Jarome Iginla was the only player in the shootout to score, beating goalie Jonas Hiller high glove side. (Photo credit: AP Photo)
After one period, the Boston Bruins (8-4-0) looked like their pregame meal was a pillow case full of candy. Boston’s play in the first was anything but sweet however, as the entire team was sluggish and it showed in the way they forechecked, backchecked, and in their decision making. It did not take long for the Anaheim Ducks (10-3-1) to exploit the Bruins poor play.
An ill-advised pass from Bruins forward Carl Soderberg was picked off by Ducks winger Dustin Penner in the Bruins zone less than two minutes into the game. Two passes and a one-timer from 21-year-old Devante Smith-Pelly past goalie Tuukka Rask gave Anaheim the early 1-0 lead.
The rest of the period was not much better for the B’s, managing only one shot on net and clearly being the inferior team on the ice. Boston was able to keep the deficit at one however, keeping them in the game.
During the first intermission, the team must have had coffee delivered to the locker room because they came out in the second with a much better skating game. The Bruins had changed costumes; the first period Mr. Hyde Bruins had been replaced by the Dr. Jekyll Bruins and their play improved drastically. The team was suddenly making crisper passes, wreaking havoc on the Anaheim breakout and putting pressure on the Ducks netminder, Jonas Hiller.
The newly rejuvenated Bruins were able to finally get on the board a little more than halfway through the second. The play started with a puck battle win along the board in their own zone by Zdeno Chara. Then, in his first game of the season, center Ryan Spooner skated the puck up to the Bruins blue-line and made a very good stretch pass to Chris Kelly. Kelly then made a one touch pass to Soderberg, freeing the winger for a one on one chance against Hiller. Soderberg, who made the errant pass that led to Anaheim’s first goal, redeemed himself by cashing in on his opportunity and scored to tie the game up, 1-1.
Spooner was one of the most impressive players in Bruins camp this preseason, but because of the depth at the center position for Boston, he was sent to Providence to start the year. The team’s struggles to get scoring from any line other than the first prompted coach Claude Julien to make a move and Spooner rewarded the coach by starting the breakout on the Soderberg goal.
“They were playing a bit of a trap, they were closing off the middle of the ice,” Spooner explained after the game. “When I got the puck, I didn’t really have much, I was trying to get it out. I guess I got kinda lucky with that play.”
Whether it was luck or not, Spooner has proven he can make plays for the team and deservers to stay with the team, at least until Loui Eriksson (concussion) can return to the team.
After the Bruins dominated for most of the second, it looked as though the teams would head to the third period at 1-1. An unlucky bounce on a defensive zone faceoff however, led to a quick turnaround wrist shot by Mathew Perreault that surprised Rask and put the Ducks ahead 2-1 at 19:39 of the second.
The Bruins continued their strong play in the third, but it took a great pad save by Rask early in the period to keep the B’s within one.
The normally solid defenseman, Dennis Seidenberg, momentarily changed back into Mr. Hyde when he blindly tried passing the puck to his defense partner. The pass was picked off by Perreault, who netted the Ducks second goal, and left him with only Rask to beat. The Bruins goalie bailed his teammate out, making the save, keeping it a 2-1 game.
The two teams went back and forth for the rest of the period with Boston getting slightly better of the play. Then, at 17:02 of the period, the Ducks looked to turn the front porch light out on the Bruins Halloween by forcing Boston to go on the power-play.
Now as a reader if you are saying to yourself, “what is he talking about? Going on the power-play is a good thing.” In any other case you would be right, but when it comes to the Bruins, a team that struggles on the power-play more than the NBC Sports announcers do at pronouncing Milan Lucic’s (Loo-Cheech, not Loo-Chick) name, going on the man advantage is usually a bad thing.
To my surprise, and probably anyone that has seen the Bruins power-play, the Bruins scored, and did so quickly.
A Torey Krug wrist shot from the blue line rebounded off of Hiller’s pad and trickled to the stick of David Krejci. Krejci proceeded to make a cross-crease pass to Chara who scored, only eight seconds into the man advantage.
“We made a really simple play, just won the faceoff, shot on net, deflection, and David made a really nice play to me back door and just put it in the open net,” Chara said after the game.
Boston managed to tie the game and send it into overtime where neither team scored, despite Boston outshooting Anaheim 4-0 in the overtime period.
The Bruins team had one last treat for the filled TD Garden, as Jarome Iginla was the only successful skater in the shootout. The horror movie that was the first period for the Bruins turned into a thriller, with Boston getting the win.