Bruins, Niklas Svedberg take bite out of Predators
On the verge of their first three-game losing streak of the season, the Bruins naturally turned to Providence goaltender Niklas Svedberg (33 saves) to give them a spark. Boston (27-12-2) beat Nashville (18-18-5), 3-2, Thursday night in overtime at TD Garden on Brad Marchand’s winner, 54 seconds into the extra session. The Bruins officially ended the first half of the season leading the Atlantic Division and second overall in the Eastern Conference, three points behind Pittsburgh (with a game in hand).
Head coach Claude Julien was impressed by Svedberg’s debut, the first Swedish goaltender to ever appear in a Bruins uniform.
“He stood tall and made some good saves,” Julien said. “He showed us that he’s a guy we need to look at and consider, there’s a good chance we see him again soon, but he’s going back to Providence (Friday).”
With a blizzard roaring outside and an understandably less-than-capacity crowd, both teams were lethargic to start the game. Things picked up a bit in the second period when Viktor Stalberg put in a Svedberg rebound late in the frame for a 1-0 Nashville lead. Boston had won, 6-2, in Nashville on Dec. 23 and they weren’t going to fall to the Predators in their only other meeting of the season.
Johnny Boychuk tied it early in the third period after a great pass from Ryan Spooner, then Jarome Iginla notched a similarly beautiful tally on a perfect feed by Milan Lucic. Iginla drove to the net and tipped it in before he bumped into Predators goaltender Marek Mazanec (22 saves). Nashville wouldn’t go quietly though as Shea Weber used his lethal slap shot to tie it late in the third. Marchand’s strike came only 54 seconds into overtime after he dangled around a Predator then snapped a low but hard shot into the net.
Boston hosts another middling team, the Jets (19-19-5), on Saturday (1 p.m., NESN) before a very difficult three-game road trip in California next week: Los Angeles, Anaheim and San Jose.
What they’ll be saying: They are not in the same conference and besides that, no matchup with the Predators will ever be deemed a must-win, but the B’s really needed these two points after a couple disappointing efforts in a row. Having Dougie Hamilton (who missed the previous 10 games) and Carl Soderberg (who had missed the last two games) helped as both had assists, but more than that they provided the depth that Boston has lacked in recent weeks with its rash of injuries. Hamilton played 17:56 with Zdeno Chara, with two hits, a takeaway and a blocked shot. Soderberg was back on the third line with Mark Fraser and Ryan Spooner.
Despite the fact that he was undrafted, Svedberg displayed some of the tools Thursday that made him the top goaltender in the AHL last season. Like Tuukka Rask, he’s fundamentally sound and calm in the net. Don’t be surprised if he’s Rask’s backup in a matter of weeks since it seems like Boston has lost faith in Chad Johnson.
Iginla, Lucic and Krejci are all riding a six-game point streak after their efforts in this one and, as stated before, they are on the short list for top forward lines in the NHL. You can see them gaining more confidence and chemistry in every game plus they have routinely been Boston’s best line, what you expect from a No. 1 line.
Follow Metro Boston Bruins beat writer Richard Slate on Twitter: @RichSlate