BOSTON — It was more than fitting that in the Bruins’ first home playoff game of the spring of 2010 Patrice Bergeron scored the game-winning goal.
No skater in black and gold gave more effort and improved more over the course of an inconsistent season by Boston than the veteran center, who’s not just recovered from his 2008 Grade 3 concussion but starting to play light years better than he did even before the injury.
“We’ve said so much about Patrice so far this year because he’s been probably our most consistent and best forward,” head coach Claude Julien said after Bergeron’s first goal of the postseason earned the Bruins a 2-1 win in Game and a 2-1 series lead in their Eastern Conference quarterfinal series with Buffalo tonight.
“I think he had about five shots on net tonight and it just goes to show you that he’s a determined individual. Not only does he want to defend and wants to play against the best lines every night, he also wants to [help] us at the other end.”
With the defensive part of his game done — Bergeron and linemates Mark Recchi and Milan Lucic slowed Derek Roy’s line to almost a standstill all evening — Bergeron stepped up to cash in after Recchi made an atypical gritty play in the corner of the Buffalo zone.
After Recchi won the battle for a Bergeron dump-in, the 42-year-old threw the puck to the slot, where he knew Bergeron would be waiting. Bergeron buried a one-timer past Ryan Miller at the 12:57 mark.
“It didn’t stay on my stick for long,” Bergeron quipped. “[My thought] was just to put it on net. He’s an awesome goalie and I just tried to one-time it … to try to take the time away and surprise him.”
Here’s the video of the goal:
Bergeron and Recchi have been linemates practically from the time Recchi arrived in March 2009 in a trade with Tampa Bay. The two have developed a chemistry at both ends of the rinks that resonates with the entire roster. And that sixth sense between the two paid off at both ends of the rink in a pivotal victory.
In describing Bergeron after the game, Recchi started to classify his linemate as “unsung” until he remembered that Bergeron spent part of February skating for Team Canada at the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver. That’s when Recchi realized “The important people realize it.”
Even more people will learn to appreciate Bergeron if he keeps up his rapport with Recchi and continues to provide the Bruins with postseason heroics.