Final: Boston 3, Los Angeles 2
Recap: After a slow start that had matinee hockey written all over it, red-hot winger Brad Marchand opened the scoring with 7:53 left in the first period on a highlight-reel shorthanded goal, as he stick-handled around Drew Doughty, got the puck back, faked out three Kings and beat the pride of Hamden, Conn., Jonathan Quick. I will go to my grave confident that wasn't a run-on sentence. Boston doubled the lead on a power-play strike from Torey Krug, who benefitted greatly from 6-foot-9 Zdeno Chara being parked in front of the net, later in the period.
L.A. got the lead to one in the second period on Willie Mitchell's first goal of the season, while Quick kept them in it with a pair of key stops on Zdeno Chara and a lunging pad save on Reilly Smith.
In the third, Jeff Carter tied the game at two on an impressive power-play setup from Doughty, on which Chad Johnson had zero chance. Just 18 ticks later, Marchand snapped his second of the night home on an even more impressive feed from Smith. It proved to be the game-winner.
Records: Boston 31-15-3, 65 points; Los Angeles 29-15-6, 64 points
Key Play of the Game: You can never underestimate the importance of chemistry among linemates. Marchand, Smith and Patrice Bergeron clearly have it going on right now. No. 37 hit No. 18 with a pass from behind the net. In the blink of an eye, it was on Marchand's stick in the opposite faceoff circle and was quickly rifled past Quick.
Connolly's Commendations: How good of a day was it for Marchand? He took over the team lead in goals (16), the NHL lead in shorties (4) and now has seven points (6g, 1a) in the last four games. Absolutely, positively ridiculous.
The Kings aren't an offensive dynamo, especially on the road (where they've won just one of their last eight contests), but kudos to Johnson for stepping in and backstopping a team that played in a different time zone 24 hours prior to victory with a 21-save effort.
This probably warrants its own full-length article, but Kevan Miller is really proving himself worthy of a full-time role in the National Hockey League. The rookie blueliner was rock solid yet again this afternoon in 19:05 of action, during which he dished out a game-high five hits (none greater than his demolition of Kings captain Dustin Brown late in the game). His emergence might make a similar defender, Adam McQuaid (out with a leg injury), expendable down the line when the B's D corps is healthier.
Connolly's Critiques: Loui Eriksson was a non-factor with zeros across the board, and now has no points in his last four tilts. The Swedish winger looked uncomfortable with the puck during a man advantage in the middle frame.
Notes: Krug came in with just one point in the last five games. ... Milan Lucic got five for fighting and an extra two-minute roughing penalty late in the first when he beat up Jordan Nolan for a hit on Krug. ... Johnson improved to 7-3-0 on the year with the win.
Final Thoughts: After a sluggish start, the Kings and Bruins got engaged in a game that had a very playoff-like feel to it. Marchand's two goals weren't enough to get Boston a win in Chicago Sunday, but his repeat performance did the trick against L.A. on Monday.
Next: The B's will enjoy a nice little break before heading out to Philly to take on the Flyers on Saturday.