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Thursday, January 2, 2014

Bruins Open 2014 With 3-2 Overtime Win vs. Predators

As expected, Bruins-Predators wasn't exactly an instant classic (think Winter Classic without the outdoors and national audience) but at least Boston sent home their hearty fans with an overtime win as Brad Marchand scored 54 seconds into the extra frame at TD Garden to sweep the season series (2-0) with Nashville. It was a milestone moment for Niklas Svedberg (33 saves) who picked up his first NHL win, he's also the first Swede to ever play goaltender for the B's. Somewhere P.J. Axelsson smiles!

In case you haven't gotten out of your mom's basement all day (zing!), there is a blizzard hitting all of New England so I can excuse many fans for not showing up to the Garden. Still, you have to admit it was a pretty decent turnout for a Bruins-Predators game that was the 41st contest of the season (halfway through).

The first period was devoid of anything notable but former UVM star and Blackhawk Viktor Stalberg gave Nashville a 1-0 lead at 18:04 after Svedberg left a juicy rebound in front, one of his only mistakes of the night. Johnny Boychuk tied it at 4:55 of the third period from Ryan Spooner and Carl Soderberg. It wasn't a patented Johnny Rocket per se but his second goal of the season did the trick as he filled the shooting lane and was there for Spooner's on the money sauce.

Jarome Iginla scored his 13th goal of the season at 12:29 and given the way the Preds struggle to score, you felt like that might be enough. I forget when it happened exactly earlier in the season but the tally was a carbon copy of an earlier goal by him: he flies to the net and tips in a crisp pass from Milan Lucic, with David Krejci providing the second assist.

Zdeno Chara has the fastest shot in the NHL-if you're into that kind of stuff-but Shea Weber is right there with him. He showed he can still bring it as he knotted things at two with 5:25 left in regulation. His bomb from the point was an example of what he'll likely be doing for Team Canada (hopefully not against the U.S. though) at the Sochi Olympics.

Marchand's goal game after a sweet dangle that he rarely ever successfully completes. It was his 10th goal of the season and it was assisted by Patrice Bergeron and Dougie Hamilton. Soderberg and Hamilton both returned from injuries tonight and Svedberg was sent back to Providence after the game but he certainly earned another look in the near future by the big club.

Maybe the snow will have temporarily stopped by the time the Bruins host the Jets (19-19-5) on Saturday (1, NESN). It's the final game for Boston of a three-game homestand which precedes a very difficult three-game road trip in California: Anaheim, Los Angeles and San Jose. Needless to say, Boston needs to beat Winnipeg to feel as confident as they can going into next week against three of the top teams in the Western Conference.

UPDATE 1/4: Bruins called up forward Justin Florek, if he plays today vs. Winnipeg it would be his NHL debut.

UPDATE 1/5: Florek was sent back to Providence.

UPDATE 1/6: Florek was recalled on an emergency basis and he'll join the team in Anaheim ahead of tomorrow night's game vs. the Ducks (10, NESN).

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