Saturday Night Special

by | Jan 21, 2024

Saturday Night Special

by | Jan 21, 2024

Saturday night at TD Garden in Boston was a special night in numerous ways. The Boston Bruins were honoring their 1987-88 team that ended a pathetic 45-year playoff hex at the hands of the Montreal Canadiens as part of their Centennial Season celebrations. They also demolished their heated rivals 9-4 to win their fourth straight and improve to 28-8-9 on the season, suitable for second-best overall and first in the Eastern Conference.

While Bruins superstars David Pastrnak and Brad Marchand hit the 30 and 20 goal plateaus, respectively, Danton Heinen’s scoring brought down the house. Heinen notched his first NHL hat-trick after scoring a goal during the Bruins lopsided rout in each period.

“I’m not going to lie it felt good,” said Heinen of the three-goal performance. “It hasn’t been going in lately so it feels good to see it go in. Just contributing to the win is good.”

“He hasn’t been scoring. I actually talked to him, I guess yesterday (Friday), about it. Like, you got to keep getting to those areas,” said Head Coach Jim Montgomery post-game. “He (has) the fifth-most scoring chances, five-on-five, on our team, the way we track it. So he’s doing a lot of good things, but he’s not burying them. And I could sense the frustration. So it was nice for him to get it.”

The 6′-2″ Langley, British Columbia native has an 8G – 9A = 17pt., +11 stat line through 37 games this season with the Bruins, his second tour with the club that drafted him in the 4th Round (116th overall) in 2014.

Heinen was traded to the Anaheim Ducks during the 2019-20 season after helping the Bruins to Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Finals the previous season. The road back to Boston has been challenging for the 28-year-old forward.

His stint in Anaheim was a season and change after the COVID year. He had ten goals and eight assists in 52 regular season games with the Ducks. He followed that up with a two-year stop in Pittsburgh with the Penguins. In his first season, he tallied a career-high 18 goals with 15 assists. The second year wasn’t as productive; he went 8 – 14 – 22 in 65 games last year, leading to the Penguins not offering him a contract for this year.

Heinen’s phone didn’t ring over the offseason until the Bruins invited him to camp on a PTO offer. He made the squad in late October when he put pen to paper and signed for a one-year deal at $775,000.

“You’d like to say no,” said Heinen when asked if his confidence took a hit over the summer. “I don’t think I ever lost the belief in myself. Just going through that, it’s not fun. But I like to look forward and not look back. I’m just trying to get better and help the team.”

“(Saturday) was unbelievable,” said Charlie Coyle. “Everyone’s so happy for him. And I think that says a lot when you see the reactions of your teammates with certain guys when they do well and have success and your teammates are pretty pumped about it. It says a lot about the person.”

“We’re all so happy for him,” Coyle added. “And enough can’t be said about how he’s come into this season, what he’s done, and just the team guy he’s been all the way through. He deserved tonight.”

Heinen gave the Bruins their first lead of Saturday night late in the opening period when he redirected a Matt Grzelcyk shot/pass past Canadiens goalie Sam Montembeault.
His second goal of the night broke a 3-3 tie halfway through the second period; it was also the prettiest of the trio. Heinen raced into the Montreal zone on a two-on-one with Matthew Poitras and ripped off a snapshot high, blocker-side on Montembeault.

The finishing touch came at 10:40 of the third with the Bruins on the power play. Heinen buried a Pavel Zacha pass from below the goal line past Cayden Primeau, who relieved Montembeault at the left post to kick off the hat shower at the Garden.

“That’s one thing about the Bruins is how unselfish the group is,” said Montgomery. “I’ve said it so many times. It’s amazing how everybody cares about everybody else. They continuously went down low to try to get it to Heinen. It was nice. I’m happy for him.”

The Bruins have a custom of picking out one of the hats thrown to the ice after a hat-trick celebration. Marchand has picked out a sombrero in the past, and Pastrnak recently scored a black Stetson. The lid of choice for the soft-spoken Heinen? A retro Bruins baseball hat.

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