On Friday, when the top three lines didn’t have their sharpest stuff, the Bruins turned to the hard hats to keep them in the game.
The first two goals came off the sticks of fourth-liners Shawn Thornton and Gregory Campbell.
“They played an extremely good game for us,” coach Claude Julien said of the fourth line after the Bruins’ 4-2 victory over the Islanders at TD Garden. “They allowed us to stay in the game for two periods until we got ourselves going a little bit.”
Thornton opened the scoring at 4:52 with his first goal of the season. Goalie Rick DiPietro had stopped Thornton’s initial shot. But Campbell chased down the rebound in the corner and fed Dougie Hamilton at the point.
As Hamilton loaded up, Thornton and Daniel Paille charged to the front of the net. They were rewarded for their willingness to head for the paint. DiPietro stuffed Hamilton’s point shot. But both Paille and Thornton got their sticks on the rebound, with the enforcer recording the final touch before the puck crossed the line.
The grinders recorded their second goal in the second period. Again, it was net-front presence that led to the goal. David Krejci’s shot deflected off the skate of Joe Finley. Campbell, lurking in the slot, was in the right place to sweep in the puck for his first goal of the season.
“We’ve always said that they’ve been huge and they give us some momentum on the ice with great plays, but also with big goals,” Patrice Bergeron said. “Tonight was the same perfect example.”
The line also submitted its usual thumps. Paille laid one of the night’s biggest smacks when he dropped Brian Strait in the Islanders’ zone. Paille’s hit caught the attention of Matt Martin, who tried to address the situation.
Both Paille and Martin shed their gloves. Martin (121 penalty minutes last year) has more mitts-off experience than Paille. Thornton recognized the mismatch and grabbed Martin before any punches flew. Martin was called for a double unsportsmanlike conduct penalty. Paille drew a single unsportsmanlike conduct. Thornton was dismissed for a 10-minute misconduct infraction.
“Everybody is used to seeing that from Thornty,” Campbell said of the right wing’s actions. “He’s got a tough job. Everyone in here respects him tremendously. I think that goes without saying on this team. We have each others’ backs. It was a clean hit. I guess it’s part of the game. But team toughness is an important aspect of a hockey team.”
Slick on the draw
Through four games, four of the Bruins’ five regular faceoff men had won more than half of their draws. Two of the four (Rich Peverley and Chris Kelly) are on the same line.
The righthanded-shooting Peverley (64.7 percent) and lefthanded-shooting Kelly (64.3 percent) have given the Bruins an advantage in even-strength and penalty-killing situations.
They can take faceoffs on their backhands, which most players prefer.
They also know if one cheats on the draw and gets tossed from the circle, another reliable faceoff man can be there for relief purposes.
“It’s another centerman out there,” Kelly said. “You can get in there a little lower than usual. Most lines, they have two wingers that don’t take draws on a consistent basis. We’re lucky that we do.”
Kelly and Peverley’s faceoff efficiency has been especially handy on the penalty kill, where they are regular partners.
On defensive-zone draws to start penalty kills, Julien can keep the pair together because of their dependability.
When one of them wins a draw to begin the penalty kill, it trims valuable time off a power play.
Also, Julien doesn’t have to bust up the duo because of faceoff concerns. Sometimes, Julien sends out two centers to improve faceoff efficiency.
“If it’s on the strong side, the guy takes it,” Julien said. “If he gets kicked out, we don’t have to worry about it being a winger taking that draw. Sometimes I end up putting out two centers because of that reason.
“Those guys do a great job on faceoffs. They read off each other well. They’ve become pretty good linemates reading off each other, as well.”
Four straight for Rask
Tuukka Rask made his fourth straight start. Anton Khudobin will likely make his season debut on Monday against Carolina. “Tuukka is Tuukka,” Julien said. “Lot of pressure on him to replace the guy that left us. But he’s doing his job. So far, he’s been really good for us.” . . . Dennis Seidenberg returned after missing two games because of a lower-body injury. Seidenberg recorded six hits and four blocked shots in 18:14 of ice time. He was paired with Hamilton . . . Milan Lucic engaged in his first fight of the season. With the Islanders trailing, 1-0, in the first, Matt Carkner tried to spark his team by challenging Lucic. Carkner’s reward: a straight right to the chin, which ended the fight . . . The Bruins are 17 for 17 on the penalty kill through four games. They killed all three Islanders’ opportunities Friday . . . Former Islander Jay Pandolfo participated in the morning skate. He remains on his professional tryout agreement, not a standard player contract . . . Lane MacDermid and Aaron Johnson were the healthy scratches.