Mired in their annual mid-season slump, the Boston Bruins came into
Dallas on Thursday night looking to improve on - well - everything.
"It's gut-check time right now," Bruins' forward Reilly Smith said before the game, "and the points are huge."
winning their first two games of the new year, Boston had lost three of
four coming into American Airlines Arena in Dallas, desperate for any
kind of momentum to break their skid, staring down a brutal back-to-back
set with a nationally televised matinee Sunday at Chicago and followed
up on Monday night at home against the Los Angeles Kings...
Time for a gut-check, indeed.
Krejci snapped a six-game goal drought and Milan Lucic got a 10-game
monkey off his back in helping the Bruins to a hopefully-funk-breaking
4-2 victory over the Stars.
Brad Marchand and Patrice Bergeron also
found twine as Boston recorded their 30th victory of the season and,
with Tampa Bay losing to the surging New York Islanders, claim back sole
possession of first place in the Atlantic Division.
Cole scored for the Stars, who have now dropped seven of their last
eight and failed in their bid to win consecutive games in nearly a
month, Jamie Benn also netting his 17th of the season and ex-Bruin Tyler
Seguin assisting on both Dallas Goals.
At issue in
Boston's over-hyped mini-slump, their normally burly defense had given
up over four goals per game while scoring an average of just two despite
generally outplaying their foes, running into hot goaltenders on their
three-game roadie through California while their own netminder, Tuukka
Rask, seemed out of sync, whiffing on saves that he normally would make.
Rask wouldn't see the ice in Dallas, though starting netminder Chad
Johnson came perilously close to a serious eye injury when teammate
Zdeno Chara's stick found it's way inside his cage, leaving him sprawled
on the ice, bloody and missing a contact lens. Team trainers shored up
the leak just under his left eye and Johnson finished up the second
period sans the lens.
Johnson stopped 32 of 34 shots in his first start since mid-December.
teams also had a goal disallowed, Boston's Gregory Campbell deflecting
the puck behind Dallas Goalie Kari Lehtonen with his shin pad just three
and a half minutes in, but the replay official ruled that he had made a
kicking motion and waved off the score - while Dallas had one waved off
later in the game when the officials ruled that they had blown the
whistle before a puck skidded past Johnson from a scrum in front of the
Krejci started the scoring for real with only four
seconds remaining in the second period, taking a low pass from Lucic in
the high slot and slapping a laser past Lehtonen, but Cole tied things
up just over a minute into the final frame, Seguin throwing a puck into
the slot that deflected off an unaware Cole for a garbage goal of an
The Bruins responded exactly two minutes
later, Marchand giving the Bruins the lead for good with a wrister from
point blank, then Lucic redirecting a Krejci shot with the shaft of his
stick for the eventual gamer with 4:14 remaining in regulation.
made things interesting with a man advantage goal after Lehtonen had
abandoned his post in favor of the extra skater, but Bergeron put the
dagger in the Stars with an empty-netter less than a minute later.