The Boston Bruins made sure that their loyal fans, who made it to the Garden in a snowstorm, were rewarded for their efforts on Thursday night. It just took the team a couple of periods to scrape the ice off of themselves and get down to work.
Brad Marchand scored the game-winning overtime goal, giving Niklas Svedberg his first win in his NHL debut, as the Bruins defeated the Nashville Predators 3-2. Svedberg, who was recalled from Providence on Thursday morning, made 33 saves in his first game in Boston. Svedberg was slated to play on December 28th in Ottawa, but two late scratches to Zdeno Chara and Carl Soderberg caused the team to send him back down to Providence before he could see any action with the big squad.
Marchand lit the lamp just 54 seconds into overtime, snapping the Bruins' brief two game losing streak. Dougie Hamilton took the puck in the Bruins end off of a faceoff win by Patrice Bergeron and worked it up ice. He fed Bergeron, who skated up the middle of the ice, passing it to Marchand when the B's entered the Nashville end. Nashville's Mike Fisher came up to Marchand to make an attempt to defend him, but Marchand slickly took the puck between Fisher's skates, moving it closer to the Predators' net. With Bergeron driving the net, Marchand was able to beat Predators' goalie Marek Mazanec with a quick wrist shot for the game winner.
Prior to the game, the Bruins got some well-deserved good news on the injury front, as both Hamilton and Carl Soderberg returned to the lineup. Hamilton had been out since December 8th with a lower-body injury, while Soderberg had missed the last two games with an undisclosed ailment. Both players contributed to goals for the Bruins, with Soderberg picking up an assist on the first goal for the B's, while Hamilton kicked off the play in overtime that gave Boston the win.
After a first period that saw seldom quality chances, the Predators opened up the scoring with just over two minutes left in the second period on a goal by Viktor Stalberg. The Bruins tried to execute a line change but was caught shorthanded up ice by Shea Weber's pass to a streaking Mike Fisher. Fisher's initial shot was stopped by Svedberg but the rebound was deflected right to Stalberg for his fifth goal of the season.
Things didn't look very promising for the Bruins after the Nashville goal, as the Predators had the best record in the league after scoring first (15-1-2). Luckily for the Bruins, who have struggled all season in the middle period, there were still 20 (plus) minutes left in this contest.
The Bruins tied the game at 1-1 with just less than five minutes gone in the third period. Ryan Spooner led the B's on a break up ice, working his way down the left side into the Predators end. Johnny Boychuk jumped in the offensive end, filling the open spot in the middle of the ice. Spooner found Boychuk for a "Johnny Rocket" past Mazanec to tie the game. It was Boychuk's second goal of the season, with Spooner and Carl Soderberg receiving assists.
The goal seemed to energize the Bruins, as the next few shifts afterwards were spent mostly in the Nashville end of the ice. The Bruins had a golden opportunity to take the lead within two minutes of Boychuk's goal, with Mazanec making a diving stop on Matt Bartkowski's shot in front of his net.
The Bruins took the lead on a brilliant play by the first line. David Krejci picked up a loose puck at mid-ice and fed Milan Lucic, who then worked his way into the Nashville end. Jarome Iginla sped to the front of the net, going outside and then inside on Predators' defenseman Roman Josi. Lucic fed Iginla directly in front of the Predators net, with Iginla tipping the puck into the net for his 13th goal of the season.
Shea Weber tied the game at 2-2 with a slap shot bomb after a scrum in front of the Bruins net. Mike Fisher's initial shot was deflected off the skate of Zdeno Chara, sending the puck to a wide open Weber, who blasted a shot past Svedberg and the resulting traffic in front of his net. The goal was Weber's 11th on the year, with Fisher picking up his second assist of the night.