What we learned: Bruins topple Penguins in wild win
There’s a chance that if you watched Thursday’s 8-4 victory over the Pittsburgh Penguins, you may have seen something you’ve never seen before. Eight combined first period goals, a Zdeno Chara fight, a David Krejci hat trick, and three goals on the Bruins’ first five shots were just a handful of highlights from Boston’s second straight victory.
The game was the Bruins’ second since losing Patrice Bergeron for a minimum of two weeks with a foot injury. But, as was the case Tuesday night against the Carolina Hurricanes, the B’s marched on.
Much like Tuesday, the trade deadline newcomers chipped in on the offensive fun as Rick Nash, Brian Gionta and Nick Holden combined for a goal and four assists. David Krejci’s three-goal evening gave the Bruins their third hat trick of the season. Bergeron owns the other two.
Let’s take a closer look at Thursday’s rout at TD Garden.
The first-period insanity:
All the first period produced was…21 shots, three different goalies, and eight combined goals (plus one disallowed marker). Behind tallies by Krejci, Pastrnak, Nash, David Backes, and Torey Krug, the Bruins took a 5-3 lead into the first intermission.
Goals were wacky in the opening frame, but then there was this:
Amazing goal pic.twitter.com/cSfCFjWQUn
— Pete Blackburn (@PeteBlackburn) March 2, 2018
Rick Nash continues to impress since the trade that brought the former Ranger to Boston. His work on Krejci’s first goal of the night was a thing of beauty, and so was his own first-period strike…in its own way.
The Rick Nash destruction tour rages on pic.twitter.com/bEfO3pBysy
— Pete Blackburn (@PeteBlackburn) March 2, 2018
The biggest thing Nash has done, in his three games as a Bruin thus far, has been bringing out the best in Krejci.
“Well, I mean, David had some of his best years here playing with Looch [Milan Lucic] and [Nathan] Horton and [Jarome] Iginla, so he is used to having big, heavy guys who will get to the net,” head coach Bruce Cassidy said.
The rough night for Tuukka Rask:
In most cases, when your team scores eight goals in front of you, you’re going to be happy. Thursday night, however, may not have been one of those cases for Tuukka Rask; the Finn allowed four goals in the victory — including three first period tallies on just seven shots.
Rask later confirmed that he believed he could have stopped all three.
“Oh my god. Yeah, [in] the first period, I thought we were playing with white pucks there,” Rask exclaimed postgame. “The only time I saw the puck was when I dug it out of the net. [I] had some Red Bull in the intermission there, and I actually made a couple saves after that.”
Phil Kessel scores his 27th goal of the season from a near-impossible angle. pic.twitter.com/SQFGgEu38C
— Pittsburgh Penguins (@penguins) March 2, 2018
There shouldn’t be any major concern about Rask after Thursday’s performance. Just chalk it up to a rough night at the office for the 2014 Vezina winner.
The hat trick:
Thursday was unquestionably the best game of the season for Krejci. It’s clear that Nash and he have found immediate chemistry, and their partnership has been paying off for the Black and Gold.
— Marina Molnar (@mkmolnar) March 2, 2018
“He’s a great player. I’m obviously happy to be on his line. We had a good game, so hopefully we can build on that and be even better next game,” Krejci said about Nash. “He took the puck tonight. He’s got a big body and can skate really well, so [I’m] trying to get a feel of what he can do and try to find that spot and get an idea of where he puts the puck. So, it’s getting better.”
The bounce-back night for Brandon Carlo
The 2017-18 campaign has been a roller coaster of a ride for Brandon Carlo. After being a healthy scratch for the first time in his career Sunday afternoon at Buffalo, Carlo had himself another long night on Tuesday against the Hurricanes; he found himself on the ice for all three of Carolina’s goals.
Despite this, Cassidy stuck with his guns — even with Holden and Adam McQuaid waiting in the wings — and left Carlo in the lineup for Thursday’s contest. The second-year defenseman responded with one of his better performances of the season.
Carlo was smart with the puck and made a handful of nice plays in his own zone. He also maintained strong physicality on Sidney Crosby behind the Bruins’ net early in the game, exchanging pleasantries with the Penguins captain on several occasions. The Bruins will hope that Thursday will be a confidence booster for Carlo, as he continues to develop his game.
“Yeah, we asked him to play a little more gritty, use his body when the opportunity is there. I thought he did a real good job, again, using his feet as well. He is coming out of it. We’re seeing the player that we saw last year when he was at his best,” Cassidy assessed. “Again, we’ll best see where he is suited in terms of his partnership. Again, it was a new one tonight.”