After blowing a three-goal lead for the second time in four games in a 3-2 loss to the Penguins in Pittsburgh Sunday, the Boston Bruins made sure to put that memory behind them and head into their nine-day break on a high note. Jake DeBrusk tied the game at two 4:26 into the third period and David Krejci scored the eventual game-winner at 12:18 as the Bruins came back to beat the Vegas Golden Knights Tuesday night at TD Garden.
The Bruins (29-10-12, 70 points), now head into the All-Star break and their bye week trailing the Washington Capitals (33-11-5, 71 points) by a point for the best record in the Eastern Conference and the NHL. They also now lead the red-hot Tampa Bay Lightning (29-15-4, 62 points) by eight points in the Atlantic Division with 31 games to go in the regular season.
Here’s your BHN Five Takeaways from a big bounceback win for the Bruins:
Bruins Answer The Bell Again
While they don’t want to keep having to answer it, the Bruins once again answered the bell after a loss in which they blew a lead of two goals of more. They are now 4-1-1 in such games and have shown a tendency to learn from their mistakes. It was interesting to see the Bruins call a timeout up a goal with 32 seconds left. That’s not to say that’s an unusual move by an NHL head coach but it’s not one Bruins bench boss Bruce Cassidy has used often this season and it was clear he and his team knew how much a win after blowing a three-goal lead at Pittsburgh Sunday and losing 3-2 to the Penguins meant heading into the break.
“Good pros. Doesn’t surprise me,” Cassidy said. “Our guys are good that way, and I think the way we finished in Pittsburgh probably gave us a bit more focus. Who knows, if that had been a clean game and we just, you know, ran it, and like we did the other night, play solid from start to finish, who knows? Maybe they would’ve started to wander because there is a little content. So, I think it was two things: A, those guys are professional in there. I thought yesterday’s practice was hard and good and good compete, so they understood that we’re not going to ride it into the streak; every game is important, and again, the Pittsburgh result probably didn’t sit that well with some guys, and typically when that happens, the next game, you’re ready to go, and I thought we were in the first, ready to play.”
Krejci Gametime Decision And Game-winner
After missing the last two games with an upper-body injury, Krejci and the Bruins weren’t sure the veteran center would be able to play Tuesday night. Krejci took warmups though, felt good enough to go and didn’t miss a beat. Cassidy slotted Krejci in between Karson Kuhlman and Danton Heinen on the third line but it didn’t matter as the 33-year-old pivot adapted just fine. Not only did Krejci score the game-winner on his first shot, but he also assisted on the Bruins’ first goal by Jeremy Lauzon at 11:40 of the opening frame. Krejci finished the game with a goal and an assist in 18:04 on 21 shifts. He now has three goals and an assist in his last three games and enters the break with 12 lamplighters and 22 helpers in 42 games. Krejci was happy he was not only able to score the game-winner but also not let any more rust set in over the break had he missed three straight games heading in.
“As a player you always want to play and I felt pretty good yesterday and this morning so I wanted to be out there,” he said. “We made the decision and I’m glad we did that.”
Krejci was also pretty impressed with his new and likely temporary linemates.
“They’re very smart,” he said of Kuhlman and Heinen. “It’s fun to play with smart guys. They make plays, it doesn’t work all the time but the effort is always there.”
Snipe City For DeBrusk
When DeBrusk gets his feet going and can get a shot off in stride, he has one of the most dangerous shots on the team and maybe top 15 at least among NHL wingers. With his goal Tuesday, DeBrusk now enters the break halfway to the 30-goal plateau in 45 games. There’s no doubt if he can find more consistency, goals like the one he scored to tie the game Tuesday night will become more frequent and the 23-year-old winger could be a 30-goal scorer this season and likely for years to come.
— Boston Bruins (@NHLBruins) January 22, 2020
As Cassidy pointed out after the game, that was a DeBrusk type of goal and even if that shot doesn’t go in, it’s got a good chance to produce a rebound chance.
“That’s his kind of goal, he can separate and shoot in stride and shoot it past a goalie,” Cassidy said. “What happened in the second period there, looked like there was a few net-front opportunities for three or four guys who weren’t able to finish. We talked about that between periods, you will get some rebounds from [Marc-Andre] Fleury, and you’ve got to work to get inside and [David] Krejci gets one going there, and I think [Anton] Blidh had a chance and a few others. Eventually, we stuck with it. But good for Jake, that got everyone excited and that’s something he can bring and has been of late.”
Halak Needs To Be Better
While he did stand tall between the pipes in the third period, stopping all 13 Knights shots, Bruins goalie Jaro Halak will likely take some time when he returns from the break to watch some film and specifically how many he’s let in blocker and short side in his last five starts. This puck scribe has counted four now after Knights sniper Mark Stone beat him there 1:24 into regulation. That hasn’t been Halak’s only issue though as he has struggled and been wildly inconsistent going 2-2-1 over his last five games and letting in three or more goals in three of those games.
— NHL (@NHL) January 22, 2020
If only Lauzon could play the Vegas Golden Knights every time he’s called up. In his first game last season Lauzon scored his only other NHL goal as well. The 6-foot-1, 201-pound rearguard now has two goals in 18 NHL games and looked very comfortable on the Bruins third defensive pairing with Matt Grzelcyk. Lauzon finished a plus 2 in 22 shifts and 15:38 TOI.
“I thought he played hard, competes all over the ice,” Cassidy said. “We’ve seen that before, so we expected that. Scores a goal — obviously, in a one-goal game, that matters. And did it in the right way, didn’t overthink it. Just got it, got off the wall, make sure you pound it hard so it gets by the first layer. If it gets blocked closer to the net, at least it’s not going to be a quick transition.
We’ve been trying to instill that attitude in some of our other guys and Brandon [Carlo] gets one later and gets it through, so hopefully it kind of snowballs, that part of our game. But all-in-all had good composure, didn’t seem fazed by anything. We’ll always go back and look at it, there will be some details that we’ll talk about, but I liked his game. I thought he brought what we needed.”