For years, the Bruins won despite a power play that was hardly an advantage.
But as this season has gone along, the Bruins have climbed higher up the power-play rankings, getting closer to the top of the league. In fact, they began Friday ranked fifth, scoring on 22 percent of their chances.
They converted again against the Senators. They went 3 for 3 on the power play in Monday’s victory over Nashville, and now the unit has five goals in its last three games. For the season, they are 23 for 102 (22.5 percent).
Jarome Iginla got the tally Friday night, the first goal of a game the Bruins went on to win, 5-0, at TD Garden in the first game of a back-to-back with the Senators. The Bruins scored four goals in the third period to break it open.
The Bruins are 13-0-2 in their last 15 games at home and have won eight straight.
After Torey Krug fired a shot on net, the puck bounced off Milan Lucic to Iginla, who notched his second power-play goal in as many games. Iginla has six goals and nine points in his last nine games.
“When he gets hot, he gets hot. He’s scored 540 goals and it’s not by accident,” said Lucic of the likely future Hall of Famer who scored his 541st Friday. “His shot is something that you have to respect [on the power play]. For us it gives us that extra option and extra look and I think, for our unit, it’s been a big part of our success.”
And it’s something that wasn’t exactly coming through at the beginning of the season, when the Bruins started slowly on the power play. But in the last month, things have changed. Iginla is converting. The team is converting. The power play now needs to be respected, not derided.
“He has that element, that he’s got a good one-timer if you give it to him,” coach Claude Julien said. “But I thought he was getting chances earlier on. He was just a little snakebit. Now they’re going in for him, just like we knew it would.”
Not that it’s only Iginla. For the Bruins it’s a host of new faces, including Krug, Reilly Smith, and Carl Soderberg who have helped push the power play to respectability.
“It seems like with Krug and Iggy and even [David Krejci], it seems like that hesitation to shoot isn’t there,” Lucic said. “I think there’s a lot more confidence in our puck movement, and also getting quality shots and getting pucks through and not getting them blocked, also pouncing on second and third opportunities. That’s what’s giving us success.
“You can’t get comfortable with it. You have to stay on top of it to make sure that it remains at a high level.”
The Bruins didn’t look that good early, though, being outshot, 15-5, in the first period. Tuukka Rask stood tall, and the Bruins went into the break tied, 0-0. The Bruins took control in the third with two goals by Smith, one by Krejci, and a shorthanded goal by Brad Marchand with 27 seconds to go. The only negative in the final period was defenseman Dennis Seidenberg’s departure with a leg injury.
For the Senators, those final 40 minutes were, as Ottawa captain Jason Spezza said, a “disappointing effort.”
But not for the Bruins.
“I think we did a great job bouncing back,” Smith said. “Tuukka, he’s going to stand on his head for us. Thing is, sometimes we expect that too much. He did a great job tonight and he kept us in it the first period, no doubt.
“Our team did a good job of bouncing back in the second and third. We were able to create a lot more scoring chances, kind of turn the game around.”
Much of that was due to Smith. The second-line winger worked with an active line — Marchand had multiple excellent chances early and late — and generated eight chances, scoring on two of them. The goals for Smith, the third and fourth of the game, put it out of reach.
Smith also took sole possession for the team lead in goals. He has 14, with five coming in his last three games. It’s not a position he thought he’d be in after being traded from Dallas over the summer.
“My first thing coming to this team was just to make the team,” Smith said. “Everything’s going pretty well right now. The thing is not to be happy with where you are, just to keep on pushing. If you’re on a hot streak, it can turn cold really quick.”
So far, Smith shows no signs of getting cold. Neither do the Bruins, who have lately shown an ability to put teams away, something that hasn’t always been there this season.
“The third [period] hasn’t always been our strong part, and lately it’s become that,” Rask said. “You know we really put teams away, and that’s something you have to do.”