The Bruins beat the Hurricanes for the second time in a week, this time, 3-2, in overtime on Saturday afternoon at TD Garden. Jarome Iginla passed the puck back to David Krejci, who waited out Cam Ward (35 saves) and finished high for a memorable game-winner just 1:28 into the extra session. Krejci couldn’t have picked a better time to end a seven-game goal-less drought and his teammates had to be thrilled they didn’t go to a shootout for the second straight game after losing, 3-2, to St. Louis on Thursday on their home ice.
“I thought we were the better team,” said Bruins head coach Claude Julien whose team outshot Carolina 38-24 but allowed a shorthanded goal with 8:50 left in the third period that tied it at two. “We stayed composed and didn’t get mad (after Patrick Dwyer’s tally) about it on the bench. We haven’t been so lucky in shootouts (1-2) so we used three forwards in overtime instead of the normal two (4-on-4).”
Boston backup goaltender Chad Johnson (22 saves) had to stay focused through long stretches of inaction but he managed to pick up his third win in four starts this season.
“That’s what you want from your second goaltender,” added Julien about Johnson. “It’s tough for any goalie to sit for that long between chances.”
Carolina’s first goal was pretty weak on two accounts: Carl Soderberg was in the box for a questionable hooking call and then Andrej Sekera beat Johnson with a long-range wrist shot from the point that simply has to be stopped. Boston answered with a power-play goal on their first man advantage of the contest as Zdeno Chara batted in a juicy rebound by Ward. All four of Chara’s goals this season have been on the power play.
Boston’s third line came through again as Reilly Smith made it 2-1 midway through the second period after good work from his linemates Chris Kelly and Carl Soderberg. It turned out that Krejci’s goal was the only shot on goal in overtime for either team. The Bruins will face a much stiffer challenge on Monday (7, NESN) as they host the Penguins, the first time Pittsburgh has been in Boston since getting swept in the Eastern Conference Finals last June.
What they'll be saying: It’s a good thing the Bruins earned two points because this would have been a bitter defeat to swallow. They outplayed the Hurricanes for most of the game, save for a soft goal and terrible giveaway that led to their shorthanded strike. Johnson still hasn’t faced a good team (Sabres, Islanders, Blue Jackets, Hurricanes) but he has given up only two goals in three of those starts and three in the other. It’s hard to see him being a starting goaltender in the NHL but I guess he fits the mold of a backup goaltender that is able to win a game here or there if you pick and choose his spots. One of the most noticeable differences for Boston vs. last year’s squad is that their third line is so much more reliable and able to produce points. Smith, Soderberg and Kelly are in a groove right now and Julien noted how he wished the other lines were as consistent lately. It was a rare off-game for Torey Krug (1 assist, -1, 17:53). He is still making a serious push for the Calder Trophy (rookie of the year) and maybe even an invitation to the US Olympic team in February.
Follow Metro Boston Bruins beat writer Richard Slate on Twitter:@RichSlate