The Boston Bruins have made a point to say that attention to detail and keeping things simple would help them get out of the funk they’re in right now. That was certainly the case Thursday night.
The Bruins got back to their winning ways with a 4-2 win over the Dallas Stars at American Airlines Center. The win not only helps the B’s bounce back after a loss to Toronto on Tuesday, but the victory also featured several things aside from the score that the Bruins can be really pleased about.
The biggest reason the Bruins will be happy campers Thursday into Friday is that they got an important two points. It wasn’t an incredibly impressive start — just six first-period shots on goal — but the Bruins eventually settled in and played a good road game. They took advantage of most of the chances they were given. They played from ahead and made special teams a weapon again. They did all of the things they haven’t been doing as of late.
“[The effort] was good,” Bruins coach Claude Julien told NESN’s Jamie Erdahl after the win. “That was one thing we talked about — that we needed a better compete level and to be a better team. I think in all areas tonight, we were better.”
The area in which Boston showed the most improvement had to be the special teams game. The Bruins’ penalty kill entered Thursday night’s game in a tailspin, going just 17-for-27 in the seven previous games. Technically, the Bruins weren’t perfect Thursday against the Stars’ power play, but they were really, really close. One fluky goal off the stick of Erik Cole was all that kept the Bruins (5-for-6) from a perfect PK performance.
The penalty-killing unit got back to making entry in the attacking zone difficult. The Bruins’ penalty killers did a much better job standing up Stars players as they attempted to enter the zone. When Dallas did gain the offensive zone, the B’s did a good job of clearing any potential second-chance opportunities from danger. The Bruins almost generated offense when down a man, as they were able to put five shorthanded shots on net to go along with a handful of odd-man rushes on the kill.
The Boston power play also broke through for the first time in 2014. Milan Lucic was able to get to the front of the net late in the third period and scored what was the eventual game-winning goal when he deflected David Krejci‘s shot by Dallas goalie Kari Lehtonen. That tally from Lucic marked the Bruins’ first power-play score since Dec. 31, ending an 0-for-18 drought.
Lucic and Krejci both scored against Dallas, another important step in the right direction. Krejci, Lucic and fellow first-liner Jarome Iginla have gone cold lately. Lucic’s goal against the Stars was his first since Dec. 21. Unsurprisingly, that line’s cold streak has coincided with the team’s recent slump. However, the Boston top line looked much better against Dallas than it did Tuesday against the Leafs, and that was validated with the pair of goals. After a first period in which that line combined for just one shot attempt, the top line will look to build off the two goals when the Bruins go into Chicago on Sunday afternoon.
The Bruins certainly aren’t back to where they want or need to be just yet, but Thursday’s win is a step in the right direction. The next step will be to show they can string together multiple impressive showings, and they certainly will be tested in the next few days. The B’s will have that Stanley Cup Final rematch on Sunday in Chicago before returning home the next day for a late afternoon tilt with the Los Angeles Kings.
For now, however, the Bruins are probably more than happy to feel good about themselves for a night or two, especially with the way things have gone lately.