The Boston Bruins scored three goals for just the third time in the last 11 games in a 3-2 road win over the Minnesota Wild on Wednesday night.
The Brad Marchand-Patrice Bergeron-Reilly Smith line had been Boston’s only consistent trio entering Wednesday, with a combined 18 points (seven goals, 11 assists) in the last seven games. Bergeron continued his line’s recent scoring success with his first goal in 12 games, although it was one that Wild goaltender Niklas Backstrom should have saved.
[tweet https://twitter.com/ChadGraff/status/545427403905175553 align=”center”]
The Bruins needed other forwards to step up and compliment the Bergeron line. Carl Soderberg and Loui Eriksson rose to the challenge, with each of them scoring a goal and adding an assist. In fact, Eriksson assisted Soderberg’s first-period goal that opened the scoring, and Soderberg picked up the primary assist on Eriksson’s game-winning tally in overtime.
Soderberg’s goal ended a 15-game goalless drought. He also won 58 percent of his faceoffs, which is an area of his game that he’s improved over the last month.
First-line center David Krejci’s arrival to the lineup after a 19-game absence should give Soderberg more favorable matchups against bottom-six forwards and third pairings. The Swedish center scored 16 goals with 32 assists in his first NHL campaign in 2013-14, and most of his ice time was against third-line opponents.
Eriksson also will benefit from Soderberg’s improved play. The veteran right winger has scored three goals with one assist in the last five games. He still needs to shoot the puck more, evidenced by his one shot on goal in five of the last eight games. Eriksson didn’t take advantage of a fantastic scoring opportunity during a late third-period power play and passed the puck to a Wild penalty killer, who cleared the zone.
Eriksson redeemed himself in overtime by going hard to the net and capitalizing on a nice pass from Soderberg.
The Bruins finished third in goals scored last season because they had a balanced offensive attack. Nine players had 40-plus points and eight scored 16 or more goals. Soderberg and Eriksson must provide more consistent scoring production for Boston to reach similar levels of balance this season. Wednesday’s performance was a good start.
— Fans who’ve watch Eriksson throughout his career know that scoring in overtime is nothing new for him.
[tweet https://twitter.com/PR_NHL/status/545432631568261120 align=”center”]
— Krejci played 18:22 in his return. He tallied one shot, three blocked shots and his minus-13 Corsi at even strength was the worst among B’s forwards.
— Soderberg was the only Bruins player on the ice for an even amount of shots attempts for and against. Every other player was a minus Corsi at even strength. Krejci, Milan Lucic and Seth Griffith all were a minus-10 Corsi or worse.
Minnesota had a 56-36 shot attempt advantage at even strength.
— Bergeron has four points (one goal, three assists) in his last five games. He now leads the Bruins in scoring with 22 points (six goals, 16 assists) through 32 games.
— Niklas Svedberg was Boston’s best player. The 25-year-old backup goaltender stopped 35 of 37 shots against to increase his save percentage to .925 on the season.
[tweet https://twitter.com/PR_NHL/status/545446376893870080 align=”center”]
— The Bruins killed a 5-on-3 Wild power play for 1:13 in the second period. They also successfully defended over one minute of a 5-on-3 power play against the Chicago Blackhawks last Thursday. Wednesday’s game was just the second in the last six in which Boston didn’t allow a power-play goal.
— The Bruins power play had two opportunities to score but couldn’t convert. Boston is 1-for-15 with the man advantage in December and 1-for-26 since Nov. 15.
Thumbnail photo via Brace Hemmelgarn/USA TODAY Sports Images