BOSTON — Bruins fans expected their team’s power play to be a real weapon in its second-round Stanley Cup playoff series against the Montreal Canadiens.
After all, the B’s had the third-best power-play team in the regular season with a 21.7 percent success rate, then dominated the Detroit Red Wings in Round 1 with six goals on the man-advantage in five games.
But that power-play success abruptly ended when the Canadiens arrived to TD Garden for Round 2. Boston began the series 0-for-10 with the extra skater, extending its power-play playoff drought against Montreal to 39 straight unsuccessful attempts, dating back to the 2009 Eastern Conference quarterfinals.
The Bruins created some quality scoring chances and successfully entered the attacking zone cleanly to set up their formation in the first four games, but they just weren’t capitalizing on their opportunities. That changed in Saturday night’s Game 5 at TD Garden, where Boston’s power play struck twice in 34 seconds to open up a 3-0 second-period lead.
“I think our power play was due,” Bruins head coach Claude Julien said after his team’s 4-2 Game 5 win. “After the first period, our power play was just average so we had a little chat and talked about bringing the intensity up there on our power play and winning more battles and making stronger plays. And it gave us obviously those two goals, which were huge for us.”
What adjustments did the Bruins make on the power play for better results in Game 5? They got more traffic in front of Canadiens goaltender Carey Price, and made it difficult for him to locate the puck on shots from the point. The puck movement was also better, which prevented the Habs from blocking nearly 30 shots for the second straight game.
“…We were finally able to get our power play going,” Bruins winger Milan Lucic said. “(Carey Price), if he sees it he’s going to stop it. We haven’t made it with too many direct shots, so it was good that guys were able to get tips in front and stuff like that. So we’re going to need guys going to the net continuously, and hopefully we can keep getting results.”
Boston’s first power-play goal was scored by Reilly Smith, who tipped in a Dougie Hamilton pass from the point.
“It was a great goal that (Smith) scored,” Bruins forward Jarome Iginla said. “It wasn’t just the goal but it was again how they moved it around and were able to create and then be able to score at the end of the nice plays, that’s a big boost for a power play”
Thirty-four seconds after Smith ended the power-play drought, Iginla scored his first goal of the series after receiving a beautiful pass from defenseman Torey Krug.
Even though the Bruins are the best 5-on-5 team in the league and don’t need a dominant power play to win a Stanley Cup, having a potent unit that is able to score a crucial goal is a major asset. Boston is 5-0 when it scores a power-play goal in this year’s playoffs.
To their credit, the Bruins stuck with their power play by not making any major personnel changes in Game 5. This trust from the coaching staff was rewarded.