Bruins blast Predators in Nashville
It will definitely be a Merry Christmas for the Bruins, who picked up a 6-2 win Monday at Nashville’s Bridgestone Arena. Boston (25-10-2) scored a season-high in total goals and power-play goals (3) with 10 different players recording points, led by Carl Soderberg (1 goal, 2 assists), Reilly Smith (1 goal, 2 assists) and Ryan Spooner (3 assists). Every team in the NHL is off from Christmas Eve to Dec. 26 and Boston returns to action on Friday (7 p.m., NESN) with a home-and-home series with Ottawa.
It couldn’t have been a worse start for the Predators (16-17-4), who allowed three goals in the first 10:47. UMass Lowell product Carter Hutton started in goal for Nashville but he only lasted 5:59 before he was pulled following a horrific rebound leading to Matt Fraser’s first goal as a Bruin. Jarome Iginla scored at 1:16, tipping Zdeno Chara’s shot from the point and Smith notched the first power-play goal to make it 3-0.
Nashville’s Craig Smith had a power-play goal in the second period, then another marker early in the third to cut it to 3-2. However, Boston got a 5-on-3 advantage for 1:37 and it scored not once, but twice. Iginla and Soderberg had one-timers 49 seconds apart to break the game open, then Brad Marchand closed it out. Tuukka Rask (32 saves) made some important saves, including a breakaway by Paul Gaustad.
The B’s are now 7-2 in their last nine games and 13-4-1 in their past 18 games to stay within range of the Penguins, who lead the Eastern Conference with 55 points (in three more games than Boston). Boston last played in Nashville on St. Patrick’s Day in 2011 and they hadn’t won there since March 9, 2004. With the amount of injuries and players they’ve called up from Providence lately, the Bruins have played remarkably well.
What they’ll be saying: Remember when people used to doubt Bruins head coach Claude Julien? It was understandable when the team continually fell short in the playoffs but the last few seasons of success in Boston have solidified his place as one of the NHL’s best behind the bench. Monday’s victory was Julien’s 400th career win (281st with the Bruins). After missing his past nine games with a lower-body injury, defenseman Adam McQuaid returned to the lineup with Matt Bartkowski going back to the press box as a healthy scratch. McQuaid is one of the more feared fighters on Boston but it was still somewhat surprising to see him drop the gloves only 2:40 into this contest vs. Eric Nystrom. This was the first three-point game in the NHL for both Soderberg and Spooner, who have really found a connection on the third line and second power play unit. Smith tied Milan Lucic for the team’s goal-scoring lead (12) while David Krejci extended his leading assist total (25).
- Boston’s power play is rolling, something not many people have said in years. The B’s are 9-for-21 in their last eight games; not surprisingly and Boston is 5-0 this season when it scores 2-plus power play-goals.
- No word on Shawn Thornton’s appeal of his 15-game suspension. He met with NHL commissioner Gary Bettman on Friday in New York. I know it’s the holiday season but come on, could they drag this out any longer?
Follow Metro Boston Bruins beat writer Richard Slate on Twitter: @RichSlate