Having already killed one penalty at the end of regulation and into overtime, Boston was tasked with going a man down yet again, this time for the duration of the OT period. Bruins captain Zdeno Chara was tagged with a highly questionable holding call, adding frustration to an afternoon that looked destined to be lost.
However, the Bruins’ penalty killing unit saved its best for last, ensuring the Jets couldn’t score in the overtime period, setting up a Bruins win in the shootout, enabling them to start the season with two consecutive wins.
This is already becoming something of a trend for the B’s. Their win on Saturday night over the Rangers was sparked by the penalty kill as well. Boston was able to kill off a 5-on-3 in the third period of that game against a potentially potent New York power play.
They carried that special teams momentum over to Monday, with the PK once again playing a key role in a big win. They have now killed off all nine power plays they have been forced to defend, and the result has been two wins and four crucial points to open the season.
“That’s what made the difference today,” Bruins coach Claude Julien said. “In overtime, it was a tough call and to kill that to finish the game, our guys did a great job with the two D’s out there and also Bergy [Patrice Bergeron] and Kells [Chris Kelly]. They were breaking up a lot of plays when they got over the blue line and so, again, it’s probably a good reason we’re sitting here with the win.”
There is not enough that could be said about the effort of Kelly and Bergeron, particularly when killing off the Chara penalty. Killing off that penalty normally, with all of the open ice a 4-on-3 brings, is difficult enough, but doing so without Chara is no small feat.
Bergeron and Kelly were all over the ice for that penalty. Whether it was Kelly diving to knock a puck out of his own zone or Bergeron sacrificing his body to block a shot, the two centers provided the backbone of an already stingy penalty kill.
“We’ve had a good penalty kill for a number of years now,” defenseman Andrew Ference said. “Our forwards don’t get as much credit as they deserve either. Whether it’s Kelly or Bergeron up front, especially in those situations, they make our life really easy. I think there’s just that confidence going into those situations where it’s the same personnel a lot of times, or a combination of just a couple. With doing it so many times together, you kind of know where each other is going, and it’s not as nerve-racking as it should be.”
“It’s important that we do the job on the PK, especially in overtime like that,” Bergeron said. “It happened twice and we found a way. Give credit to everyone on the ice and Tukes [Tuukka Rask] who made some great saves for us.”
Rask deserves his share of credit, too. The Finnish netminder picked up his second win in as many games, and while much of that winning effort was on display in the shootout, Boston would have never gotten that far without Rask.
Rask, like Bergeron, was more than willing to share the credit for the success.
“It’s been great,” he said of the PK unit thus far. “Guys came up huge and blocked those shots and made my job a lot easier.
“I try to cover their asses and they try to do the best that they can to make my job easier.”
That’s been the secret to success for the Bruins, at least it has been early on, and there is no better proof of that than a few game-saving penalty kills. And those kills are also the biggest reason the B’s find themselves with two wins in two games.