Just before the team hits the road for three on the West Coast versus some of the best the Western Conference has to offer, the B's had to take care of business on home ice.
photo via ESPNBoston.com
And they made it look easy.
With goals from Daniel Paille, Torey Krug and Reilly Smith, and 36 saves from Tuuka Rask, the Bruins outworked the Winnipeg Jets for a 4-1 victory, wrapping up a brief three-game home-stand before taking off for California.
The Bruins set the tone early, with Zdeno Chara taking on Jets' tough-guy Chris Thorburn, and Matt Fraser dropping the gloves with James Wright. They frustrated the Jets from the onset, and as the game wound on, the Bruins exerted their strength and skill and crushed the Jets' will to play.
photo via ESPNBoston.com
Dustin Byfuglien got the Jets on the board first with his ninth of the year at 10:54, but the lead only lasted for four minutes, and the Jets never saw the back of the net again on the day.
Danny Paille tied the game at one with his sixth of the year, with just under six minutes to go in the first. Paille and GregCampbell were grinding in the corner, with Paille eventually working the puck out for a quick wrap-around attempt. The puck missed everything and found its way to Krug in the left circle. Krug faked a shot, drawing four Jets, leaving Paille wide open next to the net, and Krug made no mistake in finding DP20, who rightly potted the goal into the empty net.
Early in the second, Krug broke the deadlock with his 9th of the year at 3:08, launching a seeing-eye slap shot from the blueline that somehow found its way past three bodies in front, one of them being the just-called-up Justin Florek. Florek had a chance just a few seconds before at the doorstep but couldn't put it home. Danny Paille kept the puck in the zone before giving off to Krug for the shot.
Torey Krug got his second of the game at 7:18 of the second, zipping an on-the-ice shot that took a deflection off of Jacob Trouba and past AndrejPavelec. At first it looked like Carl Soderberg got the tip, but the goal was rightly given to Krug for his 10th on the year, which puts him one ahead of Zdeno Chara for goals by defensemen on the team.
The B's fourth and final goal came from Reilly Smith, who was in perfect position to bat home a rebound in the crease off a Brad Marchand one-timer for his 15th tally of the season. Patrice Bergeron skated through the neutral zone to the blueline and zipped a cross-ice pass to Marchand. Marchand's quick shot was saved by Pavelec, but the deflection ricocheted straight into the body of Smith and into the net.
Some pushing and shoving ensued through the rest of the second and into the third, but the Jets by then had lost their will to compete. Adam McQuaid and old friend Mark Stuart also threw down in the third, wrapping up the physicality for the day.
It's easy to look past the lowly Jets ahead of their journey to the West Coast next week, but the B's never wavered, and it seems the Bruins learned their lesson about letting points slip away because of sloppy play (ahem, Islanders).
Jordan Caron was sat out due to back spasms, allowing Justin Florek to play in his first career NHL game. Florek is the fifth skater to make his NHL debut with the Bruins this year, joining the list that includes Craig Cunningham, Zach Trotman, David Warsofsky, and Kevan Miller.
Torey Krug's 9th and 10th goals tied him with the Sens' Erik Karlsson and the Preds' Shea Weber for the league lead for defensemen. He has 23 points on the year, five ahead of Zdeno Chara.
The point streaks' for David Krejci, Milan Lucic and Jarome Iginla were all snapped, ending at six games for each.
Reilly Smith has 15 goals and 17 assists on the year for 32 points, four behind David Krejci for the team lead. He will undoubtedly take home the Bruins' Sixth Man of the Year award come the end of the season.
Tuukka Rask rebounded nicely after a poor outing vs the Islanders on New Year's Eve, stopping 36 shots for his 21st win on the year.