He had already generated two tremendous setups that led to goals. Rather than take the shots himself, Bruins center Patrice Bergeron had elected to pass to left wing Marco Sturm during two-on-one breaks midway through the first period and early in the third. If it works, keep doing it, right? Wrong.
With the Bruins and Anaheim Mighty Ducks in overtime, Bergeron figured goalie Ilja Bryzgalov would be expecting another dish to Sturm on another two-on-one, so he snapped a shot from the left circle instead, giving Boston a 4-3 victory at TD Banknorth Garden yesterday afternoon.
''I'm sure he was thinking maybe I was going to pass the puck and maybe he wasn't ready," Bergeron said. ''Maybe I surprised him a little bit. I was thinking shooting all the way."
Bergeron's goal and two assists gave him 34 points, finally moving him ahead of the departed Joe Thornton for the team lead. Sturm finished with a pair of goals (Nos. 14 and 15) and one assist.
Goalie Tim Thomas, making his second straight start, turned back 25 Anaheim shots, but he said this was clearly the Bergeron-Sturm show.
''That was beautiful with [them] all night," Thomas said. ''Those were three beautiful plays and Bergie finished it off in style."
The Bruins came out of the gate strong, outshooting the Ducks, 12-5, in the opening period.
Sturm gave Boston a 1-0 lead at 10:57 when he redirected a Bergeron feed, and left wing Sergei Samsonov found the back of the net at 15:35, potting a backhander after a Milan Jurcina point shot.
Early in the second, which was dominated by Anaheim, Ducks defenseman Scott Niedermayer scored on the power play at 1:12 to cut the decifit in half. Sturm made it 3-1 at 3:50 of the third, finishing off a remarkable Bergeron feed. Bergeron, in the right circle, was knocked down by defenseman Francois Beauchemin but managed to relay a tape-to-tape pass to Sturm as he was falling.
''The guy surprised me," said Bergeron. ''He kind of jumped me. I got lucky, the puck stayed on my stick. I didn't even think about shooting, I just tried to go across first."
Sturm said he couldn't believe what he was seeing.
''The first one, I know he's going to give it to me," he said. ''The second one, he made a pretty nice move because the guy was sliding into him and he still got it on my stick."
The game turned controversial after Chris Kunitz pulled the Ducks to 3-2 at 9:19 of the third. Bergeron was assessed a hooking call at 9:33, and that's when Anaheim coach Randy Carlyle decided to pull out what he thought was a trump card. He challenged the curve of Samsonov's stick, which he noticed during warmups and thought was illegal.
Samsonov's stick was measured, Carlyle was right, and Samsonov was sent to the box, giving the Ducks a five-on-three advantage for two minutes.
''It's one of those things you don't really like to do," Carlyle said. ''But the player has a certain amount of responsibility for his stick. It was drastically illegal. There's no question the thing was illegal."
Center Ryan Getzlaf converted at 10:17, and the score was tied at 3-3.
Bruins coach Mike Sullivan wasn't happy about the call against Samsonov but said he wouldn't rule out a challenge himself if the opportunity presented itself.
''Personally, I don't like the rule, I think the rule stinks," Sullivan said. ''I don't understand the purpose it serves, I really don't. Having said that, we'll make mention of it with our players to make sure it doesn't happen."
In overtime, Bergeron came through with his 13th of the year. The Bruins got all four goals from forwards, and it was the first time in four contests that they received scoring from their front line.
In a 2-1 shootout loss to Dallas Saturday, Thomas was outstanding, but he was thrilled with yesterday's win even though he didn't think he was as sharp.
''I have to say I was a little bit more on last time," said Thomas, who earned his fourth NHL victory and first since 2002-03. ''But that's hockey. Sometimes you get your wins when you're not 100 percent on. Sometimes you can be 100 percent on and it's not your night."
This time it belonged to Bergeron and Sturm.