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The Bruins came into their Tuesday night game with the Winnipeg Jets (20-16-5) looking to get back into the win column after a rough game and loss to the rival Vancouver Canucks on Saturday evening. They were without Brad Marchand, who received a controversial and highly publicized 5-game suspension for his hit on Sami Salo. The Jets are a good team on their home ice, but they and coach Claude Noel were at the TD Garden where the Bruins (26-11-1) had Tuukka Rask in net trying to lead them to yet another riveting performance.
However it was the Jets that dominated the majority of the first two periods of play, pressuring the Bruins with consistent offense as they maintained three different one goal leads. The Bruins held their own though, and gained strength around great play of Patrice Bergeron as a leader on the ice and they managed an incredible third period surge of offense that carried them to a 5-3 victory.
The Jets defeated the Bruins the last time they met in December, and they showed a similar energy in the first period as they matched the Bruins play for play. At first it looked as if Boston would be scoring at will against the Jets and goaltender Ondrej Pavelec. They took an early power play opportunity but failed to capitalize, despite a nice offensive chance by Tyler Seguin. The Bruins continued to look energetic and strong attacking the net until Chris Thorburn awarded penalty shot, denied by Rask.
Rask looked sharp early on, although that was no surprise considering he had not suffered a regular season loss since October 29th. Shortly after the failed Winnipeg penalty shot, Seguin broke away and soared up down the ice, but tumbled toward net and failed to deliver a chance to score. Despite each team getting many opportunities the game remained scoreless as things heated up with just under five minutes remaining. After the Bruins turned the puck over in front of their own net, Jim Slater banged a shot off the post as Boston dodged a bullet.
The Jets luck would change though, as Zack Bogosian launched a deep shot from the blue line which redirected past Rask to give Winnipeg the first goal of the game. It was awarded to Andrew Ladd who was out in front of the net. The Bruins responded quickly though as the clock ticked down to the end of the period. Nathan Horton scored his 13th goal of the season at 19:20 with assists from Milan Lucic and David Krejci. The late goal gave Boston some much needed momentum as the teams were tied 1-1 going into the second period.
The Bruins played relatively sloppily in the first, committing plenty of turnovers that allowed for speed from Winnipeg against Tuukka Rask, who held them to one goal on a tricky deflection. However that offensive showing from the Jets would continue in the second period, as they wasted no time when ex-Bruin Blake Wheeler scored at 0:31. The two teams had each scored in just over a minute of playing time divided by the period break.
However the Bruins would rally from the deficit thanks to a bit of luck from a poor penalty call. Shawn Thornton was given 2:00 on an illegal check to the head call despite simply tripping past the Jets player without any such contact. After a more accurate call against Andrew Ference for hooking, the Bruins were facing a 5-on-3 attack by Winnipeg. After Thornton was let out of the penalty box, he found himself in the perfect position to breakaway down the ice where he earned a penalty shot. After dangling his foot midair, Thornton launched a backhanded shot that sneaked past Pavelec, tying the game again. It was his fourth goal of the season and the first short-handed goal of his career.
Instead of gaining a form of momentum following the unlikely goal, the Bruins got sloppy again and the Jets took advantage. An ugly turnover turned into Eric Fehr’s first goal of the season, as he snapped a quick release shot which deflected off of the skate of Joe Corvo into net. Rask seemed to be catching a lot of unfortunate pucks changing direction, as he allowed his third goal of the night and the Bruins trailed for the third time. The teams headed for the third period with the Jets leading by that single goal, so the Bruins would need to respond in order to avoid their second consecutive loss.
Eight seconds into the third period everything changed for Boston. Following the face off, Krejci fired a spin pass towards goal which Horton swiped to the back of the net to knot the game 3-3. The crowd erupted after a quick score, and momentum truly found itself on the shoulders of the black and gold. The Jets appeared rattled, as Boston skated up and down the ice firing shot after shot in the opening minutes, each resulting in large rebounds off of Pavelec.
Seguin gave the Bruins the lead when he scored on a play orchestrated by Bergeron in the neutral zone, and just like that it was 4-3 Boston. The first lead of the game after they spent the night catching up to Winnipeg, now the Bruins looked intensely stronger and more dominate as they looked poised for another win. They had scored 2 goals in the first 3:06 of the third period after scoring just as many goals in the opening forty minutes of play.
They scored yet again after a scramble in the front of the net on a goal by Beniot Pouliot. He was filling in for the suspended Marchand, whose services were not largely missed on Tuesday night as the Bruins held on to their 5-3 lead for the win. They are now 10-2-0 in their last 12 games, as they prepare themselves for the visiting Montreal Canadiens on Thursday night.