The Boston Bruins looked like their point streak was perhaps coming to an end as they played the Florida Panthers on Thursday night. Going into the second intermission the Panthers had a 2-1 lead and seemed to be dictating the game. Even when the Bruins tied things in the third, the Panthers came right back, going up a goal.
However, with 2:36 remaining in regulation, Florida’s Mike Hoffman was sent to the box for a tripping penalty, and 23 seconds after the Bruins pulled Tuukka Rask for the extra man on the power play, Matt Grzelcyk notched a tremendously important game-tying goal with 37 seconds left on the clock.
Having been down 2-0, it looked like the Bruins would now be assured at least one point if they could hold on for the remaining 37 seconds to push the game to overtime. Doing so would garner them a continuation of their point streak. However, Patrice Bergeron, who had already scored a shorthanded goal earlier in the third to tie the game at two each, wasn’t content to just kill off the clock. Instead, he scored his second of the night with seven seconds remaining in the final frame to give the Bruins their first lead of the game.
“Again, fall behind, not a good formula. Listen, our guys have a lot of resiliency, a lot of belief in themselves. Again, we lose another player out of our lineup that’s been real good for us scoring wise, but we manage to get four. [Grzelcyk] is the guy tonight that you probably don’t suspect, gets on the scoresheet. Again, [Bergeron] I thought was, you know, leadership off the ice but real good on the ice. He was very good on the bench about ‘keep playing for the next one,’ and they wanted it,” shared Bruins head coach Bruce Cassidy after the game.
The Florida Panthers had dictated the game, outshooting the Bruins much of it, and generally stymying the black and gold, limiting what few chances they had to outside shots that Roberto Luongo could see and deny.
“We have some looks, then we get into the line-rush game, maybe, where they’re good. So, that’s the part where you’d like to stay with the same formula all game, but they’re human, and it’s not easy to do that every night. And then we got back to it. And then we win, and it’s like the way we win: different guys contributing, shorthanded goal, so never quit. I love that about the guys. They play for one another every night. It’s not always perfect, but they’re great that way, and they’re happy for each other. You don’t see that in every team, trust me. Some guys are not happy for others. They want to be the guy, and I think our guys are genuinely happy for each other’s success,” continued Coach Cassidy.
His comments to the joy that the players take regardless of who scores is obvious both on the ice after the goal as well as on the bench and later in the locker room. It is one of the things that makes this team tick and speaks volumes of the atmosphere that the core leadership has instilled, especially in a team with so many young players who on other teams may feel jealous of the success of a younger player or one who hasn’t spent much time with the NHL club. However, you will not see that attitude with the Bruins.
“We’re all very happy for one another. You know, when you look at teams that are good and make good runs, everyone is happy for each other and pushes each other. You know, we’re just as happy if the defense scored or the forwards scored, or the goalie scored. Doesn’t matter to us, as long as we win games. I mean when you have team success, everyone has success, so it goes hand in hand, and we just want to win. That’s all we’re about in here and doesn’t matter how we do it,” stated Brad Marchand.
Of course, it would be better if they didn’t give their opponent a two-goal lead before they decide to take control and work to get the win. They went down by two on Tuesday when they played the Carolina Hurricanes, who were representing their roots by wearing Hartford Whalers throwback jerseys that night. And a slow start on Thursday saw them ultimately having to dig out of a similar hole against the Panthers.
“Yeah, I think that’s fair to say. I think we’ve – in this, lately the last few weeks – the way that we’ve been playing is always finding ways and it’s not always going to be perfect, it’s not always going to be your best game, but you’re one shot away from being back in the game. That’s what we talked about in the third. I thought we were better but then giving up that third goal, we could have crumbled but we stuck with it and we found a way. So, we’re going to definitely take it, but we also know that we’ve got to be better,” Bergeron said of their tenacity to pull out the win on Thursday.
Adding to the woes of the team, who played a slow and undisciplined game that allowed the Panthers to not only score first but also have a number of power play chances, was the announcement before the game that hot winger Jake DeBrusk would be out of the game with a lower-body injury that was day-to-day. A few weeks ago they had lost David Pastrnak, the team leader in goals scored, and now they would not have DeBrusk’s hot hands to help the team. However, their “next man up,” mentality coupled with their belief that it doesn’t matter who scores the goal as long as he’s wearing black and gold, has gone a long way in helping this team step up at the most difficult of times.
It certainly wasn’t the best recipe for success, but they definitely gave their fans a rollercoaster ride during the third period that undoubtedly had them soaring high when the four-time Selke-winning Bergeron did what he does so well, ensuring that the Bruins point streak lives to fight another day.