The Bruins’ late-game theatrics became the norm coming out of their bye week. That trend, appropriately enough, continued in Los Angeles against the Kings on Saturday night during their second game of their five-game west coast trip.
Jake DeBrusk, Tuukka Rask and Charlie McAvoy’s stars shined bright in Boston’s late-game heroics against Ilya Kovalchuk, Jeff Carter and the rest of the lowly Kings in its 4-2 victory at Staples Center. Here is what we learned as the Bruins now sit one point ahead of the rival Maple Leafs for second place in the Atlantic Division.
Jake DeBrusk is on fire
DeBrusk acknowledged his tendencies as a streaky scorer during his hockey career. He’s been on both ends of the spectrum from long goal droughts to impressive streaks of lightning the lamp. The Bruins are seeing the latter from DeBrusk of late.
The 2015 first round selection extended his goal streak to three straight games after firing Peter Cehlarik’s pass past Jack Campbell for his career high 17th of the season.
David Pastrnak’s latest thumb injury left a significant void. DeBrusk has certainly picked up the slack providing the Bruins with some much-needed secondary scoring. Adding a bonafide top-six forward like Carter, Artemi Panarin or Wayne Simmonds at the trade deadline will only help DeBrusk and fellow second liner David Krejci for Boston’s late-season push.
Tuukka Rask stays in midseason form
Any questions surrounding Rask’s return from his concussion sustained prior to the bye week are now answered.
Rask, who only missed one outing coming out of the week off, keeps picking up where he left off with every start since returning from his latest head injury in late January. The 2014 Vezina winner improved to 11-0-2 in his last 13 games during another spectacular performance Saturday night.
He only saw 25 shots on goal against the Kings, but Rask had to work hard for every save against Kovalchuk and company. The Finn stopped everything from shorthanded breakaways to one-timers and had a pair of save of the year candidates.
Rask’s highlight reel saves came in the second period with the Bruins holding on to a 1-0 lead. His first impressive stop came on Anze Kopitar’s breakaway during a Boston play.
That stop on Kopitar is top 10 worthy for sure. But Rask’s robbery on Alex Iaffalo minutes later stole the show after channeling his inner Tim Thomas by stacking his pads and keeping the puck out of the net.
Rask’s 13-game run provides flashbacks to his Vezina Trophy campaign five years ago. His fellow goaltender partner in crime, Jaroslav Halak, is finding his groove again after his toughest stretch of the season.
Cassidy has himself a stellar goaltending tandem — a luxury that very few coaches have. That will only benefit the Bruins in the long run.
The Bruins found their killer instinct in crunch time
They didn’t close things out the way they would’ve liked to after Iafallo buried a rebound past Rask to tie things up. A questionable tripping call on Brad Marchand just 23 seconds later gave the Kings a late power play attempt with four minutes remaining.
The Bruins persevered. They killed off LA’s final chance with the man advantage with ease. Then they went to work to end things in regulation.
McAvoy’s offensive awareness on the give and go with DeBrusk caught the Kings flat-footed en route to the go-ahead goal with 1:13 left in the third. L.A., looking to counter quickly — again — hoped to get Campbell out of the net for the extra attacker quickly. They didn’t. The Bruins stayed aggressive in the attacking as Bergeron one-handed his 21st of the season for the dagger.
A fitting end for their fifth straight win in the city of stars. But things won’t get any easier for the Bruins as they embark on the tougher half of their road trip beginning Monday in San Jose against another red hot squad in the Sharks.
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