The Bruins had just seen their one-goal lead erased 5:04 into the third period against an Ottawa club riding a six-game winning streak. The Bruins, meanwhile, were desperately trying to stop a three-game slide of their own, and what had been a promising effort through 40 minutes was threatening to slip away.
Enter Johnny Boychuk, who had failed to score a goal in the club's first 10 games. Actually, the entire defense corps for the Bruins has had trouble finding the net this season, with Zdeno Chara's lone goal the only tally by a blueliner all year.
That was until 6:41 into the third period Tuesday night, when Boychuk ended his drought and put Boston back ahead for good with a blast from the right point.
"It was obviously a huge goal for us," Bruins center Patrice Bergeron said. "That's exactly what we needed to respond right away, almost right after. It showed that tonight everyone was on the same page and it paid off."
Boychuk took a pass from Chris Kelly and launched one of his patented bombs toward the net as Kelly quickly scrambled out of its path.
"I don't want to get hit by that shot," Kelly said. "That's a pretty heavy shot. That was a big goal for us too."
While Kelly headed for cover, linemates Rich Peverley and Jordan Caron helped create traffic in front and Boychuk's bullet found its way through the legs and past Ottawa netminder Craig Anderson for what proved the game-winner in Boston's key 5-3 victory.
"I was just thinking, 'Hit the net' because I kept missing the net before that on the previous couple shots I had," Boychuk said.
This time Boychuk's aim was true, and he was on the board in just the 11th game of the season, which already puts him well ahead of last year when his first goal didn't come until his 36th game on Jan. 18.
"It feels a lot better getting that first one," Boychuk said. "Now you don't have to worry about it. I think last year it took me until January, so a little bit better."
Even without scoring, Boychuk has been contributing. He was paired once again with Chara on Tuesday, and just as they shut down NHL leading scorer Phil Kessel in their last win over Toronto, that pair also kept Ottawa's top threats off the board. Jason Spezza came into the game tied for second in the league with 15 points in his first 12 games and Milan Michalek had 13 points, but both were held without a point and were each minus-2 on the night thanks to a heavy dose of Boychuk and Chara.
"I think Johnny's been one of our best defensemen so far since the beginning of the year," Bruins coach Claude Julien said. "[He's] consistent. He hasn't had the highs and lows that maybe some others have, but he's been pretty good for us. I know he's a player that, to my eyes anyways, is still growing every year although he's in his third year with us. He's a guy that just keeps going and going. I like his discipline and his way of playing. He plays guys hard, but at the same time, he as enough confidence to move the puck well. The goal he scored was a typical Johnny Boychuk shot that you'd like to see even more of."