March 2, 2013

Postgame Breakdown: Power play picks up the slack

By Jesse Connolly

Anton Khudobin denies former Harvard forward Alex Killorn. (Getty Images)

Final: Boston 3, Tampa Bay 2

Recap: In a battle between two backups, it was Anton Khudobin who succumbed to the opposition first. The B’s netminder allowed power play goals to Steven Stamkos and Alex Killorn in the opening 8:38 of the game, putting Boston in an early hole.

The Bruins finally came to life in the second period when A Tyler Seguin snipe on the man advantage cut the deficit in half. Rich Peverley’s third goal of the season – which came off of a great feed from Adam McQuaid – tied it up just 77 seconds later.

In the third, Brendan Mikkelson was given a double-minor for high-sticking Milan Lucic. Boston capitalized with 37 seconds left on the four-minute power play, as Patrice Bergeron picked up his 11th assist of the season feeding Brad Marchand for his 11th goal of the season. That was all she wrote.

Records: Boston 14-2-2, 30 points; Tampa Bay 9-11-1, 19 points

Key Play of the Game: On the game-winning goal, Brad Marchand was knocked down on a cross-check the winger might’ve embellished just a tad. He got up and, upon Tampa foolishly trying to go on the attack while shorthanded in the closing minutes of a tied game, took off on a 2-on-1 with Bergeron and ripped the game-winner past Mathieu Garon.

Connolly’s Commendations: Assists are fine and dandy, but it was nice to see Seguin show off his shooting skills. No. 19’s goal served as alarm bells for the Black and Gold. He had a game-high five shots on goal.

Good on Khudobin for settling down and playing an effective game. Twenty saves on 22 shots isn’t a spectacular performance by any stretch, but when your backup beats the top offense in the National Hockey League, that’s pretty damn good in my book.

Connolly’s Critiques: Color me not impressed by Claude Julien’s decision to make Shawn Thornton a healthy scratch. Yeah, you’ve gotta get Jay Pandolfo in once in a while, but Thornton played his best game since returning from a concussion in Boston’s tilt against the Sens Thursday night. Seems like a poorly-timed move.

Speaking of healthy scratches, I’m willing to bet you at least $2.75 that Chris Bourque (Boxford, Mass.) might be one awfully soon. The struggling winger had a team-low 7:17 of ice time and has had a pretty rough go of it in the B’s first two games back home.

Notes: Seguin’s goal was his second power-play strike of the season, and Boston’s first on home ice in 2013. Marchand is now in a four-way tie for the league lead with four game-winning goals.

Final Thoughts: The Bruins are now 2-for-2 at turning in far-from-perfect performances during this short homestand but, as per usual, we have to applaud their ability to get the two points – and the comeback fashion in which they did so.

Next: Regardless of how the Habs’ game against Pittsburgh goes Saturday night, first place in the Northeast Division will be on the line when the B’s host Montreal in a rare Sunday evening showdown at TD Garden.

Twitter: @JesseNEHJ