BOSTON — With Nathan Horton home and out of action the remainder of the postseason recovering from a Game 3 concussion, Boston coach Claude Julien was forced to revamp a couple of lines in last night's crucial fourth game.
It didn't take long for Julien to look like a genius as the new alignments first put the Bruins ahead before securing the series-tying 4-0 victory before a packed and rowdy TD Garden crowd.
Rich Peverley was the guy who replaced Horton, joining center David Krejci and left winger Milan Lucic. A mid-season acquisition via trade the Bruins made to clear the needed salary-cap space to acquire Tomas Kaberle from Toronto, Peverley fit right in with his new linemates despite limited practice time.
"I found out just before (game) warmups," said Peverley, who joined the Bruins Feb. 18 in a four-player trade with the Thrashers. "I had no idea who was going in there whether it was me or (Michael Ryder). I know Ryder's taken a lot of shifts with them."
The five-year veteran gave Boston the lead it never relinquished with 8:01 left in the opening period after taking a slick pass from Krejci, splitting defenders at the blue line and streaking down the slot for a goal that found goalie Roberto Luongo's five hole.
"It was a nice play," Peverley said of his third career playoff goal. "I just tried to give Krejci some speed."
Early in the third period Peverley sent Luongo to the bench with Boston's fourth score of the night. This one was set up by Lucic who outmaneuvered Kevin Bieksa along the boards and hit Peverly with a centering pass that hit Luongo's stick before Peverley slammed it home. Krejci also earned his 11th assist of the postseason on the play.
Boston grabbed a 2-0 lead behind the new-look fourth line of center Chris Kelly and wingers Ryder and Tyler Seguin, who returned to action following a one-game layoff by taking Peverley's old spot. Seguin hit Ryder with a slick diagonal pass through the neutral zone, which Ryder turned into a shot from the top of the left circle that Luongo whiffed on with his glove. It was Ryder's seventh goal and 15th point of the playoffs.
Thomas takes on Vancouver villan
It took a few games, but a Bruin finally managed a little retaliation against Canuck winger Alexandre Burrows, who bit Patrice Bergeron's finger in Game 1.
With 1:51 left in the game and action in front of Thomas, Burrows knocked the stick out of Thomas' grip. The Boston goalie went after the Vancouver winger, but the scuffle quickly was broken up.
He might not have landed a solid blow on Burrows, who scored twice in Vancouver's Game 2 victory including the overtime game winner, but Thomas once again put the clamps on the Canuck offense.
While the B's were scoring three times on their first 14 shots of the night, Thomas denied everything that came his way as Vancouver had 22 shots during the same time frame.
Posting his third shutout of the playoffs, Thomas made good on all 38 of the shots he faced.
It was Boston's first Stanley Cup shutout since Gary Cheevers stymied in a 4-0 Game 3 victory over Montreal, which went on to defeat the B's in six games.
The Boston goalie has stopped 701 of the 749 shots during the postseason
Julien climbs to top
The Boston coach has joined the franchise elites with this year's postseason run.
Last night's victory was the 14th in 22 playoff matches, surpassing the club's one-year win total set by Mike Milbury, who's squad went 13-8 in 1990.
The series-tying win also put Julien in a tie for career playoffs victories with the legendary Don Cherry, who was 31-24 during his five years from 1974-75 to 1978-79. Julien, who has led the B's to three playoff appearances in his four years at the helm, is now 31-20.
Sign of the night
One of the funniest placards seen in the crowd was one that read "I was here the lights went out in 1989," a reference to the Stanley Cup match between Boston and Edmonton that was suspended because of the outage.
In yesterday's pregame press conference, Julien was asked "Might you be able to share some insight on how you're going to fill Horton's spot?" The Boston coach smiled but replied curtly "I may not."
David Krejci, who centers the line Horton played on and includes Milan Lucic, was no more candid when asked: "Like I said, you (reporters) don't know who I am going to play with. I know that but I am not going to say."
Boston's pregame skate did include rookie winger Jordan Caron, who played in 23 regular-season games but none since Feb. 13.
Although excited for his opportunity to practice, Caron did not suit up with the B's.
By the Numbers
7 — playoff series wins when trailing 2-1, including a seven-game series win against Montreal in this year's first round.
7.1 — percent (17:07) of the total 240:11 played through four games that Vancouver has held a lead.
15 — victories in 29 Game 4 matches when Boston trailed 2-1.
22 — playoff games this post season, matching the franchise record set in 1988, when the Bruins went 12-10, losing to Edmonton in a four-game sweep in the finals.
27 — finals games won by home teams in 35 Stanley Cup matches since 2006.