Game 6 of 82. The Bruins entered their four-game homestand looking for some sort of response – without Tuukka Rask – following a 2-3 start.
Their first opponent of the four-game homestand? The Vancouver Canucks, a team in rebuilding mode. No, it wasn’t reminiscent of their Stanley Cup Final in 2011, but there was a small feeling of flashbacks for Bruins fans – especially in Game 6 of that series – in Boston’s response to Erik Gudbranson’s hit from behind on Frank Vatrano that earned the Canucks defenseman a five-minute major and a game misconduct at 6:13 of the first.
The Bruins had worked their way to even the score at 1-1 at 3:29 when Anders Bjork countered Derek Dorsett’s second of the season just 31 seconds earlier. The Gudbranson hit, however, gave them a reason to counter with the best revenge possible – the scoreboard.
Gudbranson, however, wouldn’t get off too easily. Before being shown the door, the Canucks blue-liner had to answer to Tim Schaller as the Providence College alum came to the aid of his fellow linemate.
“I turned around there and I see that Frankie was turned around and squished between the boards with his back turned,” said Schaller after tallying 8:15 of time on ice in the Bruins’ 6-3 victory. “So I thought it was a hit from behind, and I was going to stand up for my teammate, so I jumped in.”
Fortunately for Vatrano (6:40 of ice time), that was not the end of his night as he returned to the ice a few minutes after the hit from Gudbranson. Though he did miss the B’s power play onslaught on Gudbranson’s five-minute major.
On that man advantage, David Pastrnak weaved through the Canucks defense on a highlight reel goal – his fourth of the season – while Bjork tallied his second of the night and David Krejci (who left in the second period after sustaining an upper body injury) capped off the three-goal brigade with his first of the season.
Three power play goals in a span of 1:37. The perfect response to Gudbranson’s hit from behind on Vatrano.
“We want to be a tight group and a team that responds to stuff like that,” said a returning Patrice Bergeron following his four-point night that included a goal and an assist during the Bruins’ eight power play attempts on the evening. “That’s something that we talked about on the bench that when they announced the penalty, we had to make them pay…and that’s by scoring goals. That was a great power play for us.”
Though the Bruins had clicked at about 20 percent on the power play heading into Thursday’s tilt, they were still looking for some consistency from both units. The three-goal output on Gudbranson’s major did just that with two goals coming from the first unit (Bergeron, Pastrnak, Brad Marchand, Torey Krug and Kenny Agostino) and one from the second unit (Krejci, Bjork, Jake DeBrusk, Charlie McAvoy and David Backes).
“If you can make a team pay, you’re hoping on a major to get one, maybe two. All of a sudden you get three in there and especially at home, we need a little juice,” head coach Bruce Cassidy said. “We come off the road not playing how we wanted to, and it gives us a lead it’s always so much easier. Great response by the guys, both units.”
“I don’t know if I’ve ever been a part of that,” added Backes, who also played in his first game this year after his bout with diverticulitis, “but it was a fun five minutes I think for our team and for the fans here.”
Bruins fans hadn’t seen three goals in a five-minute major since October 28, 1998, against the Canadiens up in Montreal at the then Molson Centre; a 9-2 win for the Black and Gold. They got to witness the same moment – this time on Causeway Street – against another team from up north on Thursday night.