The Boston Bruins and Carolina Hurricanes met for the first time since their Eastern Conference Finals showdown. The early-December matchup hardly resembled anything similar to the quick four-game series in May.
Even with a decent turnout at TD Garden full of fans braving the elements, the Bruins and Hurricanes lulled the loyal Boston supporters into sleep for a good chunk of Tuesday’s contest. But the Black and Gold woke the building up in time for another round of third-period theatrics.
Charlie Coyle (at 15:55 of the third) and David Krejci (on his 200th career tally at 17:03) took the game from 0-0 tie to a two-goal lead with their sixth goals of the season a mere 68 seconds apart. Jaroslav Halak secured the gritty victory in the final 2:57 with his second shutout of the season.
Here’s what we learned as the Bruins became the first team to hit the 20-win mark in 2019-20.
Jaroslav Halak earns a shutout in his 500th career game
Tuukka Rask achieved his 500-game milestone in a 4-2 win over the Maple Leafs in late-October. His fellow goaltending partner in crime joined that illustrious club Tuesday night.
Unlike Rask, who delivered a solid performance in his own right during that win over Toronto, Halak didn’t allow a single puck past him in career game No. 500.
Well, one puck actually found its way behind the goal-line, albeit in an unorthodox fashion. A Jaccob Slavin backhander found its way past Halak, but it led to an easy decision to waive the goal off after the puck went through the side of the net.
“It’s high,” Halak said on where the Slavin non-goal ranks upon the weird bounces he’s seen in his career. “It happens. If someone shoots it at the right spot or if someone deflects [the puck] off his skate, they can go in. We just found a way, and luckily for us, it was a disallowed goal.”
Halak also benefitted from a couple of pucks going off the post. But he also created his own luck with some timely saves to, once again, give the Bruins a chance to win.
Halak’s teammates, and his coaches all provided their praises as he fittingly capped off a milestone night with his 49th career shutout.
“Might as well get it with a shutout, right? Good for him. He battles hard in there,” Cassidy said about Halak’s milestone.
“In my opinion, he’s a No. 1 goalie in this league. He’s proven that. He plays great for us, gives us a chance to win every night. So for us, for a coach, for players out there, knowing it doesn’t matter who goes in the net, you’re going to get quality goaltending. Give us a chance to win and more every night. I think the guys are really happy for Jaro. He’s a guy that battles in practice too for the guys as he takes those extra shots when he needs to be. I thought he was really good tonight.”
Two stellar netminders with 500 career games under their belt. Now that’s a luxurious thing to have on any team, let alone a squad with serious Stanley Cup aspirations.
Charlie Coyle capped off his stellar night with the go-ahead tally
Patrice Bergeron’s latest battle with his lingering lower-body injury put the Bruins in a tough spot. On the flip side, his absence provided certain players more playing time be it moving up in the lineup or a promotion from Providence.
Charlie Coyle falls in the former distinction. His versatility provides a good fit anywhere in the lineup.
The Bruins would rather have Coyle slotted in as the third line center, thus providing stability behind Bergeron and Krejci down the middle. But that hasn’t stopped the Weymouth-born centerman from producing offense upon his recent promotion to the second line.
Skating alongside Danton Heinen and Brad Marchand — with Cassidy swapped the top-line winger and Jake DeBrusk mid-game — Coyle was unquestionably the best player on either side Tuesday night. He became a threat to light the lamp on each shift and shielded the puck away from an aggressive Hurricanes forecheck.
Finally, on his sixth shot of the night, Coyle broke through on the scoresheet after tipping Marchand’s feed past James Reimer for the game’s first goal. Danton Heinen set the Marchand-Coyle tandem up with a stellar stick check on Jake Gardiner in the attacking end and an equally impressive indirect pass to Marchand leading to Coyle’s deflection.
“It’s just the little plays that make the big difference,” Coyle said about Heinen’s set up leading to his 99th career NHL goal. “You’re winning battles and making plays. It wasn’t the prettiest play, but it goes in. You stick with that process and we have a lot of guys who stress that.”
Coyle, now one goal away from 100, processed a decent amount of twists and turns during his NHL career. But, just like he did on Tuesday, the former Boston University product provided a calming presence in the middle of the Bruins’ lineup.
David Krejci’s 200th career goal isn’t “just a number”
One goal would’ve likely been enough to extend Boston’s win streak to eight straight. It certainly didn’t hurt then when Krejci added another tally for good measure.
Krejci’s tip on a Charlie McAvoy’s wrist shot from the point marked his 200th career NHL tally. The stoic Czech centerman downplayed the milestone’s significance during his postgame Q&A.
“I’ve said it before, it’s just a number for me. It’s not something that I’m chasing,” Krejci said. “I’m just happy that we won. Hopefully, we can make something good here.”
Sure, Krejci has bigger goals in front of him. His 200 goals aren’t as significant compared to some of his previous accolades. Yet, his latest accomplishment signified another moment of his eventful decade-plus career in Boston.
Tim Rosenthal serves as the Managing Editor of Bruins Daily. He started contributing videos to the site in 2010 before fully coming on board during the Bruins' Stanley Cup run in 2011. His bylines over the last decade have been featured on Boston.com, FoxSports.com, College Hockey News, Patch and Inside Hockey. You can follow Tim on Twitter @_TimRosenthal.
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