The Boston Bruins needed a game in their opening-round series to find their mojo, and three games to get going against the rival Montreal Canadiens.
The Bruins followed up their timely shutout overtime victory against the Canadiens in Game 4 with a top-to-bottom dominant performance in a 4-2 win at home to take a 3-2 series lead on Saturday evening.
Boston was physical, enjoyed a balanced attack up front, saw stingy play from their defence, finally checked in with the first goal, and finally saw the power-play unit click in Game 5.
It was an impressive effort from the 2010-11 Stanley Cup champions.
The only criticism for the Bruins was the bush-league move near the end of the game from fourth-liner Shawn Thornton, who squirted water from the bench at Montreal defenceman P.K. Subban. I wouldn't be surprised to see Thornton fined for his interference.
Subban said afterwards that he was sprayed twice on his visor and that it obstructed his view as he skated by the Bruins bench.
"I was pretty upset about that," Subban said. "I'm sure if I did it, it would be a big story for the next three days.
"But they beat us. I don't want to take anything away from their win."
So how have the Bruins turned around their second-round series with back-to-back wins? It would be too easy to say the difference has been the play from the Bruins third line of 28-year-old rookie Carl Soderberg and his wingers, Loui Eriksson and Matt Fraser.
The trio has combined to score three of Boston's last five goals, including Fraser's overtime winner on Thursday. Yes, they have come together at the right time to aid the Bruins' cause and like Boston head coach Claude Julien said after the game, their production has taken the pressure off his top-two lines.
But the balanced attack is part of what makes Boston such a force.
It starts with Bergeron
When you look for reasons why the Bruins have been so good for so long you have to start with Patrice Bergeron. He's an incredibly responsible player.
A lot has been made of the lack of production from the Canadiens top line of David Desharnais, Max Pacioretty and Brendan Gallagher in 5-on-5 play. Bergeron's checking is a big reason. Although Pacioretty didn't do himself any favours when he fired wide on an open net in the second period.
"They have to be better five-on-five," said a terse Montreal coach Michel Therrien in his post-game remarks.
Bergeron has been so diligent in his defence and sets the mood for his teammates with his work ethic in his own end, the neutral zone and at the face-off dot. He hasn't been as effective on the penalty kill, but where would the Canadiens be in this series without Subban and the power-play unit that has scored six of the team's 13 goals on the power play?
"We started focusing on ourselves and the way we needed to play," said Bruins left wing Milan Lucic, when asked about his team's improved play in the last two games.
"We played to win and not to lose. That change in our mindset has been the difference for us."
It didn't hurt the Bruins' cause that their power-play unit finally struck for its first two goals of the series 32 seconds apart early in the second period with one of Montreal's top penalty killers, centre Tomas Plekanec, in the penalty box on both occasions.
Julien remarked after his team's win in Montreal on Thursday that his team had played nowhere near its best yet. The Bruins are on their way.
Now it's up to the Canadiens to answer in Game 6 on Monday night (CBC, CBCSports, 7:30 p.m. ET).
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