BOSTON – Patrice Bergeron knew exactly what he didn’t want to happen after he jumped on the ice to replace goaltender Tuukka Rask during a delayed penalty against Carolina Saturday afternoon and saw Blake Wheeler’s pass sliding down the ice toward the vacated Bruins net.
“There’s those ‘not Top 10 plays’ on ESPN. I just didn’t want to be on there,” said Bergeron, repeating what he told NESN reporter Naoko Funayama after the Bruins hung on for a playoff-clinching 4-2 win over the Hurricanes.
Boston was leading 3-2 early in the third period when Jerome Samson was called for slashing deep in the Hurricanes end. When Wheeler’s pass attempt from the left corner eluded Michael Ryder, it went off the sidewall and headed for open ice. Wheeler said he was caught flat-footed and could do little but watch and hope.
“That was crazy. I didn’t even know there was a delayed call,” said Wheeler, who earlier had ended a 12-game goal drought with a score into the Hurricanes’ net. “I tried to pass it to Rides and all of a sudden I see the puck going to an empty net and I just started shaking my head. I was like ‘here we go, this is how the season’s gone.’
“It was great. I think everyone, even Bergy, was a bit shocked to see the puck sliding toward the net. He got on his horse and made a heck of a play. Those are the sort of plays that save games and thank God he was Johnny on the spot, I guess.”
Bergeron said he didn’t think he would’ve gotten to the puck in time if he had dove. So all he could do was skate all out and then scoop it out of the painted area before it crossed the goal line. A video review proved what everyone in the building already knew, that Bergeron had saved the day.
“As soon as I got it, I knew it wasn’t in, but I knew they were going to go upstairs because it was pretty close,” said Bergeron.