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Monday, December 9, 2013

Providence Bruins Pick Up an Impressive Road Win in Toronto

Not to sound like a complete honk but there are very few teams in the NHL that could do what the Bruins accomplished tonight. They were playing in their second game in two nights, this time on the road (start of a four-game road trip through Western Canada) against a playoff-caliber division foe with their backup goaltender in net and three players recently called up from Providence in the starting lineup. Naturally Boston (20-8-2) won 5-2 at Toronto's (16-12-3) Air Canada Centre to leapfrog back over Montreal for first-place in the suddenly competitive Atlantic Division.

Chad Johnson (30 saves) played well, Ryan Spooner and Matt Fraser skated on the third line and the B's scored two power-play goals. After the Maple Leafs grabbed a 1-0 lead at 12:20 of the first period on Peter Holland's goal, Boston made sure to put in four of the next five of the next tallies. Boston's power play had been 0 for its last 6 but Carl Soderberg tied it at 5:14 of the second period. His fourth goal of the season was assisted by Reilly Smith and Patrice Bergeron, some beautiful rapid fire passing.

1:33 after that, Torey Krug blasted in his eighth goal of the season (tying Ottawa's Erik Karlsson for most by a defenseman). David Krejci and Milan Lucic had the assists on his power play strike. Boston even experienced a neat personal milestone as rookie defenseman Kevan Millar nabbed his first goal and point of his NHL career. His shot from the point had eyes to get by Jonathan Bernier (34 saves), Soderberg had the lone assist as the B's had a comfortable 3-1 lead after two periods.

Toronto was also playing its second game in two nights but at home you knew they wouldn't give up so easily. Jay McClemment went to the net to track his own rebound and it paid off 37 seconds into the final frame. Jarome Iginla helped Boston regain the vital two-goal advantage with four minutes left in regulation. Lucic made it all happen by driving down the left side then centering it to Iginla who jammed it in.

Patrice Bergeron was rewarded for all his hard work with an empty-netter at 19:49 from Gregory Campbell and Krejci. The only bad news to come out of this energizing result is that Dougie Hamilton hurt his leg and afterwards Bruins head coach Claude Julien said he was being sent back to Boston for a further examination. That means another defenseman from Providence could meet them in Calgary (11-14-4, 6th in Pacific Division) on Tuesday (9:30, NESN). Then again Julien also mentioned that Johnny Boychuk (back) could possibly play vs. the Flames.

UPDATE 12/9: Penguins winger James Neal was suspended for five games stemming from his kneeing incident vs. Brad Marchand on Saturday.

UPDATE 12/10: Loui Eriksson was placed on IR (concussion) and forward Nick Johnson was recalled from Providence. If that's not enough, Dougie Hamilton is out 2-4 weeks with a lower body injury and Daniel Paille is out tonight with an undisclosed upper body injury.

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