It’s unrealistic to think that Jarome Iginla and Loui Eriksson have totally found a comfort level in Boston already. If Saturday is any indication, however, those new B’s are on their way to fitting in quite nicely with the rest of the defending Eastern Conference champions.
Both players were held off the scoresheet through the first three games, but they made sizable impacts in the Bruins’ 3-1 win over the Columbus Blue Jackets on Saturday afternoon. Iginla and Eriksson both registered their first points as members of the Black and Gold as part of the winning effort.
Iginla and Eriksson were probably the best Bruins on the ice in a game that started pretty lethargically for Boston. The B’s faced a 1-0 deficit after the first period and they looked up against it late in the second period when Chris Kelly went to the penalty box for a hooking penalty against Boone Jenner.
With Kelly in the box, Iginla saw some penalty-kill time. Late in the kill, Iginla broke his stick and was left in a compromising position in an attempt to kill off the man advantage. The veteran forward did all he could to break up the play in the Boston zone and helped the B’s eventually clear the zone. Once they did, Iginla went straight to the bench and got a new stick. He finished the shift by picking the puck near the Boston blue line and carrying it up ice. He then found Kelly coming out of the box with a back-diagonal pass. Iginla went to the wing to create space and Kelly beat Sergei Bobrovsky with a slap shot to tie the game late in the second period.
“That’s a smart player and an experienced player, a guy who’s been around for a while so he knew what he needed to do,” B’s head coach Claude Julien said after the game. “He was in the right place at the right time. He made a great play to get that puck out and finally come to the bench. Those are important kills; you give them a goal there, it’s a different game.”
Eriksson also got in on the fun when he scored what would be the eventual game-winner in the third period. The veteran forward, who has struggled at times to find chemistry alongside Brad Marchand and Patrice Bergeron, finally cashed in Saturday. He took a gorgeous pass from Bergeron that came from across the slot and backhanded a shot by Bobrovsky. It wasn’t necessarily the prettiest goal — it’s one the Columbus goalie should have stopped, probably — but there’s no telling what that could do in terms of confidence for Eriksson.
“It was nice to get that one and we took the lead, too, so it was definitely nice to see that go in,” Eriksson said.
The process wasn’t necessarily made easier Saturday when Eriksson found himself with a new linemate, albeit a familiar face. Reilly Smith was skating with Bergeron and Eriksson in the third period, and Eriksson’s fellow former Stars teammate picked up an assist on the Eriksson goal. Still, Eriksson says the assimilation process is progressing, as evidenced by the game-winning tally.
“I think we’re getting there,” he said. “I thought we had some really good chances there today. We’re trying to build on the good things we’re doing out there so it was good to be able to score one.”
On a day the Bruins were in Nathan Horton‘s new town and a night after Tyler Seguin put up four points for Dallas, both Iginla and Eriksson reminded everyone that they should be just fine as well.