The Boston Bruins came into Monday night’s game riding a two game winning streak. Pulling out the win in a shootout against Carolina last Thursday and holding onto the one goal lead in their 2-1 regulation win against the Sabres on Saturday has perhaps added a little bit of confidence to the team.
Monday’s game against the Florida Panthers saw the Bruins leading three times in regulation but the Panthers were able to tie it up each time, capitalizing on a couple of costly mistakes by the Bruins. In an uncharacteristic move, Patrice Bergeron misplayed a pass from Zdeno Chara, allowing Panthers Reilly Smith to get the puck to Aleksander Barkov for the Panthers’ second goal. Their third goal came just six seconds after Roberto Luongo vacated his net for the extra attacker, the goal coming with 1:29 remaining in regulation.
David Pastrnak would end up being the hero of the evening with two goals—including the game winner in overtime. Going into the extra five minutes the Panthers had been perfect with a 5-0 record in OT. The patience Pastrnak showed coupled with the speed he gathered by going out to the neutral zone and back in to pick up David Krejci’s pass was enough to get Luongo down in the crease. Then all Pastrnak had to do was raise it up. That gave the Bruins their third straight win.
“[Pastrnak] scored some big goals, some timely goals. I don’t know if any of them have been quite as pretty as that one in OT,” David Backes said after the game. “He’s got the skills, the confidence. It almost looked like his shootout move from the other day.”
With the back and forth of the goals, Backes’ own goal, a deflection of Ryan Spooner’s slapper, that put the Bruins back on top with under seven minutes remaining in regulation proved essential to the game. Luongo had denied so many shots throughout the night. If he saw it, he stopped it. Backes’ screen and deflection wasn’t the first time he’d been in front of the net during the game. In fact, he was playing a strong “blue collar” game each time he was on the ice. Without that goal, it could have been a completely different result.
Pastrnak has spent most of this season on the line with Bergeron and Brad Marchand. He’s been keeping his ears open, learning from them and the coaches.
“Obviously it’s our 26th or 27th game in the season and all games I play beside [Bergeron] and [Marchand] and those two guys—it’s such a pleasure to play and learning a bunch of stuff,” Pastrnak shared. “Learning every single shift and they talk to me, tell me what to do, and then I guess [I’m] trying to listen and we have a lot of guys here who have been around the league for a long time, so they [are] helping us young guys and it’s really helpful.”
While the Bruins scored four goals in the game, it still came down to a single goal for the win. With continued injuries—such as the six week injury to Matt Beleskey that was just announced—the team is going to have to dig a little deeper. The corps players are still struggling a bit, but their young linemates like Pastrnak and Brandon Carlo are soaking up what the players and coaches have to say. It would be nice, though, if not every game the Bruins played hinged on a one goal differential drama.
The Bruins will play host to the Colorado Avalanche on Thursday evening. The Avalanche sit in last place in the Western Conference, which means they will bring everything they have on Thursday, because they have nothing to lose. These types of games sometimes pose problems for the Bruins, but perhaps their current mettle will help them get the jump on the game.