The Boston Bruins won in overtime. Yes, you read that right.
Tuukka Rask made 35 saves and Patrice Bergeron capped off a gritty Bruins win when he scored 1:33 into the extra frame for a 3-2 win on Saturday at the Barclays Center. It was the Bruins first overtime win since Nov. 29. Jake DeBrusk and John Moore also lit the lamp for the Bruins, which have won three straight games. The Bruins will now head to Philadelphia to play the Flyers on Monday and then to Columbus in the final game of their three-game roadie.
BHN Five Takeaways:
Tuukka In Playoff Form
Two weeks ago when Rask was selected to his second All-Star game, some on Bruins social media and in online chat rooms actually suggested that Jaro Halak should be headed to the NHL All-Star game in St. Louis later this month, instead. Until his last three games, there’s no argument that Halak has been not just a backup goalie but a 1A. However, just as he did throughout the Bruins’ 2019 run to the Stanley Cup Final, Rask has been in Vezina/Conn Smythe form. Almost every start he’s made, he’s given his team a chance to win and on more than a few occasions, he’s stolen wins for the Bruins. That was the case Saturday night in Brooklyn as Rask, as far as we know, escaped the Barclays Center without being charged for Grand Larceny after he made 35 saves and once again put his team in position to win.
Rask stopped 13 of 14 shots in the opening stanza as the Bruins found themselves under siege from the usually conservative Islanders. His brilliance didn’t stop in the first period though as he stopped Islanders forward Anthony Beauvallier on a breakaway early in the second period to keep the game at 1-0. He would deny a 2-on-1 later in the middle frame and again in the third period. The Isles got off 13 danger shots on Rask and he gobbled up 12 of them. The Bruins don’t even sniff the third period tied at one, let alone overtime, without Rask.
McAvoy and Carlo pick up the slack
The Bruins got Zdeno Chara back Saturday after he missed his team’s 5-4 win over the Winnipeg Jets Thursday with an infected jaw but then lost fellow defenseman Matt Grzelcyk midway through the first period after he was slashed by Islanders forward Derick Brassard in the back of his right leg. Instead of making his captain rack up extra minutes or even play his normal minutes, Bruins head coach Bruce Cassidy turned to what the Bruins hope are the two future pillars of their blue line, Charlie McAvoy and Brandon Carlo.
Over the last eleven games heading into Saturday, McAvoy averaged 24:54 TOI. While McAvoy was yet to score a goal in 42 games this season, he does have 15 assists, including one helper in each of his last three games. No one will argue that the Bruins would love for McAvoy to finally light the lamp and do so more often but anyone that has actually watched the 22-year-old rearguard closely can tell you that his defensive game has compensated for the fact he’s yet to score a goal this season. The goalless drought didn’t end Saturday night in Brooklyn but McAvoy was an absolute beast on the blue line.
Playing in front of plenty of family and friends from his hometown and nearby Long Beach, NY, the Bruins’ 2014 first-round pick (14th overall), had a game-high 28:43 TOI and led all skaters with four blocked shots. While Rask was in the zone, McAvoy was doing his best to help, including a masterful read to break up an Islanders’ 2-on-1 seven minutes into the middle frame.
Meanwhile, Carlo continues to be the new Bruins minutes eater. The 6-foot-5, 223-pound rearguard keeps showing that when Chara finally hangs him up, he will be the Bruins best shutdown D-man. He played 26:03 Saturday and had two blocked shots. He is a constant presence in front of the net and even along the boards up high challenging opponents.
DeBrusk Finding Consistency
Since being benched for much of the Bruins’ 4-1 loss to the Edmonton Oilers a week ago, and called out by Cassidy after, DeBrusk has responded in a big way. He had two goals – including the game-winner – and an assist in the win Thursday, and on Saturday he tied the game at one with his 14th goal of the season 8:33 into the second period. When asked Thursday what DeBrusk needed to be more consistent, Cassidy joked that he may need to keep benching and calling him out. By the looks of his game in Brooklyn though, DeBrusk may finally be finding the level of hustle and drive that the Bruins need from him every game. He has three goals and two assists in his last three games and seems zeroed in.
Power Play Keeps Rolling
Bergeron’s OT winner and 19th goal of the season not only gave the Bruins their first win past 60 minutes in six tries, but also extended their goal-scoring streak on the man advantage to a team record 13 straight games. With Bergeron, Brad Marchand and the NHL’s leading goal scorer, David Pastrnak, the Bruins have been hovering around the top of the pack in powerplay percentage all season, but to light the lamp 13 straight times is scary good.
The Bruins won the Stanley Cup in 2011 with literally the worst powerplay that season and maybe ever so it’s not the end-all, be-all when it comes to that, but if they continue at this rate and carry it into the postseason, it surely won’t hurt.
No More Settling
As the Bruins slumbered through December but somehow stayed far ahead of the pack in the Atlantic Division thanks to a roaring start, they appeared to constantly settle for just a point when the game went past 60 minutes. Well, just over a week ago, they woke up to find their lead over the Tampa Bay Lightning and Toronto Maple Leafs shrinking as their two rivals caught fire over the last month. The Lightning actually won their 10th straight game Saturday night, but thanks to the Bruins finally grabbing that extra point in overtime or a shootout, they maintained a seven-point lead over the Bolts and padded their lead to 11 points over idle Toronto.
Yes, there’s no shootout or 3-on-3 overtime in the playoffs but if the Bruins want to be playing on home ice for the whole postseason or at least a good portion, they need to start grabbing the second point