Coming into Saturday's showdown with the Sabres in Buffalo, the Bruins' blueliners had combined for just eight goals in 36 games this year.
Just three of those had come in the club's first 18 road games. But the new year really was a fresh start for the Boston defense, as the blue line contributed four of the Bruins' goals in a 7-6 shootout loss to the Sabres.
Those goals came from four different defensemen too, marking the first time in franchise history that four different defensemen scored in the same game for the Bruins.
"It's great that the D are chipping in," rookie defenseman Steven Kampfer said. "That was something we talked about before the game was how we wanted to go out there and get a couple points and start the new year off on the right foot. I thought our defense did a good job of chipping in, but it's unfortunate we lost in the shootout there."
Kampfer scored his second career goal at 7:06 of the third as he worked a give-and-go with fellow rookie Tyler Seguin. Kampfer sent a cross-ice pass over to Seguin on the left side, then drove hard to the net to chip in the return pass and give Boston a short-lived 6-5 lead.
Andrew Ference also scored his second goal in seven games after going 99 games without a goal, as he opened the scoring just 1:29 into the first with a one-timer from the blue line. Dennis Seidenberg also scored his second goal of the season 2:49 in, while Zdeno Chara added a shorthanded strike for his first goal in 24 games.
Johnny Boychuk also played a key role in another goal, as Brad Marchand scored with a redirection in front of Boychuk's blast from the point. Chara, however, was the only defenseman given a chance in the shootout, and the only shooter on either team to fail to score as he was unable to extend the competition in the final round with a shot wide after faking a slapper.
The Bruins' defensemen have been more active in joining the rush of late, and it paid off with some offensive production in this game. But this contest also reveals the pitfalls of taking too many chances, as the Bruins gave up six goals in regulation with numerous defensive breakdowns leading to a plethora of odd-man rushes by the Sabres.
The Bruins need to continue to get more offense from the defense, but they also have to find a proper balance to get the benefits of a more offensive-minded blue-line corps without sacrificing their primary role as defenders.