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  • What We Learned: Bergeron caps off milestone night in fitting fashion

    Matthew Castle February 6, 2019
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    Tuesday’s celebration in Boston didn’t start and end with the New England Patriots parading through the city.

    The Pats latest Lombardi Trophy tour included a stop at TD Garden where Patrice Bergeron skated in his 1,000th career NHL game as the Bruins — fresh off a streak-busting win over the Capitals in Washington on Super Bowl Sunday — hosted the New York Islanders on Tuesday night.

    The Islanders nearly stole two points as they evened things up following Bergeron’s first of the evening. But an offside review wiped out Cal Clutterbuck’s potential go-ahead tally early in the third.

    The Bruins returned to the proverbial driver’s seat following Peter Cehlarik’s third goal of the season. Fittingly enough, Bergeron put the game out of reach with his empty netter to seal the two points.

    “Nice script. Glad it went our way,” Bruce Cassidy said following Boston’s 3-1 triumph. “Couple things had to happen along the way in the third period there, but I’m happy for Bergy. He’s a consummate pro, terrific person, terrific hockey player, terrific dad and I assume a terrific husband. All the above, so very happy things worked out well for him today, and I’m not surprised.”

    Here’s what we learned following the Bruins’ second victory of the season over the Metropolitan Division-leading Isles.

    Did you really expect anything else from Bergeron?

    Tuesday night belonged to Bergeron.

    The 33-year-old became just the sixth player in franchise history to play in 1000 career NHL games, joining Ray Bourque, Johnny “Chief” Bucyk, Wayne Cashman, Zdeno Chara and current GM Don Sweeney.

    He was treated to a well-deserved standing ovation from the TD Garden faithful following his first shift of the night.

    “Yeah, it was special. I just wanted them to drop the puck basically, but it was special. It’s always a little awkward for me, but I very much appreciate it of course,” Bergeron said. “It’s been 15-16 years — 15 here, 16 with the organization. It has a special place in my heart obviously. Boston, it’s been great. Obviously, my kids were born here and it’s definitely a second home now. So yeah, it’s very much appreciated, and they’ve been here supporting us since day one so it meant a lot.”

    And he had himself quite a game.

    The four-time Selke scored twice as he once again proved why he’s the best two-way player in the business.

    “Did you really expect anything else?” fellow partner in crime Brad Marchand said postgame.

    “Yeah it was awesome. Someone said it before the game that they would have bet money that he scores,” Tuukka Rask added.

    His first tally came in the second period and in the most Bergeron of ways.

    As the puck laid inches away from the goal line following Pastrnak’s initial shot, Bergeron didn’t give up as he beat a defender and snuck the puck past Isles goalie Robin Lehner to give the Bruins the 1-0 lead early in the second period.

    Bergeron’s work ethic resonates with his teammates, especially with his fellow top line cohorts in Marchand and Pastrnak. In a sign of respect, Pastrnak left the empty-net honors to Bergeron after Marchand skated out of the puck out of the zone.

    “Yeah, you know, means a lot obviously. I was surprised,” Bergeron said about Pastrnak’s gift. “I saw him look a couple times and I was like oh no, he’s going to drop it, but we were definitely alone and very much appreciate it.

    The Pats brought their championship mojo to Causeway Street

    As you might have heard, the Patriots greeted their loyal supporters in duck boats in the late morning/early afternoon timeframe on Tuesday. Several members stuck around to take in the Bruins-Isles contest, including Super Bowl MVP Julian Edelman, linebacker Dont’a Hightower and owner Robert Kraft.

    The Bruins put out a tribute fitting for a Super Bowl champion during their pregame ceremony. Edelman capped off the celebration by channeling his inner Rob Gronkowski during the ceremonial faceoff at center ice.

    “It’s huge. I’ve been to every championship-winning game,” Edelman said about the bond of the four Boston sports. “You always want to see them do well and those are your teams now. I’ve been here for ten years…I’m a Bostonian.”

    The crowd certainly fed off of the simple presence of their hometown football team all night. The Bruins, with championship aspirations of their own, also fed off that energy.

    “Well I think the energy was great. I’m sure the crowd was well lubed up from the parade this afternoon so that might have helped,” Rask said. “You know that was a great atmosphere, it was awesome. Those guys stopped by the locker room before and gave us some energy too so it was good to see that.”

    Speaking of Boston’s veteran goaltender…

    Rask holds the fort again

    Bergeron’s 1,000th game and the Patriots’ celebration provided pomp and circumstance Tuesday night. But another stellar outing from Rask provided another highlight.

    Rask, the team’s all-time winningest netminder, came through again when the Bruins need it. The 31-year old Finn made 28 saves and stood tall in several key situations, including a four-minute penalty kill late in the third period after Matt Grzelcyk went to the box for a pair of infractions.

    The Islanders had several quality chances on that four-minute power play, including a shot that glanced off of the post, but couldn’t get anything past the 2014 Vezina Trophy winner.

    “We gave up a couple chances, but you’re going to in four minutes and Tuukka was there for us,” Cassidy said about his starting goalie. 

    Rask is in mid-season form as the Bruins embark on the final three months of the 2018-19 regular season.

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    Matthew Castle

    Matt is a recent graduate from the Pennsylvania State University with a degree in sports journalism and a minor in business. He currently reports on the Boston Bruins and writes featured stories and game recaps for both Bruins Daily and Boston.com

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