Bruce Cassidy’s squad, carrying a season-long five-game skid into Saturday’s tilt with the Panthers, determined to put an end to their rut from the get-go.
Sure, they encountered a rare lull or two in South Florida, especially in the third period where the Panthers scored twice hoping to erase a 3-0 deficit, but the Bruins never wavered. They came out flying from the opening stanza and sustained a solid pace throughout the 60 minutes en route to their 4-2 victory to close out the four-game road trip.
“It hasn’t been what we wanted from this road trip,” Jake DeBrusk said to the media postgame. “It’s one of those things that we’re not necessarily happy with how the road trip went, but you kind of go as your last game goes. Coming back home and feeling good about ourselves is always a good thing, especially where things weren’t looking too good there.”
The Bruins head home with a little more optimism after notching their first win in 11 days. Here’s what we learned following their solid outing in Sunrise.
The top line led the way in a well-rounded effort
The potent trio of Brad Marchand, Patrice Bergeron and David Pastrnak were hardly an issue during the five-game skid. Boston’s top line picked up right where they left off after Bergeron returned to the lineup in Ottawa on Monday night following a seven-game absence with a lingering lower-body injury.
At least one of Marchand, Bergeron or Pastrnak tallied a point during the first three games of this road trip. They each notched at least one point again in their tone-setting night against Boston’s Atlantic Division foes.
Cassidy trotted out Marchand, Bergeron and Pastrnak at the opening puck drop. The trio again dominated in every puck possession statistic and rarely encountered any issues in the defensive end even though they were on the ice when Jaroslav Halak whiffed on a routine shot en route to Keith Yandle’s third-period tally.
Halak didn’t waver for long during his 31-save outing. Heck, Pastrnak wasn’t down for long after Sergei Bobrovsky stopped the crafty Czech on a third-period penalty shot.
The top line set a steady, yet ferocious pace firing 18 of the team’s 42 shots on net. The other three lines fed off that with DeBrusk and David Krejci each providing timely secondary scoring with their respective first and second-period tallies.
Pastrnak notched both of the goals from the top line — one coming on the power play and the other on an empty-netter with a little over two minutes left in regulation.
Speaking of the power play, and for that matter, the penalty kill…
Boston’s special teams got back on track
How bad were the Bruins’ woes on the power play and penalty kill during this skid? Well for starters they entered Saturday having scored just once in 22 power-play attempts, while the shorthanded units allowed four goals in their last 13 chances.
Thursday’s 3-2 loss to the Lightning marked a low point. The man advantage failed to convert on two of their chances and the penalty kill allowed a pair of Tampa power-play goals in three attempts.
Things changed Saturday as Boston’s special teams were indeed special against the Panthers. The Bruins finally found consistency on both special teams units, scoring once in three power-play chances and killing off all three of their shorthanded situations.
The power play failed to convert on their first two attempts, yet they stayed aggressive and looked more like the cohesive unit from earlier this season. At the very least, they kept Sergei Bobrovsky’s and Florida’s penalty killers on its toes with their fluid puck movement and quality scoring chances.
Finally, on the third power-play chance of the night, Pastrnak notched his first of two on a night following a crafty feed from Patrice Bergeron to give the Bruins a 3-0 lead.
“We had some good looks, and we got the goal that we needed,” Pastrnak told reporters postgame. “We’ve been getting chances, but we haven’t [been scoring] goals. So it was getting a little frustrating, but good for us that we got the PP goal.”
The power play found a spark. The penalty kill was equally impressive, allowing a mere five shots on Halak — less than one shot per shorthanded situation.
Cassidy’s squad wend back to its early-season formula of success in almost every facet on Saturday. His special team’s units, like they did for the first two months, provided a spark that the Bruins desperately needed.
Jake DeBrusk hits the 100-point milestone
He’s been on the cusp of a breakthrough for a chunk of the 2019-20 campaign. But perhaps DeBrusk’s milestone night will start another hot stretch.
The Edmonton-born forward notched his 100th career point with a great individual effort in the first period leading to his eighth goal of the season. DeBrusk sprung himself free after skating past a few Florida defenders on a self pass en route to his eighth goal of the season.
He wasn’t done there. DeBrusk provided a nice setup on Krejci’s one-timer to give the Bruins a 2-0 lead 3:14 into the middle stanza.
DeBrusk and Krejci both provide the primary secondary scoring output for Cassidy’s squad. The top line, as stellar as they are, can’t carry the team each and every night. That’s where the Bruins hope they can lean on the second-line catalysts.
The Bruins are 39-5-1 when DeBrusk lights the lamp in the regular season. They may have an even better record if a reliable top-six forward joins DeBrusk and Krejci for another potential deep playoff run.
Good things happen for all parties when DeBrusk lights the lamp. The Bruins and DeBrusk hope that Saturday’s milestone night kicks start another lengthy run.
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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