The Boston Bruins 2-1 home win over the Tampa Bay Lightning on Thursday night not only extended their seven-game win streak and propelled them into second place in the Eastern Conference, but it helped them avoid the typical letdown after a long and successful road trip. Furthermore, if they continue to block out the pressure and distractions of playing at home, they may be able to establish TD Garden as a difficult place for opponents to win.
Following their 1-0 win at Ottawa on Tuesday, the players said they needed to just treat their first home game after the road trip the same way they treated those six wins on the road. And that’s just what they did Thursday night before the 61st straight sellout at TD Garden.
“I thought on that road trip we really did a great job of playing 60 minutes, so I thought we’ve been pretty good that way,” Bruins coach Claude Julien said. “I think what maybe is a little different is I don’t think we’ve been able to do that at home, as well. And tonight was one of those nights where we got the 60-minute effort. I think the fact that our guys were into it -- we’re skating well, we felt good about our game and we really want to obviously win this one for the right reasons.
“All day long we talked to our team about the paths that we had to do in order to get the win: Let’s not focus so much on the end result more than what we have to do in order to get it. And our guys are ready to do what they had to do.”
Milan Lucic scored his seventh game-winner of the season and second the team’s past four games. He also now leads the team with 28 goals but he seemed happier that he and his team were able to return home and finally make TD Garden their comfy confines instead of the place where they had struggled to a 15-12-3 home record heading into the game Thursday night.
“It’s great!” Lucic said following the win. “The first one back is always the toughest and I think we played the same way [as on the road trip]. All 20guys did what they needed to do.”
“Yeah, that’s what everyone says when you’re on the road and you have some wins -- you come home from a long road trip and you’re not as sharp,” Horton said. “But we wanted to be sharp. You know, we’ll take it; we won the game and we got two points, and we’re looking on Saturday to have a big game [vs. the Pittsburgh Penguins].”
Goaltender Tim Thomas, who made 27 saves for his 29th win of the season, actually credited the media for the Bruins winning their first game back home after a long trip.
“That’s because you guys didn’t mention it or write about it and get it in our heads,” Thomas joked. “Nah, but we did a good job, too. We got some rest and we all felt refreshed today. I even said to Thorty [Shawn Thornton] when we got here today, ‘I feel really good,’ and he said, ‘Yeah me, too!’ So it was weird because obviously you're tired after such a long trip, but we were focused and it showed from the get-go.
"We just kept doing what we did on the road and it paid off.”