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  • What we learned: Happy Birthday, Charlie McAvoy!

    Post Game

    What we learned: Happy Birthday, Charlie McAvoy!

    Bob Snow December 22, 2017

    He still can’t buy a beer. But he’s old enough to win an NHL hockey game.

    On his 20th birthday, Charlie McAvoy nailed a fourth-round shootout goal to give the flu-ridden Bruins and Tuukka Rask a scintillating 2-1 win over the talented Winnipeg Jets.

    After an equally exciting overtime in which Boston had four chances to win it and Winnipeg six, David Pastrnak and Bryan Little exchanged first-round shootout goals before McAvoy’s heroics.

    Here’s what we learned in a goaltending duel to the end between Rask and former UMass-Lowell standout Connor Hellebuyck.

    Bruins and their PK slow Jets’ propulsion

    “They draw a lot of penalties,” Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy said postgame, “and they were able to again. Their power play is deadly, so that was a big part to not have to chase the game. When you are fatigued and a little under the weather, it can be difficult. So yes, a big part of our game.”

    The Jets came in ranked third in the NHL in goals scored, while their power play ranked the same. Patrik Laine, the Jets’ first-round pick at No. 2 behind Auston Mathews (Toronto) in 2016 hit the post behind Rask nine minutes in on Winnipeg’s first man advantage. The Bruins killed a second; then a third in the second period.

    Krug and Laine swap third-period icebreakers

    Torey Krug intercepted a Jets’ clearing pass and teed up a 50-foot blast from the left point that found twine at 8:16.

    “Waiting for traffic to happen,” Krug said about his sixth of the season. “Get in his eyes and make him make a save with his hands. He’s a good goaltender; take his eyes away and see what happens.”

    Just a minute later at 9:13, Laine took the team’s lead in goals with his 18th on a 15-foot whistler past Rask from the bottom of the left faceoff dot.

    The Rask task rolls on

    Rask stopped 37 of 38 shots, earning points in eight straight games at 7-0-1. He’s played in nine of the team’s last 11 games with a 1.55 goals against average. His record against the Jets all-time is 13-6-0.

    Hellebuyck is still without a win in three career starts against the Bruins.

    “Whenever the breakouts happen then the quality chances I guess happen too and become dangerous,” Rask said. “So it happened a few times today, but we battled through and survived.”

    “When Tuukka came around,” Cassidy said, “I thought we were playing very well in front of him, and on a night like tonight when he had to be a little bit better, he was. It is almost like the guys are looking out for each other on the nights when they need to, and that is the sign of a good team.”

    Bruins persevere without Krejci; Cave fills in

    The Black and Gold were 10-3-1 when Patrice Bergeron and David Krejci are in the lineup. Playing without their No. 2 pivot this week they climbed to 7-7-4.

    With Krejci scratched again Thursday with a nagging upper-body setback, Bruce Cassidy’s eternal line-juggling acts kept the absence out of the loss column.

    Colby Cave was called up from Providence for his first NHL game to add some healthy legs.

    “I thought his game was fine. I know him from Providence,” Cassidy said. “He did what we asked him to do and helped us get the two points.”

    “I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t [excited],” a jubilant Cave said after his 11:18 ice time and 18 shifts. “It’s a dream come true, getting the first out of the way. And hopefully, I can stick around here.”

    The kids keep coming through

    Monday night the No. 1 star was Danton Heinen. Tuesday, it’s Jake DeBrusk scoring the winning goal. Thursday, it’s McAvoy.

    All while the flu bug slowed a slew across the Boston pine.

    “I don’t want to go through the whole room,” Cassidy said about the ongoing flu bug, “because we will reevaluate tomorrow, but [Brad Marchand] Marchy was one of the worst ones along with Nash and Spooner. He just happened to find enough energy to get out there and play.

    “Good for Charlie. He seems to rise up to these moments.”

    Birthday boy sentiments

    “Regardless of who’s hurt or, you know, who’s sick or what’s happening in our room, we always feel like we can win if we play the right way,” McAvoy assessed, “and tonight we did for 65 minutes and played good, and we were trying to stick to our identity there and, you know, it goes all the way there, the distance, and you know, we were able to come out on top. We feel really good about ourselves in here.

    “Cherry on top of a great effort by our team.”

    Detroit on Saturday – again without Krejci – in the last game before Christmas.

    “We are in that mode right now,” Cassidy said. “And we want to stay in it.”

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