Satan tips scales in Bruins’ favor
TORONTO — The Bruins left here last night dancing on air, a 2-1 overtime win over the Maple Leafs tucked in their equipment bags and their playoff position preserved.
But it was a night that started poorly and threatened to get worse — much worse — even if much of the night’s anxieties were washed away when Miroslav Satan tipped home a Zdeno Chara wrister with 1:35 remaining in overtime.
“Not the start we wanted,’’ said coach Claude Julien. “It was like we were skating in quicksand out there.’’
Along with arriving with dead legs, the Bruins also suffered a key loss in the first period when slick defenseman Dennis Seidenberg exited with a badly sliced left wrist, cut by a Nikolai Kulemin skate. Seidenberg, who sustained the cut with 9:38 gone in the first period, spent the rest of the game at a local hospital, getting the wound stitched up and undergoing tests for possible damage to tendons and ligaments.
According to Julien, Seidenberg received a relatively clean bill of health and was on the team flight to Washington, where tomorrow night the Bruins will face the Capitals. Seidenberg, said Julien, did not suffer any underlying structural damage to the wrist or hand and should be able to play tomorrow.
“He was bleeding profusely,’’ noted Leafs coach Ron Wilson. “He had a bad slice.’’
The upshot of Seidenberg’s absence was that four defensemen, Chara chief among them, had to log heavy minutes for the Black and Gold to survive. Chara punched in for 38 shifts and a beastly 32:53 in ice time. Dennis Wideman went for 31/27:34, Matt Hunwick for 35/27:36, and Johnny Boychuk for 31/26:09. Andrew Bodnarchuk, who caught a 6:30 a.m. flight out of Providence to make his NHL debut, chipped in with 11 shifts and 7:50.
“I think our defensemen deserve a lot of credit,’’ said Julien. “After we lost Seidenberg, our top four defensemen put in a lot of time. Those guys played their heart out tonight.’’
Meanwhile, the Boston forwards once more played leading roles in the remake of “The Gang That Couldn’t Shoot Straight.’’ Satan popped in the tying goal with 8:01 gone in the second period, pushing home a short shot from near the right post after David Krejci sailed in a long backhander off the left wing. That goal now stands as Boston’s only strike in its last nine periods of regulation play.
It’s abundantly clear, if the Bruins make the playoffs, their only chance of advancing is near-perfect goaltending (like Tuukka Rask’s 27 stops on 28 shots last night) and stalwart defense. Julien shook up the lines in an attempt to wring out a little more offensive juice, but other than the Marco Sturm-Krejci-Satan combination, the offense again was nothing too formidable. It got better after the first period, which is to say anything is better than nothing. The Bruins logged a measly five shots in the first 20 minutes.
“The feeling doesn’t change,’’ explained Satan, who potted his seventh and eighth goals after being plucked off the NHL scrapheap by general manager Peter Chiarelli. “Everyone has to produce and get as many points as we can.’’
The Leafs took a 1-0 lead with 5:10 gone in the first period, the Bruins standing around waiting for the game to begin. Dion Phaneuf sent in a shot from high in the right circle and Colton Orr, originally a Bruin, potted the go-ahead goal.
To their credit, the Bruins did pick it up over the final 40 minutes, but such slow starts are troublesome for a team that needs to show desperation from the drop of the puck. Julien hinted after the win that he felt the start was a product of the intense pressure his club has been under most of the second half, and especially these last couple of weeks when the offense has all but dried up.
On the winning goal, Krejci won a faceoff in Toronto’s end in the right faceoff dot, pulling the puck back to Chara with the clubs skating four on four.
“It’s pretty obvious what you have to do there,’’ explained Chara. “If you don’t keep it in, or start fooling around with it, then there’s no one behind you to back you up. You’ve got to get the puck and get it in there quickly. When I got the puck from David off the draw — that’s a big faceoff win — and then I skated over to the board and put it on net. Miro was there. Good play by him.’’
“We were happy to get the two points,’’ said a smiling Satan. “It’s a little better for us after today.’’