They had been through this so many times before--they would score and give momentary life to the thirsty Bruins bench. The crowd would erupt, and just when things started looking pretty good, a bad luck bounce would put an end to any elation they conjured up.
In fact, it's been almost a curse for the Bruins this season, and one that nearly plagued them again, tonight. The Bruins went into the locker room after the second period with their heads held high, and a 3-2 lead. They had netted two goals in that frame--one from Patrice Bergeron and the other, former Senator Chris Kelly.
But just when they felt like they might have any sort of momentum, five minutes into the final period, Jared Cowen, a greenhorn defenseman took a shot from the blueline and put it past Tim Thomas who was screened the entire way. That goal tied the game with almost 15 minutes left to go in the third period--ample time for a Senators team who won two of their games last week with less than 5 seconds left to go in the game.
However, unlike other games and other trials and tribulations, the Bruins came back and did something they haven't done very often all year--they didn't put their head down, but instead they came back just a minute and a half later to score the eventual game winning goal, maintain and add to that lead and give them a 5-3 win.
That goal came from Bruins defenseman Johnny Boychuk. Boychuk entered tonight's game without recording a goal this season. He did note however that last season, he didn't put one in the goal column until closer to the middle of the season, so while this helped boost his team to victory, it was also good for his overall confidence.
"It feels a lot better, getting that first one by, so you don't have to worry about it," Boychuk said, grinning. "I don't think I got one until January last year, so I did a little bit better."
Boychuk's' goal reignited a team that refused to fall victim to another disappointing and frustrating loss. With the score 4-3, a final breakaway goal by Daniel Paille solidified the efforts and snapped the Bruins three game losing streak, as well as the Senators six-game winning tear.
"They've come back so many times in the third period and we knew that we had to just bear down when we had the puck and make sure we slipped it to the forwards and buried it in deep," Boychuk said. "Every game we try to bear down, especially when we had the lead tonight. We knew what kind of team--they never give up so we didn't want to give them an easy one and let them back in the game."
For the first time since last year, the entire locker room felt like tonight's performance was the closest the team has been to its potential all year. 13 different Bruins put up points, including goals from all four lines, and they maintained a level of discipline-something other teams have tried to break them with.
"That’s what you want," head coach Claude Julien said. "That’s what made our team successful last year, and I think it’s important to get some of that and obviously help guys get their confidence, too. When everybody goes out there and contributes in the fashion that they did tonight, it’s a lot better for the confidence of the whole team."
There was almost a sigh of relief in the room as every player looked to the other and could honestly say it was a solid team effort. Tim Thomas looked to the media and said he was surprised to see everyone at his stall because the game "wasn't about me."
"We needed to win," Thomas said. "I don’t know if it’s a must win game, because there is time left in the season. But we needed to win and we needed to start somewhere and we did that tonight."
As for Boychuk, he was the hero in a necessary win for the ailing team, but it was also a monkey off his back. When asked if he thought about things like when he was going to score his first goal, his response seemed to echo the thoughts of the entire team and their efforts tonight.
He simply shrugged, smiled and said, "Well, not anymore."