BOSTON – The Boston Bruins’ unprecedented collapse in last year’s Stanley Cup playoffs left their fans hungry, not angry.
Ryan Spooner scored his second goal at 4:21 of overtime to give the Bruins rookies a 2-1 victory over the New York Islanders rookies on Thursday night, pleasing an enthusiastic crowd eager for hockey to return.
Michael Hutchinson stopped 33 shots for Boston. Kevin Poulin made 31 saves, and Tony Romano scored for the Islanders.
Tyler Seguin, the No. 2 overall pick in this year’s NHL draft, was scoreless. Seguin had a pair of assists, and Jordan Caron had a hat trick in Boston’s 5-2 win on Wednesday.
An announced crowd of 14,180—good for a two-game total of 25,651—came to see Seguin’s first appearances in a Bruins sweater and got Spooner’s stickwork as a bonus. A second-round pick in this year’s draft, Spooner scored in the second period to tie it and again in OT—both times on passes from 2008 second-rounder Max Sauve.
“You can see the skill,” Bruins general manager Peter Chiarelli said.
The Bruins were up 3-0 in the Eastern Conference semifinals last spring before the Philadelphia Flyers came back to force a decisive seventh game. In Game 7, Boston led 3-0 before blowing that lead and the series.
But if the Bruins fans are bitter—and with 38 years of practice since the team’s last Stanley Cup title, who could blame them—they didn’t take it out on the youngsters. Chanting “Let’s Go Bruins!”—without prodding from the scoreboard or public address system—they rose to their feet during several, spirited fights and again for the game-winning goal.
“This is the biggest crowd I’ve ever played in front of,” Spooner said. “The first game it was a little bit nerve-wracking, but I got used to it as the game went on.”
Tickets were US$5 apiece, free for season ticket-holders. Although the actual attendance was far lower than the announced one—half of the upper deck was closed off, and less than half of the other seats in the upper bowl were occupied—it was an encouraging crowd for a hockey game that’s going against the baseball and football seasons.
“Having 14,000 fans is phenomenal. It just shows you the support the Bruins have,” defenceman Steve Kampfer said. “They’re excited to see what’s in store for the team, and we’re excited to show them what we can bring.”