December 23, 2013

Bruins ride suddenly-potent power play, pound Preds

By Jesse Connolly

The Bruins scored three times on the man advtantage in a runaway win over the Preds Monday. (Getty Images)

Final: Boston 6, Nashville 2

Recap: After predicting a low-scoring, mild-mannered first period between these two clubs, I was proven very, very wrong. Boston jumped out to a 3-0 lead on a redirection from Jarome Iginla, a gift from Carter Hutton that led to Matt Fraser's first strike as a Bruin and yet another Carl-Soderberg-to-Reilly-Smith strike on the man advantage. In between all of this, Adam McQuaid and Eric Nystrom exchanged some heavy jabs in a spirited bout.

The second period featured just one goal, with Craig Smith cutting the lead to two. Marek Mazanec, who replaced Hutton after Boston made it 2-0, stopped all 14 shots he faced in the middle frame. 

In the third, Nashville made a real game of it thanks to Smith's (Craig again) second strike of the night, as it was 3-2 with 3:25 gone in the period. The Bruins promptly ran away with the game from that moment on. Iginla and Soderberg scored power-play goals 49 seconds apart to make it 5-2. Brad Marchand iced it with a top-shelf wrister with 4:06 left in regulation. Rask stopped 12-of-13 shots in the final 20 minutes of play, finishing with 32 saves on the night.

Records: Boston 25-10-2, 52 points; Nashville 16-17-4, 36 points

Key Play of the Game: Iginla's second of the night was a real back-breaker. After cutting their deficit to one, the Preds found themselves with two players in the box. Iginla -- camped at the top of the crease -- poked a David Krejci pass out of midair and past Mazanec to restore Boston's two-goal lead.

Connolly's Commendations: Well, you can forget about Ryan Spooner, ah, ever going back to the American Hockey League. The slick center set up three goals. He now has seven points through 10 games. Spooner had six shots on goal and has been at 50 percent or better on faceoffs in each of the last four contests.

Power-play pals Soderberg and Smith combined for six points with two goals and four assists. These two are dynamite on the man advantage together, where they combined for four points. They have helped the Bruins jump to fifth (!) in the NHL with a 20.2 percent success rate on the PP, following a night in which Boston scored three times on the power play.

Connolly's Critiques: You'd think everyone would get involved in the act in a 6-2 win, but the fourth line trio of Jordan Caron, Greg Campbell and Nick Johnson finished with no points, a combined minus-3 rating and just one shot between them (via Campbell). I'd like to applaud them for chipping in on the PK, but Caron and Campbell were out there for Smith's power-play strike in the second period.

Notes: The victory gave coach Claude Julien his 400th career win. ... McQuaid headed down the tunnel after his bout to reportedly get sewn back up. It was a scary moment, as No. 54 was in his first game back after missing nearly a month with a lower-body injury.

Final Thoughts: The Predators briefly made a game of it, but this one was a laugher for a good 90 percent of the night. Carter Hutton allowed one so-so goal and one absolute doozy, sucking the life out of the building. The Bruins will gladly take it, as they head into the holiday break with seven wins in their last nine games.

Next: The B's will be back in action on Friday night when they host the Senators at TD Garden.

Twitter: @JesseNEHJ