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The Boston Bruins were looking to get back on track late Saturday night on the west coast, and they managed exactly that with a 4-2 victory over the Los Angeles Kings. The team looked strong across the board for what seems like the first time in a while, as they snapped a four-game road losing streak. It was Zdeno Chara’s 1000th NHL game.
Goaltender Tim Thomas shined with 41 saves in 43 chances, and his play spoke louder than the stats sheet. The Kings looked better offensively early, outshooting the Bruins 15-11 in the first period. From the start both sides showed great physicality as Los Angeles (37-26-12) and Boston (43-28-3) each are in the middle of their respective conference playoff races as the regular season comes to an end in the coming weeks.
Despite the intensity, the teams remained scoreless after the opening 20 minutes. Chris Kelly fought with Trevor Lewis and beat the Kings player up after a rough hit along the boards. The defensive battle would end sooner than later however as the Bruins broke the deadlock in unlikely fashion.
Brian Rolston was called for holding which left the Bruins down a man, but a steal by Brad Marchand set up a rebound attempt by Patrice Bergeron which he fired past goalie Jonathan Quick for the first goal of the game 5:18 into the period. It was Bergeron’s 20th goal of the year.
The Kings responded at 13:17 when Colin Fraser tied the game following a good offensive sequence from Boston. It looked like the B’s were about to add to their slim lead but instead the Kings offense finally pierced the wall that had been Thomas to that point. Both sides would be clawing for a victory heading into the last period, but it was the Bruins who took charge.
At 4:37 of the third, Milan Lucic put Boston ahead again with his 24th of the year. It came on a rush starting in the Boston zone, and based on the way Thomas had been playing it looked like it might be all the team needed. However Kelly added some insurance about a minute later with a deflection off of his skate into the net. The play was reviewed to challenge any kicking motion but to no avail as the Bruins gained a 3-1 advantage.
It turned out to be a good thing they did because Los Angeles put together their offensive rhythm with pressure from everywhere attacking Thomas. He finally made a mistake when Slava Voynov took a shot that reached the back of the net. A power play opportunity for the Kings went to waste as they attempted to tie the game up, and instead a late pulling of Quick backfired when the Bruins added an empty net goal to seal it at 4-2.
Boston doesn’t get much of a chance to rest though as they’ll be back to the west coast ice tomorrow against the Ducks (32-32-11). It’s the first of four games this week as the team will travel back to Boston soon after. The Ducks are on the outside looking in at a playoff birth but could be a challenge before the B’s are able to return home.