This time, the celebration was warranted.
After Jordan Caron had a goal waved off by a quick whistle in Thursday night’s opener against the Lightning, the third-line winger connected again against the Red Wings. And this time the goal counted, helping propel the Bruins to a 4-1 win Saturday night in front of a full house at TD Garden.
His exaggerated arm pump after the red light went on could be understood. Caron is finally seeing his talent blossoming, seeing himself convert in the ways the Bruins always have wanted him to convert. He is being aggressive in all phases — near the net, on the forecheck, drawing penalties.
“Lot of emotion,” said Caron, who scored at 7:58 of the second, Boston’s third goal of the night. “I was thinking a little bit about the last one, last game. I think that was a tough call. But today counted, so everything is good.”
The left winger has been part of the dynamic third line — a trio that, until a week ago looked like it would contain Carl Soderberg and not Caron. But a rut in the ice and a sprained ankle changed all that, putting Caron in position to play — and play well.
On the goal, Reilly Smith corralled a loose puck and sent it behind his back to Caron, who converted. It was a pretty moment from two players who didn’t know they’d be sharing the ice just a week ago.
“I think he’s a little more confident, which is great to see,” linemate Chris Kelly said. “Last game I thought it was a goal, but those things happen. But just the fact that he took the puck to the net and drove hard to the net. He had a couple other chances tonight. It was good to see him score.”
Caron said he has stayed loose, especially in the offensive zone, and that has enabled him to create more than he has in the past. He has relaxed with the puck, exactly what he hasn’t done in other years when he has put too much pressure on himself, and lost confidence with every misstep.
“I want to keep that spot,” said Caron, who also helped by drawing an interference penalty on Danny DeKeyser in the third. “Just keep playing, get the ice time that goes with it. Hopefully it’s going to keep going that same way.”
It was a statement for Caron, and a statement for the Bruins.
Boston hadn’t beaten Detroit in the last four meetings. Those, though, were with Detroit in the Western Conference. With the Red Wings moving east and into the Atlantic Division, the games become ever more important as they figure to be battling for the division crown.
Detroit was playing its third game in four nights and had an overtime game in Carolina Friday night. But, still, the Bruins were by far the better team.
“They won in every statistic tonight,” Detroit goalie Jimmy Howard said. “Every battle. I’m not going to make the excuse that we’re tired or anything like that, because I think that’s pathetic. We need a better effort than this.”
That included the Detroit penalty kill, which gave up two goals in four chances to the Bruins’ new-look power play.
Michigan native Torey Krug scored the first man-advantage goal of the night, 9:11 into the first period, ripping one from the high slot past the screened Howard as Zdeno Chara blocked his sightlines. Chara sealed the win, also on the power play, deking past Howard to cap the scoring for the Bruins at 12:17 of the third.
“The other night we just couldn’t get in,” Julien said of the power play. “Tonight we seemed a little bit better, a little sharper, and the shots were getting through.”
The winner was scored by Brad Marchand in the second, after Henrik Zetterberg got the only goal for the Red Wings near the end of the first. Marchand carried the puck down the right side of the ice before sending it past Howard for the score.
That was a good sign for a player who hadn’t played up to his usual standard through training camp and the first game of the season.
But Marchand’s game should be fine. The question marks were never with him, or with the second line, even though it started a bit more slow.
Part of that is because of Caron and the third line, which has accelerated its breaking-in period. Caron, as Julien put it, “has just gone out there and played his game.”
“When I talked to him before we started the regular season, it was about what more can you bring besides being reliable,” Julien said. “You’ve got to start taking pucks in, you’ve got to try and create some stuff down low, and he has. He’s responded well.”