Even more than that, they just needed to get off to a decent start.
In each of their last seven games, the Bruins had fallen behind in the opening period. In their four-game losing streak, they were outscored 10-1 in the first period. Washington, Pittsburgh and Tampa Bay had all struck for multiple goals in the first 10 minutes, all but ending any hopes for the Bruins before some fans had even gotten to their seats.
The Bruins were determined not to let that happen again on Saturday, and their efforts were rewarded when Chris Kelly finally gave Boston an early lead with a goal 6:23 into play. Tyler Seguin added another at 17:07 of the first, and for once it was the Bruins playing with the lead.
"It was very big," Bruins defenseman Dennis Seidenberg said. "You don't want to fall behind two minutes into the game. You start playing out of your element. You don't play to your strengths. Our game is playing with a lead and playing solid defensively. That's what we did tonight and we ended up on the lucky side."
The luck came in after the Flyers rallied to tie the game and the Bruins needed a shootout to take the 3-2 victory. But for a team that hasn’t had much good fortune, or earned many breaks with their inconsistent efforts of late, the Bruins will gladly take any win they can get.
"I think that’s sometimes how things go when you're in so-called slumps," Bruins center Gregory Campbell said. "It’s not usually an 8-0 game that gets you out of it. It's usually a hard-working game, and I thought we deserved to win today. And that’s what we needed. We needed a game that we deserved to win, whether it was close or not. I think that kind of game gives us even more confidence that we can hold on to a lead, or if we have to win in overtime, we can do that."
Campbell helped set the tone by dropping the gloves with Flyers agitator Zac Rinaldo just 1:55 into the game. Shawn Thornton, who leads the NHL with 19 fighting majors, is usually the one try to get things going in that manner, but it may have helped even more to have someone like Campbell step up and issue the challenge.
"There's interchanging roles on this team and everybody has to play different parts," Campbell said. "And sometimes that’s what's needed, a spark, a little bit of energy to throw at the team, and I think this was a big game for our team. It provided energy, and I'm just trying to help out anyway I can, and that situation, I think it was good in front of a home crowd, just to spark a little life into the team."
The Bruins maintained that spark despite Philadelphia's rally. With everything that's gone wrong in recent weeks, it would have been easy for the Bruins to let things snowball once again once the Flyers scored on a pair of deflections in front, but Boston was determined not to let this game get away.
"We thought we played a good game, and suddenly it's a tied game," Seidenberg said. "It would be easy for us to second-guess ourselves and just pack it in, but we know what happened the last few games and we know we had to break out of this funk and we just kept going and managed to win."
"I think we kept it together pretty well," Seidenberg added. "We didn’t get frustrated. We kept going. We stayed mentally strong, and that’s a good thing."
Now the key will be carrying that effort into Monday's game against Toronto and maintaining it the rest of the season.
"Well, we did it a few times the last few weeks," Seidenberg said. "We had a good game and we fell right back into our bad habits. We have to build on this and don't get too high on this win and just keep building on what we did well tonight."
The Bruins haven’t left themselves any margin for error with their struggles of late. They’re now in a fight right down to the wire with Ottawa for the Northeast Division title and home ice to start the playoffs.
"It hasn’t been easy all year, but we gained a lot of experience and confidence from last year with the things that we went through," Campbell said. "We're just going to have to do it the hard way again."
Campbell doesn’t see that as all bad though, as it could just put the Bruins in prime playoff form by the time the postseason arrives.
"Every game is big for us now," Campbell said. "We've got ourselves in a situation where we're battling for position with Ottawa now and with a couple of different teams. We want that home-ice advantage, and with 11 games left, we're unfortunately in the situation where every game is important. But I think you can look at that as a positive too because we have to be at our best now. And going into the playoffs, that's something that's going to benefit our team."
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