Earlier on Tuesday, the General Manager of the Boston Bruins, Don Sweeney announced that forward David Pastrnak would be out at least two weeks having undergone surgery on his thumb. He’d injured it in a freak accident after attending an event with some of the other players. Not surprisingly, many were questioning how the Bruins would do on Tuesday night when they took on the Chicago Blackhawks who were riding a seven-game winning streak.
As things got underway, it did look like the Blackhawks were going to control the game. They were preventing the Bruins from getting a shot on net while at the other end, they put four shots on Tuukka Rask with the fourth one going in. Chicago was on the scoreboard first and the Bruins were playing from behind. And then the Bruins found themselves down first Brad Marchand, who was sent to the box for goaltender interference at 7:12, with Zdeno Chara following 1:11 after for roughing — affording the Blackhawks a 49 second five-on-three opportunity followed by more power play time after Marchand got out of the box. The Bruins were able to kill both of the penalties.
Perhaps it was the penalties themselves, or the momentum the Bruins got from their ability to kill them both, but the ice began to tilt in their favor and while Chicago was down a man—Brent Seabroook was whistled for a trip—the Bruins took advantage of their man advantage. With a solid pass by Patrice Bergeron through the slot to David Krejci who was set up in the left circle (some could call it Pastrnak’s Office), and Krejci put it past Collin Delia to tie things up at 14:47.
Just 49 seconds later, Danton Heinen, who has been playing on the top line with Bergeron and Marchand, was right on the Delia’s doorstep and he put a Marchand pass home to give the Bruins their first lead of the game. Boston wasn’t done yet in the opening frame. With 1:01 remaining in the period, Marchand added his marker, assisted by Heinen and Bergeron. Going into the first intermission the Bruins were leading 3-1 and the top line had combined for six points: Bergeron with two assists and both Marchand and Heinen had a goal and an assist.
The second period saw the Blackhawks get called for three more penalties: Erik Gustafsson for a tripping at 11:49, Connor Murphy with a cross-check at 15:42, and then Jonathan Toews with high-sticking at 16:02. Despite having an extended five-on-three opportunity when Murphy and Toews were sitting, the Bruins weren’t able to capitalize until four seconds after Toews left the box and Jake DeBrusk gave Boston a 4-1 lead.
Through the first two periods DeBrusk had put five shots on Delia with the fifth one giving him his first goal in 13 games. He had been struggling to be sure but watching him Tuesday night it was clear that he was hungry—or perhaps even a little “hangry”— to get his game going again.
“I think I was sick of everything to be honest with you, so I just tried to play hockey and have fun with it no matter what happens – even if I wasn’t scoring, I was just trying to enjoy every moment. It’s obviously not that hard to enjoy every moment, but I’m pretty hard on myself so obviously my frustration and different things, it was getting to a point where I was just like okay, I’m kind of sick of doing this. It isn’t working at all. So I was just like go back and be yourself. It worked, so try to do the same thing next game,” DeBrusk said.
It looked like the Bruins would be going into the second intermission with a three-goal lead, but the Blackhawks had other plans. With 23 seconds left on the clock, Duncan Keith put a fast one past Rask to go into the intermission with a 4-2 score. And the two-goal lead for the Bruins going into the third period has often not been their friend this season.
It was clear that Chicago was planning on riding the momentum from that late second period goal into the third. Once again, they were outshooting the Bruins, aided by an early penalty assessed to Sean Kuraly for hooking at 1:16. Shortly after he was out of the box, Noel Acciari for Boston and John Hayden for Chicago were both sent off with matching roughing minors, giving the teams some four-on-four play. Gustafsson got the Blackhawks within one goal while on the four-on-four, and there were questions swirling as to if this was going to be another game where the Bruins left points on the table.
However, the. Bruins weren’t backing down Tuesday night. Chicago’s Dylan Strome was sent off for slashing. Torey Krug worked the puck into the offensive end and then set up a beautifully executed tic-tac-toe pass from himself to Heinen to Peter Cehlarik. The Bruins regained their two-goal lead at 7:18 of the period. Responding just 3:30 after the Gustafsson goal showed that the Bruins were determined not to give up their lead as they had in recent games. They notched one more goal, the second of the game for Krejci, at 15:42 assisted by Marchand and DeBrusk to put a bow on it, winning the game 6-3.
Going into the game, the team knew they were without Pastrnak, and secondary scoring was going to be necessary. Everyone needed to step up. And when the final buzzer sounded, five different players had tallied goals, three of them being secondary scorers. Heinen, Krejci and DeBrusk all had three-point nights and Marchand had a four-point game.
“Yes, we got results tonight. The buy-in, I thought our fourth line was physical, played their game, controlled pucks low. Bergy’s [Patrice Bergeron] line was Bergy’s line. They matched up today against [Jonathan] Toews. We got them away from a different line the other night. Today, we stuck with that matchup. They had good energy. They were controlling the puck. I thought our D did a good job limiting the entries. Chicago’s dangerous at that. It did lead to a couple goals, but for the most part I thought we handled that part well. Scoring came with it. Chicago, at least by their analytics, not a great slot-coverage team. It’s probably why their goals against is high. So we focused on getting pucks and people in there. We did a real good job with that, especially the second period. The goalie made some terrific saves, but we stuck with it and eventually did get rewarded,” shared head coach Bruce Cassidy, who got his 100th win as the Bruins coach on Tuesday night.
There will be a forward called up as the team heads out west for a road trip, but the energy, determination, and doggedness of the team on Tuesday showed that they can get goals from more than just the Bergeron line.
“We’re going to need contributions from everybody with [Pastrnak] going down there for a bit. Heinen was unreal tonight, made a lot of big plays; Jake [DeBrusk] was very clutch tonight as well, so great games by them. You know, it’s fun to see them play like that and add so much depth to our group. Heinen has been great the last little bit, so we need that to continue,” said Marchand.