The Bruins skated to a 5-2 win against Steve Stamkos last night and continue to gain momentum as they march towards the playoffs. The pre-game ceremony was all about Big Z playing in his 1000th NHL contest against the LA Kings and he delivered an excellent performance with 3 assists and a plus 3 rating on the night. He looked nimble as he weaved through the offensive zone to set up a goal by Shawn Thornton in the opening period to the delight of the TD Garden crowd.
Rich Peverley returning to the lineup has been huge in pulling the Bruins out of their midseason malaise. He has added speed up the wing with the willingness to shoot the puck. He is also added another option on the power play. While manning the point position he adds a nice dimension of shooting and play making ability to a power play that needs all the help it can get. Although they did not cash in on the power play it did produce some excellent scoring chances that were stopped by Dwayne Roloson who had 37 saves in the game.
Beside Stamkos, Roloson looked like the only Lightning player with gas in his take last night. He kept the game close for his team until the third period when the Bruins depth once again took over. The success in the third is a direct result of the Merlot line. The fourth line for the Bruins was buzzing all night. Gregory Campbell was outstanding on the PK and even strength, logging over 12 minutes of ice time which gives the top 3 lines the ability to be fresh in the third period. Amazingly, Shawn Thornton only had about 9 minutes of ice time but you would not have known it watching the game. He made every second of those 9 minutes count with 5 shots on net and a goal. It might have been the most efficient 9 minutes played in NHL history. This line is that catalyst for this Bruins club. I would lobby that all the Merlot line participants share the Bruins 7th player award this season.
The season is winding down and now is the time for teams to get hot and last night dominate performance was another step in the right direction for the defending Stanley Cup champions.