The Bruins had every reason to be frustrated headed into the third period in Edmonton Tuesday. They had a 31-14 shot advantage, Anton Khodobin came up with a ridiculous save on Connor McDavid to keep the game relatively close and still, none of it mattered.
The Black and Gold allowed the Oilers a goal on their third shot of the game with 1:31 left in an otherwise dominant first. They went 0-for-3 on the power play against the worst penalty kill unit in the league. And there they were, trailing the Oilers 2-0 with only 20 minutes to ensure they wouldn’t drop their third game of the month to a bottom-five NHL team.
But, as has been the case all season, the B’s didn’t quit and their perseverance paid off with a three-goal third period and a comeback win over the lowly Oilers.
Here is what we learned as the B’s leave Western Canada with a 2-1 mark.
It doesn’t take a diehard hockey fan to picture a frustrated team — sticks slamming against goal posts, sloppy penalties and unnecessary fighting. Sometimes emotion takes over, but it’s hardly ever effective, and if there’s one thing that has lead to the Bruins being just one point behind Tampa Bay for the Atlantic Division lead this season, it’s been their ability to keep those emotions in check and remain effective until the final whistle blows. So, on par with the season to this point, the B’s just kept shooting.
Fourteen shots later, a three-goal third period lifted the Bruins to a 3-2 win.
The B’s have showcased this mentality several times this season — most recently in Calgary, when Tuukka Rask stood on his head and Brad Marchand made sure it counted during the 3-on-3 overtime triumph.
Acciari, Grzelcyk and Krejci break droughts in a timely fashion
Just a day before the win, right after stars Marchand and David Pastrnak got it done over Calgary, Bruce Cassidy said it was time for some of the younger guys to feel a little pressure and get out of funks.
So what do they do? Noel Acciari ended his third-longest career scoring drought and Matt Grzelcyk tied it up with his first since Nov. 24. The jury’s still out on if Cassidy considers 11-year NHL-er David Krejci a “younger guy,” but he broke a six-game point skid — his longest since 2012 — with the game-winning wrister late in the third.
Bruce Cassidy had a Cassidy-ism for Grzelcyk when the Bruins acquired depth defenseman Nick Holden earlier Tuesday: Focus on what you can control, not any impending changes to the lineup.
“Control your environment,” he said he told Grzelcyk. “Welcome to pro hockey, there’s a lot of competition. He fought his way out of Providence, he earned it….to have that internal competition has made us better this year.”
There was enough late-night hockey for a lifetime Tuesday as the United States lost 3-2 to the Czech Republic in a shootout shortly after Bruins-Oilers ended. Now that it’s over, one can fully appreciate the clinic Bruins prospect Ryan Donato put on throughout the tournament — five goals and six points in five games.
The hype surrounding the Hobey Baker favorite is at an all-time high now. Will he finish out his college career at Harvard or sign with the Bruins immediately? And if he signs, where does he fit in? Those intriguing questions will keep the Hub of Hockey on edge over the next few weeks.
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