ANAHEIM, Calif. – Marty Turco didn’t belong in a suit behind an anchor desk doing analysis for the NHL Network. Nor should he have been wasting his talents overseas. He belonged back in the NHL.
Sunday night, he proved it.
Turco was the winning goalie in an NHL game for the first time in more than 13 months with the help of a disallowed goal that would have tied it, and the Boston Bruins got second-period goals from Zdeno Chara and Benoit Pouliot less than 1 1/2 minutes apart to beat Anaheim 3-2.
“It feels good,” Turco said. “Probably the first thing out of my mouth after the game was: ‘It’s been a long time.’ I wouldn’t call it a relief, but a little more emotion that was pouring out of me after the game than while I was playing. I think after the last 13 months, it’s good to get one to go your way. But right now I’m back in the NHL, and it’s a special place to be. I’m pretty fortunate.”
The 36-year-old Turco, a 10-year veteran and three-time All-Star who spent part of this season playing in Austria, signed with the defending Stanley Cup champions on March 5 after an injury to backup Tuukka Rask. But Turco isn’t eligible for the playoffs because he was signed after the Feb. 27 trade deadline.
“I didn’t know if I’d ever be back in the NHL. But I could honestly say that if it was the end, I didn’t have many regrets,” he said. “I laid my heart out on the table for my teammates and for this game for a long time. That’s the way I play. I had a good run. But, as I’ve said, I went to bed a hockey player and I woke up still a hockey player. So I wanted to stay ready in case I got the call.
“I skated every day at home and had a great chance to go overseas. So I just kept the door open. It’s been was an interesting year, and I owe a big debt of gratitude to the Bruins. This is still a huge opportunity for me, even though I can’t be on the playoff roster.”
Turco led the NHL in goals-against average and save percentage in two of his first three NHL seasons with the Dallas Stars. In his third game with the Bruins, he went the distance for the first time and made 25 saves for his first win since Feb. 1, 2011, when he stopped 29 shots in Chicago’s 7-4 victory at Columbus. It was his 25th career win against Anaheim, one behind Evgeni Nabokov for the most against the Ducks.
Turco played the final two periods of Boston’s 5-2 loss at Pittsburgh after relieving Tim Thomas. Two nights later, Turco started at Tampa Bay and was pulled after giving up three goals on 12 shots in the first 4 1/2 minutes—but returned early in the second period after Thomas gave up two more goals.
“When I first got here, this team wasn’t firing on all cylinders,” Turco said. “But now the guys are playing like they can and imposing their will. Defence is what makes this team tick, and this team’s defence comes with attitude. So it is a real treat having these guys in front of me. It was a desperation game—a lot of guys paying the price and battling. It’s a pretty amazing group.”
Anaheim’s Matt Beleskey beat Turco to the stick side with a wrist shot just inside the left post at 7:22 of the third period, but teammate Andrew Cogliano had both feet in the crease and was pressed up against Turco when the puck went in. NHL officials in Toronto examined replays and ruled no goal—infuriating Ducks coach Bruce Boudreau, who had more than a few choice words for referee Rob Martel.
“I didn’t really give him much of a chance to say too much. I was ready to hit him,” the 57-year-old Boudreau said. “I give up trying to figure these guys out. What do you want me to say? It was a (bad) call. There was no explanation given to me. None. It cost us the game. Sure they got another goal—but, I mean, we would have played completely different if it was a 2-2 tie with 10 minutes to go.”
Brian Rolston then gave Boston a 3-1 lead, finishing off a 2-on-1 break with Chris Kelly by beating Jonas Hiller with a one-timer from the right circle with 6:54 to play. Anaheim’s Lubomir Visnovsky completed the scoring with 2:29 left.
Kelly had two assists for the Northeast Division-leading Bruins, who hold down the second seed in the Eastern Conference playoff picture by four points over Florida.
Teemu Selanne scored a power-play goal for Anaheim and Hiller made 22 saves in his 69th start and appearance, breaking Guy Hebert’s 1998-99 single-season franchise record for goaltenders in both categories.
Chara opened the scoring at 4:37 of the second with his 12th goal of the season.
The Bruins, 15-0 when scoring the game’s first two goals, made it 2-0 when Kelly carried the puck into the Ducks’ zone, faked a slap shot and quickly slid it over to Pouliot, who used Visnovsky as a screen and beat Hiller to the stick side with a 40-foot wrist shot for his 13th goal.
Boston’s Adam McQuaid got a holding penalty 9 minutes into the period, giving the Ducks the opening they needed to get back into the game. They cashed in 11 seconds later when Selanne redirected Cam Fowler’s slap shot from the top of the left circle past Turco’s glove for his 661st goal and 248th on the power play.
Notes: The Ducks are 11-28-2 with two ties against teams who were defending a Stanley Cup title. … This was the first time Turco played in an NHL game from start to finish since Feb. 11, 2011, when he and the Blackhawks lost to Dallas in a shootout.