A big show in matinee
Fine performance by Chara and Bruins
The defense provided much of the offense, the goaltender allowed nothing at all, and yesterday at TD Garden the Bruins looked like world-beaters as they rolled over the Carolina Hurricanes, 7-0.
Paced by Zdeno Chara’s first career hat trick, the Bruins scored seven or more goals for the fourth time this season and the second time in three contests. Tim Thomas had 31 saves for his 24th career shutout and seventh this year. Thomas, who moved into sole possession of sixth place on the team’s all-time shutouts list, said the way the Bruins dominated it felt almost like a night off for him.
“There were a couple [of strong chances by Carolina], but realistically, we played really good and it was one of my easier shutouts,’’ said Thomas. “We played good [defense] and we never let them really get started for any long periods of pressure, even on the power plays. We did a really good job of not giving them Grade A scoring chances. We obviously know what those guys are capable of on the other team. We just did our jobs and didn’t let them get it started.’’
Thomas is 6-0-3 in his last nine games.
“My two most recent shutouts, it has taken a lot of the pressure off,’’ said Thomas, referring to a 6-0 win over Ottawa Jan. 11 in addition to yesterday. “Those are two of the more mentally easy games that I’ve had all year. Earlier in the year, it seems like every game was so tight. It’s nice to have these [games] when the team is doing the right things but getting rewarded. It’s nice when it’s rolling and I just hope their confidence builds and builds.’’
Defenseman Mark Stuart, playing his first game since Dec. 7 because of a broken right ring finger, got the Bruins’ offense going when he scored his first goal of the season at 7:56 of the opening period. Nathan Horton dished a pass to Stuart, who one-timed a shot past goalie Cam Ward.
“We talked about it before the game, he only had one real full practice with the team,’’ said coach Claude Julien. “You’ve been out for five or six weeks and you come back and play a pretty solid game like he did, you’ve got to be pleased. It was nice to see him get that goal.’’
Another returnee to the lineup — Milan Lucic, who missed three games because of an undisclosed injury — thought he had given Boston a two-goal lead at 9:15 but his tally was waved off because of a delayed penalty. It turned out not to matter.
Chara scored his first at 11:28 during a two-on-one. The defenseman, fresh from the penalty box, took a turn at forward as Stuart and Adam McQuaid were finishing the penalty kill. Chara raced up the ice into the left circle and beat Ward with a shot that went over his glove.
That chased Ward (two goals on five shots) in favor of Justin Peters, who fared even worse, as he allowed five goals on 33 shots. Chara’s second tally came at 15:58 with Boston enjoying a five-on-three advantage. His one-timer from the right circle beat Peters to the stick side, giving the Bruins a 3-0 lead.
Late in the second period, only seconds after Thomas robbed Carolina center Jeff Skinner at the other end, Gregory Campbell made it a four-goal bulge at the 15:51 mark. Shawn Thornton made a nice pass to Campbell, who was charging the net. Campbell, who had his back to Peters, managed to direct the puck into the net for his sixth of the year.
Patrice Bergeron scored just 13 seconds later, firing a shot from the left circle at 16:04.
In the third period, just eight seconds after a Bruins power play expired, defenseman Dennis Seidenberg helped cement the blowout when he fired the puck from the top of the left circle and Michael Ryder directed it past Peters at 2:24.
Chara completed the hat trick at 14:04 when he teed up a power play slapper from high between the circles, closing out the rout. It was Chara’s 10th goal of the year. He became the fourth Boston blue liner in history to record a trick, the first since Glen Wesley Dec. 15, 1993 at New Jersey.
Julien said the defense’s contribution — four goals and four assists — was great to see.
“It’s what we’ve been preaching all year, we’ve just been getting better at it,’’ he said. “We’ve always encouraged our [defense] to go up the ice, and the one thing we’ve worked on is probably our neutral-zone regroups and attacking with some speed. In doing that and encouraging our [defense] to carry the puck whenever the ice is available, it’s kind of gone hand in hand in giving us a better attack.’’
The teams square off again tonight in Carolina and Julien said the Bruins can take nothing for granted because he expects the Hurricanes to be much more determined.
“We have to be wary of them coming back really hard,’’ he said. “We’ve got to be well-prepared like we were [yesterday]. If we’re not ready for that, the same thing could happen to us.’’