Boston, MA – It appears that the Boston Bruins have a knack of surging late into their games as of recently. Against Montreal, they scored three goals in the final 20 minutes to take the win. Tuesday against the Carolina Hurricanes would be no different.
Bruins goaltender Jaroslav Halak suited up for his 500th NHL game; Halak and goal-partner Tuukka Rask are the only goalie tandem in the NHL to have reached 500 NHL games.
“It’s a really good accomplishment,” said Halak on his milestone. “I think for myself, I try to focus on what’s now. I’m part of this group, it’s a special group, and we stick to the game plan for 60 minutes.”
And sticking to the 60 minute game plan is what the Bruins did.
Just over two minutes into the opening period, Boston’s power play would get its first look of the night. Carolina forward Jake Gardner was sent off with a minor penalty for tripping.
There were plenty of opportunities for the Black and Gold; the best chance coming from forward David Pastrnak who received a pass from forward Danton Heinen. Heinen dished the pass just over the top of the crease of Carolina’s net-minder James Reimer to a waiting David Pastrnak at the lower right circle. However, Pastrnak was unable to put the puck in the net.
It was a fast start for the Bruins, as about half-way into the period, Boston outshot Carolina 6-3; three of Boston’s shots coming from forward Charlie Coyle. Those six shots also came within 2:09 of the opening period. It would take 8:16 for the Bruins to record another shot on net.
Carolina’s first power play of the game came 14:47 into the first period, as Bruins forward Jake DeBrusk was called for tripping. The Hurricanes were unable to capitalize on the man-advantage.
Both teams would see one more opportunity on the power play, but would be unable to take advantage.
Trying to shake things up a bit, head coach Bruce Cassidy shuffled the lineups with a little over two minutes remaining in the period; DeBrusk was switched with Marchand, and the two, new lines would remain that way for the remainder of the game.
It’s one of those things where I don’t think they generated much against Montreal,” said Cassidy on why he decided to make the swap. “I think Jake’s game these last four or five games has kind of recaptured where he believes he can be for us; he’s on pucks. And, with Coyle he’s a different player with Marchand over there.”
Almost immediately the switch-up seemed effective; Coyle getting a great scoring chance in front of Reimer. Forward Brad Marchand was able to keep the puck and skate into the offensive one, passing it to forward Danton Heinen who was rushing up the right side of Reimer. Heinen was unable to get a stick on the puck on time, ultimately bringing the play behind the net. He passed the puck back to a crashing Coyle, who shot it stick side of Reimer, and Reimer held onto the puck to stop the play.
The second period opened with the Bruins killing off a the remainder of a penalty as Pastrnak was called for roughing with 18:34 remaining in the first period.
Carolina had its chances early, as forward Nino Niederreiter had a great look in front of Halak. Despite a crowded crease, Niederreiter was able to slide the puck five-hole on Halak, but the puck his the left pole and bounced out. The Hurricanes would continue to make things difficult for the Bruins well past the half-way mark of the second stanza; making it hard for Boston to control the puck and make the simplest of passes.
With just over two minutes left in the period, it appeared that defenseman Jaccob Slavin had opened the scoring for Carolina, squeezing a shot past the glove-side of Halak. However after video review, it was made clear that the puck went through the side of the net.
In what was already a slow-paced game, the opening 15 minutes of the final period remained the same. Both teams had their chances, but were unable to break the stale-mate.
It would take 55:55 for a goal to be scored; Coyle opening the scoring for the Bruins and giving Boston the lead. Heinen was able to get the puck out of the defensive zone, and passed the puck to Marchand skating up the left side. Marchand then slid the puck to Coyle who was skating into the crease where Coyle was able to get the puck past Reimer’s glove side for his sixth goal of the season. Coyle is one goal shy of his 100th NHL goal.
“There’s definitely not a lot of panic,” said Heinen referring to what the mood is like on the bench going into the period these last few games either down a goal or having an even score. “We are a confident group in tight games, and we know guys can make plays at the right time.”
“That’s a good quality to have in a team,” said Coyle on his team’s ability to pull away from the opposition in the final period. “Sometimes you don’t score right away, but you try to play solid defensively. To have that come out in the third, and to have that confidence, we just stick with that process and not try to force too much.”
Less than two minutes later, forward David Krejci would give the Bruins a 2-0 lead for his 200th NHL goal. Defenseman Charlie McAvoy shot the puck from the blue line, and Krejci was able to redirect the shot over the stick side of Reimer for his sixth goal of the season, ultimately sealing the Bruins their eighth straight victory.
The Hurricanes fly back to PNC Arena to take on the San Jose Sharks this Tursday night. Meanwhile, the Bruins will be back at TD Garden to take on Chicago Blackhawks in game four of a five-game home-stand. Puck drop is scheduled for 7 p.m.