After one of the Boston Bruins’ weakest and most flat performances in months, the B’s were looking to bounce back against a New Jersey Devils team who were destroyed 6-1 by the Columbus Blue Jackets on Saturday night.
Sunday night sure wasn’t pretty, and it wasn’t really a step in the right direction, but somehow the Bruins still left Jersey with two points in a wild 5-3 victory. Boston more closely resembled the team that hovered around .500 for the first two months of the season during this game, but still were able to extend their road point streak to 13 games (11-0-2) with the win.
Here are six Extra Beats in Boston’s crazy victory, which puts them back to three points behind the Tampa Bay Lightning in the Atlantic Division standings:
- Anton Khudobin “saved” the day for Boston.
Khudobin was the lone reason that the Bruins had a chance in this contest, as he made several key saves early in the contest. The B’s looked disjointed and gave up several uncontested chances in the first period, which required Khudobin to stand on his head from the moment the game began. Within the first five minutes, the Bruins’ backup goalie made two huge saves – one on a breakaway attempt by Taylor Hall, and then after a turnover deep in the B’s zone he made a flashy glove save on Miles Wood. The third time was not a charm for the Devils, as Khudobin stoned Travis Zajac on a penalty shot six minutes in after a brutal hooking call early on Boston’s first power play chance. Although he allowed a goal late in the first, the Bruins could have been behind by two or three goals at the minimum if not for some dazzling saves from Khudobin. He continued to rob the Devils throughout the contest, making 35 saves for his 12th win of the season.
- A little puck luck never hurt anyone (except for the Devils).
Some goals, like Tim Schaller’s gem last Wednesday night against the Rangers, are things of beauty. The game-winning goal from Adam McQuaid wasn’t the prettiest – in fact I’m still not sure how it went in the net – but it got the job done and gave the B’s a well-needed win. McQuaid capped a great shift from David Backes and Riley Nash by blasting a “tumbling muffin” – credit to NESN’s Jack Edwards for that line – from the blue line that deflected off Drew Stafford’s stick, then off the ice, then off the post and into the net.
— Boston Bruins (@NHLBruins) February 12, 2018
It was McQuaid’s first tally in nearly one full calendar year, and the third goal of the night from a Bruins’ defenseman – Torey Krug had the other two. McQuaid ended his great third period by defending Brad Marchand after a crushing open-ice hit on the B’s empty-netter that clinched the win. That final goal didn’t need much luck, but Quaider’s first of the season definitely was more luck than beauty.
- Torey Krug proved his worth on both sides of the Bruins’ special teams units.
Krug was an even-strength goal away from having the rarest of hat tricks, as he scored a shorthanded goal in the first and a power play goal in the second period. Speaking of puck luck, Krug got a little himself on the shorthanded tally, as his shot went off the stick of Devils’ rookie Nico Hischier, but it was the hustle and determination of both the B’s defenseman and Brad Marchand that led to the lucky deflection and goal. There was no luck on Krug’s second tally, as he rifled a one-timer past goalie Eddie Lack to give the B’s the lead for the third time in the game. Krug now has 10 goals and 25 assists this season, with three goals and 10 assists coming on the power play. The shorty was his first of the year and was his first point on the penalty kill in his seven-year career. After a slow start, Krug has proven that he deserves ice time on all units and is a valuable part of one of the best teams in the NHL.
- Tim Schaller having himself an impressive week.
When your top line struggles (more on that in a minute), other players need to step up in order for a team to succeed. Tim Schaller has been a pleasant surprise on both ends of the ice all season long, but in the last week, the New Hampshire native has shown a flare for some impressive and dramatic goals. Wednesday night’s outrageous goal could go down as the best Bruins’ goal of the season, as he undressed both the Rangers’ defense and King Henrik with some silly moves. Tonight’s shorthanded goal wasn’t as flashy, but showed off his speed and ingenuity, as he snuck a wraparound attempt past Lack with just three seconds left in the first period for his own shorthanded goal. Schaller tried to bank in a shot off of Lack as the second period expired as well. It’s clear that Schaller is beaming with confidence on the offensive end, and is leading a fourth line that may not have a cool nickname like the “Merlot line” but it just as important and effective as that terrific trio.
- The Bergeron line took 59 minutes to make a play.
The Bruins’ top line has spoiled the fans. It is expected night in and night out that the combination of Patrice Bergeron, Brad Marchand, and David Pastrnak will do something spectacular, and it is almost more noticeable when they have an off night like they did on Sunday. The line would have been nearly invisible until the final minute if not for the showering of boos given to Marchand every time he touched the puck, which came thanks to the Little Ball of Hate elbowing New Jersey’s Marcus Johansson in the team’s last meeting. The Devils waited until the end of the game to respond to that illegal hit, as Marchy was decked by Damon Severson. Before the huge open-ice hit, Marchand fed Bergeron for his empty-net tally, which demonstrated that line’s willingness to sacrifice themselves after making the right play. The first line looked shaky (as did the rest of the team) on Saturday night as well, so hopefully this is just a blip on an otherwise extraordinary season for the top line of the Bruins.
- These weren’t the same Bruins that we’re accustomed to seeing in the last two months.
For a large majority of this game, the Bruins looked nothing like a team that has not lost consecutive games in nearly two months. There were defensive breakdowns, multiple breakaway attempts early, turnovers in their own zone, a multitude of penalties (though several were questionable at best), and a lot of open ice for a quick, young, hungry Devils squad. The defense may have been scoring, but it wasn’t doing much in their own end of the ice throughout the contest. In fact, you could say that the B’s defense was offensive:
God I love that video.
If not for the stellar work of Khudobin in net, the B’s would have likely taken two L’s this weekend. After a torrid last two months of play, the Bruins were due for a stinker here and there, but hopefully these last two games were an anomaly and not the new norm in Boston.