BOSTON -- While the Boston Bruins admitted to some fatigue entering Tuesday night's game with the New Jersey Devils after getting in late the night before following a hard-fought 5-3 win at Carolina, they felt rather good about their effort, coming away with a 2-1 shootout win, and there is a strong confidence building in the dressing room.
Boston earned another come-from-behind victory and did so against the reigning Eastern Conference champions, a well-rested team with a grinding style they call "heavy" and one that could have easily weighed down a Bruins team playing the tail end of a back-to-back set.
“If anything, I thought it was a real heavy game,” Boston coach Claude Julien said. “I use that term every time we play them, real heavy game. They’re a real good team, they are a legit good team. They didn’t make it to the [Stanley Cup] finals by accident. They’re hard to score on, they defend well, but they’re also strong.
“They’ve got some great players there that can score and they’re getting great goaltending. And they are a hard team to play against, and that’s why I’m really proud of the way our guys handled it tonight. Because they were here waiting for us, well-rested, and then we had to come out extremely good to beat them. I give our team a lot of credit because they played a good game, and until the last few minutes of the third they were leading us 1-0.”
But even more impressive to Julien is the no-quit attitude his team has possessed in the early going this season. Whether the Bruins are coming from behind or have blown a lead -- as they did in Carolina -- they have been able to dig deep and find the will to win. On Monday night, David Krejci scored the game-winner at Carolina with 1:50 left in regulation, and on Tuesday it was Nathan Horton who came through in the clutch to tie the game with 4:05 left.
“I think more impressive was the fact that we really came out strong in the third period,” Julien said. “Those back-to-back games, with travel in between, are not easy to work through. I'm really proud of the way our guys handled it. Obviously, we were a determined group in the third period. [Horton], who’s been playing better and better every game, comes up with a big goal.”
As Tyler Seguin pointed out, the last time the Bruins consistently found ways to win -- even on nights like Tuesday when they were an understandably tired team and wouldn’t have been criticized for just getting a point -- they went on to claim the Stanley Cup in the 2010-11 season.
“That seems to be our thing whenever we have good seasons,” Seguin said. “For instance, two years ago when we did go all the way, we were coming back no matter what the situation was, and I think it just shows the character of this locker room. Obviously still being early in the season, we want to really show our identity, and I think that’s a big part of it.”
While it's still early, the Bruins are building a strong sense of belief in each other, and that chemistry from two seasons ago seems to be forming again. Krejci credits that chemistry for the strong start that has seen the Bruins earn 11 of a possible 12 points through six games.
“We have a long time to go, but I think we’ve been lucky a bit but working hard too,” Krejci said. “We’re a close team and that’s showing now. We've got our key guys scoring and good goaltending, and it’s working well right now.”