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So far, so good for Bruins
Boston Bruins goaltender Tuukka Rask, left, is congratulated by teammate Patrice Bergeron, right, at the conclusion of their overtime shootout in their NHL hockey game against the Winnipeg Jets at TD Garden in Boston Monday. (REUTERS/Jessica Rinaldi)
But starting a lockout-shortened 48-game season with a pair of victories is an entirely different animal.
"It's important. We talked about that," Patrice Bergeron said after his shootout goal helped the Bruins edge the Winnipeg Jets, 2-1, on Monday to move to 2-0. "Consistency is going to be important, so now we have to, I guess, move forward and make sure we keep the same pace."
Tuukka Rask, taking over the No. 1 goaltending spot with Tim Thomas deciding not to play out the final year of his contract, has yielded two goals in the two wins. He stopped 26 of 27 shots in the game and then yielded only one goal on three shots in the shootout. Bryan Little's attempt to continue the game hit the post to Rask's left.
Boston's Tyler Seguin and Bergeron beat Ondrej Pavelec, who played a strong game, in the shootout while former Bruin Blake Wheeler opened the competition with a goal for Winnipeg.
Winnipeg's Chris Thorburn and Boston's Brad Marchand traded first-period goals, as the Jets picked up their first point of the season while falling to 0-1-1.
"I mentioned that to the players just before the third period (with the game tied 1-1) that these next 20 minutes are probably just as important as the last 20 we'll play in this regular season schedule, so we had to do whatever we could to come out with two points," said Bruins coach Claude Julien. "I think we realize how important a good start and a quick start is for every hockey club and we need to continue to think that way."
Rask, who had a rather easy night in the 3-1 opening win over the New York Rangers, didn't have to work too much harder in this one. He did stop a first-period Kyle Wellwood breakaway, after the Jets had taken an early 1-0 lead on a goal by Thorburn.
The Bruins played a strong defensive game against the Rangers and turned in another solid effort Monday, this time with the always-dependable Dennis Seidenberg out (and day-to-day) with a lower body injury. Nineteen-year-old Dougie Hamilton, who played with Seidenberg in the opener, was with Zdeno Chara in Game 2 and didn't look out of place. Monday, the Bruins also introduced veteran journeyman Aaron Johnson into the mix and he, too, was fine.
Up front, there have only been four goals in two games, but there were plenty of chances Monday, with Boston hitting some posts. Right wing Nathan Horton, who played his first game in a year Saturday night after going down with a second concussion last season, didn't have a true shot on goal but had chances and continues to show his rust is disappearing.
The Bruins had a chance to take the lead on the power play in the third period when Evander Kane went off for goaltender interference at 12:31. Early in the power play, Rich Peverley blasted a shot that beat Pavelec and hit the post.
Winnipeg then had two power plays, one near the end of regulation and into the OT and then again for the final 1:28 of play, after a holding call on Chara. The defense kept the puck away from Rask then, too.
The Jets took a 1-0 lead just 1:58 into the game when rookie defenseman Paul Postma shot from the right point and Thornburn put home the rebound. It was Postma's first NHL point in his sixth game in the league.
After Rask robbed Wellwood, Winnipeg captain Andrew Ladd lost the puck at the blue line to Seguin, who carried down the right side before sliding the puck out to Marchand for a re-direction and a tie game at 14:12 of the period.
After the Jets wasted a pair of power-play chances, the Bruins had all kinds of chances in the second period, with their top two lines dealing out most of the chances. But Pavelec, with a little help from his goal post, kept the puck out and left the teams tied, 1-1, after two.
NOTES: A moment of silence was observed before the game to honor Martin Luther King Jr. ... Julien needs one win to tie Don Cherry for third place on the Bruins' all-time coaching wins list.
After the game, he said he spent Sunday watching the NFL games and, reminded there were "Let's Go Bruins" chants as the Patriots went down in Foxborough, Mass., noted he's happy that his team has returned to the main landscape of Boston sports. ... Johnson returned from a conditioning assignment and debuted, while David Warsofsky was sent to Providence. ... Bruins defenseman Johnny Boychuk played in his 200th NHL game. ... The Winnipeg Free Press reported the Jets, who should be in the Western Conference but are stuck in the East for the second straight season, will far out-fly any conference foes this season. Converting kilometers to miles, the Jets will fly 27,383 miles in the shortened season. Florida is second at 25,183, while Tampa Bay is third at 20,546. ... Did this area miss the Bruins? Saturday night's opener set a regular-season ratings record for the Bruins on their local NESN channel. ... Olympic Gold Medal gymnast Aly Raisman, who hails from nearby Needham, Mass., dropped the ceremonial first puck and visited outside the locker room after the game. ... The Bruins are at the Rangers for a return match Wednesday night.