Bruins’ Dominant Week Catapults B’s Into Eastern Conference’s Top Spot

Reilly Smith, Torey KrugThe Boston Bruins were on a mission Sunday night in Florida, and they certainly took care of business. Because of that, they’re now the Eastern Conference’s top team.

The Bruins wrapped up a stretch of six games in nine days on Sunday with a rather dominant 5-2 win over the Florida Panthers. In the process, the Bruins pushed what’s not a season-high winning streak to five games while also leap-frogging the Pittsburgh Penguins for the top spot in the Eastern Conference.

That stay atop the East may only last for a day — the Pittsburgh Penguins are a point back and play Monday — but it’s still a noteworthy accomplishment for the Bruins. Boston ended up winning five of those six games in nine days, which includes the five-game win streak that began a week ago with a win over the Rangers.

“It’s fun going as a team and winning,” Bruins winger Jarome Iginla told reporters. “Tonight, our goal was to be on top of the conference at the end of the day. It was a really good win for us especially with the short turnaround and I thought we all played well.”

The Bruins were certainly dealing with some adversity as well. Boston was looking at a late-afternoon puck drop one day after playing in Tampa Bay on Saturday night. That meant the game with the Panthers would start less than 24 hours after Saturday’s game with the Lightning started. That task was made even taller in the opening moments of the first period when winger Daniel Paille was hit by Florida defenseman Ed Jovanovski. The hit sent Paille to the dressing room with his night over, making an already tired Bruins team shorthanded for two periods.

“It’s all about experience and having been through it before,” Bruins coach Claude Julien told NESN’s Jamie Erdahl following the game. “Today was maybe an easier game to get up for because it meant an opportunity to take over the conference. So the guys were pretty up for it. I was pretty impressed with just the pace of our game having played less than two games in 24 hours. I thought the guys responded well to that, too.”

Now the Bruins get a well-earned two-day break before taking on the Montreal Canadiens on Wednesday. The Bruins’ 17-game March slate is a big test, and it’s one the B’s are passing with flying colors so far. Their five-game winning streak has seen them outscore opponents 22-9 starting with a 6-3 win over the Rangers on March 2. Balanced scoring continues to be a key factor with the Bruins getting goals from three different lines on Sunday and a pair from the defense corps as well. Defensively, the Bruins have been very sound as well, as they’ve limited scoring chances, as evidenced by their 20-9 advantage in scoring chances against Florida. Even the Bruins’ special teams are finding their marks with the penalty kill having killed 11 of 12 penalties in the five-game winning streak and with the power play scoring twice on Sunday.

The Bruins have found their game, and it’s happened at the right time in their season. And while their stay on top of the Eastern Conference mountain may be a short one, the B’s have made it clear that they’re a serious contender for that No. 1 spot.

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