What we learned: Bruins grind out an OT win in Detroit
They don’t give style points for winning. By the time the final buzzer sounds, all that matters is coming away with two points.
It appeared the Bruins would not be coming away with any points out of Detroit on Wednesday night. Through two periods, the Black and Gold were outhustled, outshot and flat out outplayed by the Red Wings at Little Caesars Arena.
In the midst of their frustrating night, the Bruins kept battling and overcame a 1-0 and 2-1 deficit to steal two points in their 3-2 overtime win over the Red Wings. Here is what we learned as the Black and Gold depart from snowy Detroit and return to Boston where the Washington Capitals await.
Tuukka Rask keeps the Bruins alive
Once again, the 2014 Vezina Winner was on top of his game, and the Bruins needed it on this night – especially during the first 40 minutes.
Though the Bruins had trouble at times clearing the puck out of their own end, Rask did his part in positioning himself nicely and controlling his rebounds. The two goals he allowed were on a screen shot (on Tomas Tatar’s second-period power play tally) and via Dylan Larkin’s shorthanded breakaway in the third period.
Through two periods, the Red Wings had the advantage in attacking time. Rask did his part to make sure Detroit worked hard to get its chances. It resulted in solid positional stops and a 31-save effort for his fifth straight win.
Rask will get a deserved breather on Thursday as Anton Khudobin gets the nod against the Caps.
Fourth line grinds through for the first equalizer
Fittingly, it took a greasy goal from the fourth line of Sean Kuraly, Tim Schaller and Noel Acciari to tie things up at 1-1.
As the trio scrambled for puck possession in front of Jimmy Howard, Acciari pounced on the loose puck and notched his second of the season at 3:02 to give the Bruins a much-needed lift out of the second intermission.
With their lineup now healthier and more well rounded, head coach Bruce Cassidy can now have the fourth line play to their strengths. They don’t have to be on the ice for long, just as long as they’re effective in their role as an energy unit that can occasionally chip in offensively. Acciari, Kuraly and Schaller provided that energy and that occasional offensive display in a timely manner against the Red Wings.
David Pastrnak commits costly turnover, makes up for it with tying 2-2 tally
With less than 10 minutes left and momentum shifting in their favor following Acciari’s equalizer, the Bruins looked to seize a golden opportunity to take the lead on their third power play of the night. Instead, the momentum went back to the Red Wings.
In an attempt to keep the play in the attacking end, David Pastrnak instead got crisscrossed and allowed Larkin to streak all alone. Once Larkin took the feed from Darren Helm, the former Michigan Wolverine finished off his breakaway with a beautiful backhander to give the Red Wings the 2-1 cushion at 11:33.
Deflated for a brief period afterward, Pastrnak and the Bruins bounced back to tie it. With Rask pulled for the extra attacker following a bad icing by the Red Wings, Pastrnak found space and whipped home a one-timer past Jimmy Howard on a beautiful pass by Brad Marchand through traffic for the 2-2 equalizer with 1:26 left in regulation.
For all the times he has forced mistakes through his creativity, Pastrnak finds ways to be creative in the attacking end. As seen in Wednesday’s win, the mistakes come with the territory for many young, skilled offensive talents like Pastrnak.
Marchand ends it quickly in OT
No doubt Marchand has taken his game to new heights since the start of the 2015-16 season. As good as he’s been over the past two and a half seasons, there’s a reason to think he may be playing the best hockey of his career since coming back from an undisclosed injury two weeks ago.
In addition to his assist on Pastrnak’s tying goal, Marchand ended things 35 seconds into the extra session with his highlight-reel game-winner. That marked Marchand’s fourth multi-point night – and his 10th point – since returning to the Bruins’ lineup on Nov. 29.
He may not get as many Hart Trophy votes as last year due to his injury, but Marchand and his 1.25 points per game (tied with Connor McDavid for fourth most) are MVP caliber stats. Even at 29, the Bruins are fortunate to have him as one of their core players – at a rather friendly $6.125 million cap hit – for the next six years.