BOSTON — As Tuukka Rask watched Seth Griffith score his first NHL goal from the other end of the TD Garden ice, one thought went through the goalie’s mind: What took him so long?
“Well, he plays on the first line,” Rask said with a smile Tuesday night. “So it’s about time he scores, right?”
Yes, that was an obvious joke from the goaltender. Rask was one of many Bruins players to compliment Griffith after the rookie’s goal helped spur the Boston Bruins to a 5-3 win over the San Jose Sharks.
“When you get that first one, the confidence starts coming and you can start feeling a little bit more loose,” fellow first-liner Milan Lucic added. “When you’re in those positions, they seem to go in once you get that first one.”
Griffith’s time with Lucic and David Krejci on the Bruins’ top line produced a number of scoring chances but resulted in zero points through the 21-year-old’s first three games with the big club. That was especially true Thursday, when the rookie rang a post during the Bruins’ loss to the Canadiens in Montreal.
Veteran Simon Gagne replaced Griffith on the first line in the third period of that loss, and Griffith was shipped back down to the Bruins’ AHL affiliate in Providence three days later.
“It was one of those things where you’ve just got to kind of forget about it and move on and keep working hard,” Griffith said Tuesday. “I knew I’d get another chance to get a shot off.”
He got that chance against San Jose.
With the Bruins trailing 3-2 early in the third period, defenseman Torey Krug fired a shot into traffic in front of Sharks goalie Antti Niemi. Lucic slid the loose puck back between his legs, and Griffith fired it past Niemi before launching into an exuberant celebration.
Gregory Campbell potted the eventual game-winning goal six minutes later, and Krejci added an empty-netter, giving the Bruins two straight wins for the first time this season.
“He’s been on the verge,” Campbell said of Griffith. “He’s had a few good looks. He’s not afraid to shoot and he has a lot of confidence for a young kid, so we’re all happy to see him score a goal, and not only a goal but an important goal.”
The puck from that important goal sat on a bench behind Griffith as he spoke to reporters after the game. Lucic had done the honors of scooping it up off the ice.
“He’s a great guy, so it doesn’t surprise me that he’s the one to pick it up,” Griffith said. “He did all the work in front, (though,) so maybe I should have picked it up.”
If the first line continues to click the way it did Tuesday, he should have plenty more chances.
Photo via Winslow Townson/USA TODAY Sports Images
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