Rapid Reaction: Bruins 3, Predators 2
January, 2, 2014
By Joe McDonald | ESPNBoston.com
BOSTON -- The midway point of the season has arrived and the Boston Bruins have a 27-12-2 record for the top spot in the Atlantic Division.
Brad Marchand scored only 54 seconds into overtime to give Boston a 3-2 victory over the Nashville Predators on Thursday night at TD Garden. The Bruins also received goals from Johnny Boychuk and Jarome Iginla, while goaltender Niklas Svedberg, who made his NHL debut, finished with 33 saves to earn his first victory.
Nashville had a couple of quality scoring chances in the first period, but one shot rang off the crossbar and Svedberg made a save on a point-blank opportunity by Matt Hendricks. Svedberg finished the first period with eight saves and the game remained scoreless after the first 20 minutes.
The majority of the second period remained in a stalemate, before the Predators gained a 1-0 lead at 18:04. The Bruins were caught in a line change when Nashville capitalized in transition. The Predators' Mike Fisher gained control and took a shot from the left faceoff circle and Svedberg made the initial save, but no one was back for the Bruins as Viktor Stalberg notched his fifth goal of the season on an easy wide-open net. There was nothing Svedberg could've done on the play.
The Bruins came out with more desperation to start the third period and created some scoring chances. They were finally rewarded when Boychuk scored his second goal of the season at 4:55. The Bruins' Ryan Spooner gained control of the puck in the defensive end, made a nifty breakout move along the wall, gained speed through the neutral zone and broke into the Nashville zone. He made the pass to Boychuk, who was in the high slot and unleashed a wrist shot that beat Predator goalie Marek Mazanec to the top corner to tie the game at 1-1.
Boston maintained that pressure and gained a 2-1 advantage on Iginla's 13th goal of the season. Linemate Milan Lucic had control of the puck and made a strong centering pass to Iginla, who was crashing the net and pumped in the goal. That tally gave Boston's top line of Lucic, Krejci and Iginla a six-game point streak.
During his AHL career, Svedberg has been known as a closer for his ability to secure a third-period lead for his team. After Boston gained the lead, the Predators were able to tie it at 2-2 on Shea Weber's 10th goal of the season at 14:35 of the third period. There was a lot of traffic in front of Svedberg when Weber's slap shot from the high slot beat Boston's goaltender through the five-hole. In overtime, Marchand's shot from the top of the left faceoff circle made its way through traffic and went in for the game-winner.
He's back: After missing 10 games with a lower-body injury, Bruins defenseman Dougie Hamilton returned to the lineup. As a result, fellow blueliner Kevan Miller was a healthy scratch. Hamilton was paired with Zdeno Chara for the majority of the game. For someone who missed a lengthy amount of time, Hamilton played well with little rust in his game.
No-penalty Paille: Entering Thursday's action, there were only three players in the NHL to play 30 or more games without a penalty, including the Bruins' Daniel Paille. That streak ended for Paille, who was whistled for tripping at 5:45 of the first period. It was his first penalty in 34 games. Washington's Marcus Johansson has gone 40 games, while Colorado's Ryan O'Reilly has played 39 games without a penalty this season.
Up next: The Bruins will host the Winnipeg Jets at 1 p.m. on Saturday at TD Garden. Boston will then travel to the West Coast next week for a three-game road trip through Anaheim, Los Angeles and San Jose.