DETROIT -- Despite a bloodied, gruesome gash, which snaked its way from his upper lip to his right nostril, Patrice Bergeron was in a jovial mood.
Bergeron, who missed almost the entire second period after getting cut by a stick to the face, cheekily lamented his future job prospects following the Boston Bruins' 3-2 win over the Detroit Red Wings at Joe Louis Arena on Thursday night.
"I guess that's the end of my modeling career," he quipped.
Considering the 20 stitches it took to repair the deep wound, it must have been painful for Bergeron to crack a smile. And there is a lot to be smiling about for the Bruins as of late.
The Bruins rallied from a late two-goal deficit against the Red Wings, rattling off three consecutive third-period goals to defeat an injury-depleted Wings squad in regulation. It was Boston's fourth straight win, critical in every sense with the jockeying both above and below it in the Eastern Conference standings.
In downing the Wings, the Bruins pulled even with their Atlantic Division foe at 93 points, though Detroit has a game in hand. And in doing so, they prevented the Ottawa Senators from gaining any ground. The Sens edged the Tampa Bay Lightning 2-1 on Thursday to keep their playoff hopes alive. Ottawa trails Boston by three points for the second wild-card spot.
"They're huge, every game now. We've played like that, those kind of games for a couple weeks, at least, so we have to keep winning," Bruins goaltender Tuukka Rask said. "Other teams are winning, too, so that's our only hope."
Red Wings coach Mike Babcock lauded Rask's 35-save performance as the deciding factor in handing the Wings their third straight loss, but it was a collective effort from Boston and one that did not take Bruins coach Claude Julien by surprise.
After the team's second goal in the third period -- Loui Eriksson's 21st of the season -- Julien felt a palpable change on his bench. Earlier in the season, the Bruins might have stumbled when staring down a 2-0 hole. But things are starting to change for this team, which is gaining confidence at precisely the right time with a little more than one week left in the regular season.
"You saw a real urgency on our bench," Julien said. "That's a good sign."
Balanced production is something the Bruins have to feel good about right now, as well. Whereas Milan Lucic has led the charge recently, looking like the type of physical force that makes him so effective in big games, the Bruins are getting contributions from throughout their lineup.
The winning goal?
That was Zach Trotman's first score of his NHL career. The 24-year-old defenseman, who grew up in nearby Novi, Michigan, reached the milestone with 30 family and friends on hand to watch.
"Just ecstatic," Trotman said of the feeling. "I couldn't believe it at first. Surreal. You dream about that moment for a long time, so when it happens it's kind of a shock."
Carl Soderberg and Reilly Smith finished the night with two points each, as did Brett Connolly, who chipped in with a pair of assists in his Bruins debut. After missing almost a month because of a displaced fracture in his right index finger, he was a bit winded at times, sure. In fact, he felt as if he played almost the entire second period, but he was in no mood to complain.
He was happy to contribute and appreciative that Julien showed no reservations about tossing him into the fire.
"It feels really good to be out there a lot. It's nice to see Claude just throwing me right out there," Connolly said. "I haven't had that luxury in a long time, so I'm very happy with the way I started and to get the win, obviously."
Julien said he was impressed with Connolly's play, especially given his lengthy absence.
"I think we've got ourselves a pretty good player, and if he keeps playing like that and getting better, he's going to help us a lot," Julien said.
It's that time of year when you find out the true value of every member of your roster. It's that time of year when every bounce, every goal and every shift counts.
And even when things aren't going your way, you need to find ways to win. Right now, that's what the Bruins are doing.