Persistence pays off for Boston Bruins center Tyler Seguin

April 22, 2012

Time and again during this white-knuckle playoff series, Boston Bruins center Tyler Seguin had put himself in position to score, only to have Washington Capitals goalie Braden Holtby intervene with an improbable save.

Patience understandably was beginning to fray, and yet Seguin continued to fire one shot after the other, figuring obstinance eventually would yield his elusive first goal.

That’s precisely how circumstances unfolded for Seguin, whose winner that kept Boston alive, 4-3, on Sunday came 3 minutes 17 seconds into overtime in Game 6 before a stunned crowd at Verizon Center.

“I thought he was skating extremely well tonight,” Bruins Coach Claude Julien said of his leading scorer during the regular season. “He used his speed, had a chance early in the game, to me it was fitting for him to get that goal.”

Seguin became the benefactor shortly after Capitals center Nicklas Backstrom turned over the puck while trying to clear from deep in his end. Boston counterpart David Krejci got in the path of the long pass at center ice and flipped the puck to Milan Lucic along the left wall as Seguin rushed toward Holtby.

Lucic zipped a pass to Seguin across the ice, and the second-year player drew Holtby out before releasing the shot around the sprawling goalie. Krejci was the first to embrace Seguin, and the rest of his teammates came over soon after to join the celebration they all said was a long time coming.

“We’re really happy for him,” Bruins forward Rich Peverley said. “He works really hard, and he’s got a great amount of talent, and he showed it there.”

Several times during the series, it appeared Seguin would break through until Holtby had other ideas. Seguin, for instance, had a rebound off Lucic’s shot come right to him steps from the crease in Saturday’s Game 5 and, for an instant, had an empty net at which to shoot.

But Holtby stretched his right leg out to thwart Seguin’s point-blank offering, and the Capitals went on to triumph, 4-3, and send the series back to the nation’s capital. That save was just another in the timeline of frustration for Seguin, whose 20 shots over the first five games of the series were most for any player on either team.

Confounding as well was the inescapable fact that other Bruins players who barely found their way into the scoring register during the regular season had a goal in this series. Take left wing Daniel Paille, who had all of nine goals in the regular season.

Or defenseman Johnny Boychuk, whose five regular season goals even multiplied five times fell well short of Seguin’s total.

Still Seguin never relented, instead remaining steady on defense and trying to get teammates involved. Those directives were evident when a defensive play allowed Seguin to set up Andrew Ference for a goal in the third period that gave the Bruins a brief 3-2 lead.

“The word I’d use is just about being more determined,” said Seguin, 20, who emerged from the dressing room wearing the thick chain-link necklace presented following each playoff victory to the most deserving Bruins player. “I think obviously you’re not going to get bounces every game, and I still want to do the little things right. I still want to be good in my D zone and still create opportunities. I’m glad I got rewarded.”

Gene Wang is a sports reporter covering multiple beats, including Navy football, the Capitals, Wizards, Nationals, women’s basketball, auto racing, boxing and golf. He also covers Fantasy Football.
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