Bruins 3 wins over Red Wings
Boston fell into an early 2-0 hole before scoring three goals to win its 50th game of the season.
After a 3-2 loss to the Edmonton Oilers and uncharacteristically poor performances from Patrice Bergeron and Brad Marchand, the Boston Bruins looked to get out of the gate quickly in the opening game of the weekend against the Detroit Red Wings.
The Bruins didn’t play their best hockey in the early going. But they found their groove along the way and overcame an early two-goal deficit to become the fastest team in National Hockey League history to reach 50 wins in a season.
Starting with Andrew Kopp’s interception of David Krejci’s offensive zone pass, Boston faced a series of tough turnovers in less than two minutes in the first stanza. Kopp completed a quick 2-of-1 that gave Detroit an early advantage on a short count.
A couple of slick passes from Detroit’s power play, then three minutes later, Alex Chiasson put the Red Wings up 2-0 when he headed home David Perron’s pass.
The Bruins came out quicker after the first break. During a relentless second-period push, Boston finally found a thread at 12:41 on Hampus Lindholm’s wrist shot from the point.
Detroit thought they quickly regained their two-goal cushion through Dylan Larkin’s strike. But the Red Wings captain’s shot on Krejci was canceled out, putting Boston back on the power play.
On that power play, Jake DeBrusk hit a high slot and made a hard pass to Bergeron. Boston’s captain put the puck past Detroit goaltender Magnus Hellberg to tie the game at 2-2 with 5:49 left in the middle.
With 6:06 left in regulation, Boston’s fourth line drove into the offensive zone, where AJ Greer’s shot cuffed Hellberg. Garnet Hathaway scored his first goal as a Bruin.
Here’s what we learned from Boston’s 3-2 win over the Detroit Red Wings.
The Bruins came together for “hard-hitting offensive hockey.”
On Thursday, the Bruins witnessed rare errors from Bergeron and Marchand that tipped the ice in Edmonton’s favor. Only once has Boston lost back-to-back games all season, and that was during a five-game 1-3-1 streak between late January and early February.
The first 20 minutes against Detroit left a lot to be desired. Detroit controlled the puck with neat passing and had possession throughout the opening game.
The Bruins eventually returned to their structured ways. And from the second period it was a good team.
“I thought our body was better without the puck,” head coach Jim Montgomery said. “I thought we were more inclined to play hard offensive hockey.”
Boston’s resilience shined again against the Red Wings. Saturday was the 19th win since the Bruins trailed at any point in the game.
“They pushed hard early in the game and I thought we played our best hockey in the second period,” Hathaway said. “We have to make sure we overcome the challenges and hurdles these teams present.”
“We got back to being tough on the puck and holding on to it. When you’re able to do that by getting time and space, you can keep some pressure off,” Bergeron added. “That’s where you get some momentum.”
As well as finding their scoring opportunities, Boston dramatically increased their physical presence in the final 40 minutes without fearing tackles or post-whistle scrums. The collisions were tough as they often are, especially as Connor Clifton and Dmitry Orlov played to their physical strengths as one of Boston’s defensive duos.
Boston’s special teams are rusty.
While the Bruins stand high in the NHL with a 50-9-5 record and a roster loaded with talent that could win regular-season material at the end of the year, their flaws — if rare — get attention. Their once mighty power play is at the top of the list of improvements.
The Bruins’ special teams had mixed results on Saturday. They were blown out after allowing a goal in the first 4:32 of the game on shorthanded and on the power play.
In the second, Boston got the score it needed on the power play to tie Bergeron.
Boston’s power play may not be as dangerous as it was earlier this season, but it’s starting to come back into place. Orlov is now the top unit point, while Lindholm and Charlie McAvoy both anchor the second unit.
Those changes, along with Tyler Bertuzzi’s move to the secondary, should inspire confidence in the coming weeks.
The fourth line shines in the clutch.
Fourth lines tend to get a lot of praise from Boston fans. From Daniel Paley, Gregory Campbell, and Sean Thornton’s Merlot line to the 2019 trio of Noel Acccari, Sean Kuraly, and Chris Wagner, there’s something about the blues that resonate throughout New England.
After recent performances from Greer, Hathaway and Thomas Nosek, the Bruins could have another great fourth line to work with.
At the center of Boston’s medley performance Saturday, the Greer-Nosek-Hathaway line was the most cohesive, entertaining and impressive trio.
“I thought they were our best line all night. From the first shift, I thought they threw us,” Montgomery said. “They looked great and spent a lot of time in the O zone even though I threw them a lot in the D zone.”
Eight shots on goal, eight shots, and of course, a layup for the game-winner.
Hathaway won the first star award for her account, but Greer’s energy and hardworking qualities also caught Montgomery’s attention.
“I’m happy for AJ and I was happy with him tonight,” Boston’s first-year coach said. “He made plays, played hard, used his speed, was physical and stuck to the puck. When AJ Greer hangs on pucks, I know he’s at the top of his game, especially in the offensive zone.
“Griercy catches any puck and makes a great check,” Hathaway added of Greer.
Montgomery is close to shaking up the ranks, especially with a tight schedule and veteran players resting in the coming weeks, but it looks like he’s found another line worth keeping.
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