Saturday afternoon the Boston Bruins played host to the Los Angeles Kings. However, before the game began, there was a ceremony to honor Patrice Bergeron who had played in his 1000th game on Thursday.
His wife and children, along with his parents, joined him at ice level as he watched a video of many of his current and past teammates congratulating him. He was then given a lovely Tiffany crystal award to commemorate the milestone, which was presented by John Bucyk. This was followed by a large painting of him holding the Stanley Cup and a vacation for he and his family presented by his teammates Zdeno Chara, David Krejci, David Backes, Tuukka Rask and Brad Marchand. Bruins president Cam Neely presented Bergeron with a silver hockey stick and another painting. And then during the game additional well wishes were played on the Jumbotron from players on other Boston sports teams.
As the game got underway, the Bruins were outshooting the Kings, but as the teams went into the first intermission there was no score. The second period saw the Bruins score the first goal of the game as Danton Heinen made a solid pass to Bergeron, who put it right on Charlie McAvoy’s stick. McAvoy was right in front of the net and had a wide-open net, as Jonathan Quick had slid to his right expecting Bergeron to shoot on net. The Bruins lead would last about four minutes before Alex Iafallo would get his 11th goal of the season while the Kings were on the power play. The Bruins had killed a Chara interference penalty and then found themselves right back on the penalty kill when Krejci was sent off for a slash. The middle frame ended with the Kings up 2-1, after Anze Kopitar got a goal at 14:02.
The third period saw a more determined Bruins team hit the ice. It looked like they were the same team that had begun the game, and this time they were rewarded for their efforts. Heinen, assisted by McAvoy and Marchand got the game tied again 3:27 into the third. And then Krejci put one in at 4:57. Torey Krug had received a pass from David Pastrnak and shot it, but it hit the pipe and rebounded. It was that rebound that Krejci corralled to give the Bruins the lead. As Chris Wagner was in the penalty box for tripping, the Bruins found themselves in an odd-man rush as Bergeron carried the puck down the ice with Marchand parallel to him. A quick pass from Bergeron and Marchand had the Bruins up by two goals.
Once again the Kings would fight back, first a goal by Nate Thompson, at 9:19, and then Oscar Fantenberg at 15:13. So, once again the Bruins gave up a two-goal lead in the third period, which is something they need to look at and fix quickly. They cannot continue to give up leads as the games begin to count down. Perhaps the one good thing was that they were able to take this one to overtime. And Rask played a large part in that – making some important stops throughout the game.
During the overtime period, Ilya Kovalchuk was whistled for tripping 1:27 into the extra inning. The Bruins would get a four-on-three. However, once again it looked like the opposition would get a shorthanded goal, as there was a breakaway for the Kings, but Rask tracked it all the way and kept the Bruins in the game. As the Bruins turned to come back the other way and gained entry into the Kings end, Krug passed the puck to Bergeron, who put it right in the net. Given that it was Bergeron, it somehow seemed fitting. And in his 1001st game he had a goal and two assists, because he continues to be that kind of player.
“Yeah, the legend continues. You know, it’s great to see him have the game that he had. It was a great ceremony to start and he deserves all the recognition that he’s been getting and has gotten over the last few years. So, he’s an incredible player, teammate, friend, and family man, so it was great that he had the night that he did,” shared Marchand.
After the game, Bergeron was asked about the ceremony and about some of the comments that had been said as well as the fact that the Kings were on the bench during the ceremony.
“Yeah it means a lot, obviously. Actually, a lot of guys from their team congratulated me, obviously a lot of class from their side. Obviously, I played with one of their coaches [Marco Sturm], an amazing guy as well. Yeah it meant a lot,” he said. “Had to look away a few times (from the video tribute]. It was pretty special to hear from all these guys. Like I said, to me winning and the friendships I’ve made over the years are what is most important and that was really special.”
Sturm had told a reporter that he could sum up Bergeron in one word: Pro. When asked if he agreed, Marchand reached a little higher.
“Yeah, or God. One of the two. No, he is. He’s the ultimate pro, the way he conducts himself and prepares himself each and every day and shows up consistently and in the big moments continues to prove himself. So, yeah, pro is a great word, but I think God is a little more fitting,” he said.
Bergeron acknowledge that he considered Sturm to be a professional as well.
“I can say the same. I learned a lot from him, especially … he came in when I was 20 years old and just the energy that he brought every day at the rink was great for a young guy like me. I realized that he was enjoying and making the most of the moment and that’s something real important that you forget sometimes. He was an amazing teammate,” he said.
The Bruins have little time to enjoy this overtime victory. They play at 3:00pm on Sunday against the Colorado Avalanche, who lost to the New York Islanders on Saturday in overtime. The Avalanche come into the game with a 22-22-10 record, while the Bruins are 30-17-8. These are two important points that the Bruins need to get.