By Brian Willwerth
BOSTON, MA – The fourth line came up big for the Bruins Wednesday night. Shawn Thornton scored a key goal, Dennis Seidenberg and Gregory Campbell scored 1:08 apart in the second period and Tim Thomas made 30 saves, as the Bruins hung on for a 3-2 victory over the New York Islanders at TD Garden.
The first period featured back-and-forth action for the entire 20 minutes, with “entire” being the key word. Tim Thomas and Rick DiPietro were spectacular between the pipes for their respective teams. The Bruins had a two-man advantage midway through the period, but couldn’t cash in.
That is, until the final few ticks of the clock, when Shawn Thornton, returning to action for the first time in a week, banged one home past DiPietro with 0.1 left in the period. It was Thornton’s tenth goal of the season.
“There were some lapses,” said Thornton. “We just have to worry about playing the game, and not worry about who were playing against.”
“I hate watching hockey,” he said of the games he missed due to injury.
It was a huge boost for the Bruins and a backbreaking goal for the Islanders. The Bruins outshot the Isles, 15-14.
The action remained fast-paced in the second period, and the scoring picked up as well.
Michael Grabner beat Thomas and tied the game at one. It was his 31st goal of the season and certainly it would not be his last. DiPietro – yes, the goalie – got an assist.
The Bruins came right back. Dennis Seidenberg collected his seventh goal of the season when he tipped home a shot from the point to give Boston the lead. Shortly thereafter, Gregory Campbell stole the puck in the New York zone and beat DiPietro to give the Bruins a two-goal advantage. It was Campbell’s 13th goal of the season and the first scored by the Bruins in a 4-on-4 situation all season.
“I think the consensus after the first period is that we were just playing OK,” said Mark Recchi. “For us to come out and score a couple of goals and get on top, and find yourself in the same situation you were in Monday nigh and to keep that lead, that was good for us.”
Late in the period, the Bruins went on the power play again, but the Islanders got on the board. And again, it was Grabner, stealing the puck at center ice and skating in alone on Thomas. Grabner won the battle and New York closed to within a goal at 3-2. Grabner has a power play goal and a shorthanded goal.
The action slowed down considerably in the final period, with neither team being able to score. The Islanders pulled DiPietro with about a minute remaining, but never really got a decent chance on Thomas.
Head coach Claude Julien praised the work of the fourth line, but wasn’t too happy with the teams overall effort.
“Certainly not the kind of game you want to see from your team,” he said. “I think the execution wasn’t very good tonight, our best players certainly didn’t make a difference. What made the difference was our fourth line.”
It certainly did.
Before the game, the Bruins handed out their regular season awards. Thornton was the recipient of the Eddie Shore Award, an award given by the Gallery Gods for exceptional hustle and determination. The Elizabeth Dufresne Trophy (outstanding performance during home games) went to Thomas. And the John P. Bucyk Award, given to the most charitable Bruin, went to Andrew Ference. Ference.