TAMPA — There had been some disappointment among the Bruins after their win over Florida on Thursday. Sure, they got 2 points over a division rival, but they also showed complacency, letting the Panthers back into a game that could have been salted away early.
So coach Claude Julien talked to his team about it, asked for a full effort, a 60-minute effort. And against the Lightning, a hot team with a hot goaltender, the Bruins delivered.
They started quickly, scoring just 92 seconds into the game, and didn’t stop, finishing with five goals in a 5-0 win Saturday night over the Lightning that pushed the Bruins to 4-1 against the Atlantic Division.
“Much better,” Julien said. “We had a good start, obviously, but we scored the goals the way we wanted to score them.
“Offensively it was nice to see us score some goals, but I thought the pace and the tempo of our game was good tonight, too. We were moving the puck quickly and we were skating from start to finish. I’m a lot more happy with this game than I was with the last one.”
That was in marked contrast to Lightning coach Jon Cooper, who said, “The only thing good about tonight was the national anthem. After that, it [stunk].”
Of the five goals by the Bruins, one came from each line — David Krejci, Patrice Bergeron, Chris Kelly, Shawn Thornton — and one from a defenseman, Adam McQuaid, who returned from a game in the press box.
“Everyone showed up from the drop of the puck tonight, and it obviously shows on the results,” Bergeron said. “I thought in Florida we had a good first period, we scored two goals, but we got back on our heels a bit and they came back in the game.
“I think tonight we kept pushing and we got the result.”
With 4:13 left in the second period, the Bruins knocked starting goaltender Ben Bishop out of the game. Bishop had been a major reason the Lightning were playing so well, coming into the game with a 1.57 goals-against average, having not allowed more than two goals in any of his five starts, all wins.
But after allowing four to the Bruins on 17 shots, Bishop was pulled in favor of Anders Lindback, who gave up one of his own, to Thornton, who flicked a shot in off the crossbar 34 seconds into the third period.
The goals on Bishop started with Milan Lucic coming up the left side and dishing across the crease to Krejci at 1:32 of the first period. Then came the onslaught in the second, with McQuaid scoring an unassisted goal from the point at 4:37, Bergeron taking advantage of a Reilly Smith pass at 14:52, and Brad Marchand doing some nifty work on Kelly’s third of the season at 15:47. Those last two came 55 seconds apart — and were the final straw for Bishop.
The full-game effort was all the more impressive against Tampa Bay, a team with weapons in the form of Steven Stamkos and Martin St. Louis, each of whom came into Saturday night’s game with 10 points.
“I thought we did a good job back-checking and pressure,” Julien said. “We had numbers come back, our D’s again, I thought they played well and defended well. Our guys just overall as a team did a good job, and Tuukka [Rask] made some big saves at the right time.”
But the offense was what made the headlines, as the Bruins put up their highest goal total of the season.
And after weeks of waiting for the chemistry to solidify on the top two lines, it seems it finally has. Both lines generated significant chances, with Bergeron leading all players with six shots in a particularly active game for the center.
“I really liked his game tonight,” Julien said. “You looked at him with his linemates now, they’re finding each other a little bit more and spending some time in the offensive zone and controlling the puck more than they have. So that’s the chemistry that we were hoping to see as we’ve played more games.”
And it wasn’t just Bergeron’s line. It was everyone.
“We had a lead and we didn’t sit back,” said Krejci, who scored his first of the season. “We built on it, we kept putting the puck in the net. That was the key, all four lines did a pretty good job. Just a great 60 minutes of effort by everybody.”
Of course, Krejci was also ready to forget about the victory immediately. As he noted, the Bruins have their first back-to-back games this week, starting on Wednesday. But until then, they can be pleased with their ability to channel the message from Julien.
“We talked about that after the last game,” Julien said. “I didn’t feel that we were committed, going to the net hard, those kind of things. Even defensively, little lapses. I thought our commitment was much better. When the commitment’s there, you see what kind of team we can be.”