Krejci goal was indeed tipped by Loui Eriksson, giving him 30 goals on the season.
This marks the first time since 2002-03 that the Bruins have had three 30-goal-scorers, as Eriksson joined Brad Marchand (37 goals this season) and Patrice Bergeron (32) goals as Bruins to reach the plateau this season.
KRUG DOES EVERYTHING (WHICH FINALLY INCLUDES SCORING)
Big news from the Krug family:
Torey Krug blasted a shot from the point on a second-period power play for his first goal in 55 games. That made for the second point of a three-point night for Krug, as he also had the primary assist on Marchand’s goal and did a great job keeping the puck in the zone prior to a third-period Lee Stempniak goal. Krug would have had a fourth assist, but Loui Eriksson hit the post after Krug fed the forward on a third-period power play.
It wasn’t all pretty for Krug, however. With the Bruins on a first-period power play and the puck having been cleared into the Bruins’ zone, Krug sent the puck in front of Boston’s net to Jonathan Ericsson, who fired a puck from the slot that Tuukka Rask mercifully stopped to keep Detroit scoreless in the first. Krug was also called for holding fellow Michigan native Dylan Larkin in the third period.
SPOONER TAKEN OFF TOP UNIT, MOVED TO WING
Ryan Spooner, who is believed to have been dealing with a lower-body injury for much of the second half of the season, was moved to left wing for Thursday’s game. Typically Boston’s third-line center, Spooner moved to the second line to play with David Krejci and Eriksson as Max Talbot centered the third line.
Spooner began the game on the Bruins’ first power play unit in his customary spot on the half wall, but uneasiness with the puck and a bad pass to the point that ended up clearing the puck eventually led Claude Julien to take him off the unit.
The move paid off for the B’s, as Eriksson replaced Spooner on the half wall and Matt Beleskey moved to the front of the net for second-period power play on which Krug scored.
Spooner, who had two even-strength points in his previous 12 games, ended up chipping in on a third-period goal. The 24-year-old forward wheeled around to throw a puck towards the front of the net that David Krejci and then Eriksson redirected past Jimmy Howard for Boston’s fifth goal, which chased Howard from the game.
FOURTH LINE A KEEPER
Claude Julien juggled his lines quite a bit in Wednesday’s practice and into Thursday’s game. For the most part, all of them fared well:
Among the major takeaways, however, was that the B’s might have themselves a strong fourth line for the time being in Noel Acciari between Frank Vatrano and Landon Ferraro. The line drew a pair of penalties and also turned in a key shift against Detroit’s third line in the second period shortly after Detroit scored to cut Boston’s lead to two. The shift, which saw Vatrano essentially play keepaway at points, eventually forced an icing from Detroit.
Claude Julien deployed the fourth line against Detroit’s third line and used Talbot line against the fourth line.
Should the Bruins reach the playoffs, Vatrano should be in the lineup and perhaps be moved up and down depending on the needs of that game a la Rich Peverley in years past. For now, he looks like a good fit on what could be a strong fourth line.