The good times continued for the Boston Bruins on an afternoon where they honored Zdeno Chara for his 1,500th game. But the Bruins and Arizona Coyotes embroiled in a pair of controversial moments following the pregame celebration at TD Garden.
Jeremy Lauzon’s high hit on Derek Stepan late in the first period ended his afternoon. Phil Kessel scored his 12th of the season during that five-minute power play.
Trailing 1-0 for the second straight game, the Bruins battled back following another questionable hit from Lawson Crouse on Charlie McAvoy. Crouse, unlike Lauzon, only received a two-minute minor for roughing.
Charlie Coyle delivered his first of two goals of the afternoon a mere four seconds after Crouse’s penalty expired. Patrice Bergeron and Jake DeBrusk each tipped a David Pastrnak shot past Adin Hill to give the Bruins a pair of power-play tallies just 2:29 apart to give the Bruins a 3-1 lead heading into the second intermission,
Jakob Chychrun cut the Bruins lead to 3-2 just 26 seconds into the final stanza. But Tuukka Rask (29 saves) held strong as the Coyotes pushed for the equalizer and Coyle, in one of his better performances of the season, capped off the victory with an empty netter.
Here’s what we learned following Boston’s sixth straight victory.
Chara puts his milestone in perspective
The Bruins and the City of Boston have been graced with Chara’s presence for nearly 15 years. Both commodities sent their appreciation in return to the 6-foot-9 captain over the last 48 hours.
The gifts started pouring in on Friday when New Balance surprised Chara with a ceremony at Warrior Ice Arena for his latest milestone. Chara took home a street sign and a pair of golden gloves as New Balance also sent a $10,000 donation in his honor to the Italian Home for Children.
The weekend’s events shifted from Guest St. in Brighton to Causeway St. the day after.
The Bruins kicked off the ceremony with a high-quality video presentation featuring several captains from other NHL teams — including Alex Ovechkin, Steven Stamkos and Roman Josi to name a few — congratulating Chara on his prestigious milestone.
The latest round of gifts came pouring in afterward. On this day, the Bruins presented Chara with a golden stick, a home portrait featuring a golden stick, a home portrait, an oil painting and an all-paid expenses trip to take his family anywhere in the world.
Chara, with his family in attendance, displayed his trademark humility during the pregame ceremony. He kept his humble demeanor going inside the locker room after the final buzzer.
“I felt extremely honored and proud. Everybody did such an amazing job to make it as nice as it was,” Chara said. “I was extremely happy that my family was able to be there because those are the ones — especially my wife — that make so many sacrifices over the course of my career…I’m representing so many other people that helped me along the way. Without their help and support, I wouldn’t have been able to play as long [as I have].”
Chara transitioned from pregame honoree to skating in his first shift rather quickly for his 1,539th career game. The Bruins made the pregame ceremony worthwhile to keep their hot streak going.
Bruins thrive in middle stanza following Lauzon’s major
Lauzon put the Bruins in a tough spot when he earned a match penalty for elbowing Stepan at 19:39 of the first. The Bruins then had to dig deep during the ensuing shorthanded situation.
Kessel, now playing with his fourth team, notched the game’s first goal with 1:12 left on that five-minute penalty kill. But the Bruins minimized the damage before finding their power play groove.
“It’s a tough one when you have to kill something off like that. They put one up in the end, but you have to be up with that,” Coyle said about the penalty kill. “You kill something off like that, and you kind of use that to your advantage.”
It wasn’t pretty at first, though. With Crouse in the box, the Bruins struggled to gain traction on their first power play attempt of the middle stanza. But the secondary unit slowly generated chances and cashed in during the ‘vulnerable minute’ when Coyle tapped home a beautiful setup from Charlie McAvoy and David Krejci for his 11th of the season.
The Bruins didn’t waste any time converting on their next chances with the power play. Bergeron tipped in his 23rd of the season a mere six seconds into Boston’s third power play of the night. DeBrusk came back moments later deflecting his 18th of the year past Hill just 22 seconds into the fourth and final chance with the man advantage.
“I thought our power play was slow in terms of their execution and puck movement. I think we picked up our pace there, and that always feeds into the rest of your game,” head coach Bruce Cassidy said in his power play assessment. “There’s a lot of skilled guys touching the puck, so it tends to get them going a little bit. They responded well and from there I thought we were pretty good and limited their chances.”
Comparing Lauzon’s hit to Crouse
Stepan returned to the game following Lauzon’s high hit that earned him a trip to the locker room for the rest of the night. Minutes later, in nearly the exact same spot on the ice, Crouse delivered a hit up high to McAvoy.
Lauzon’s match penalty didn’t set a threshold, though. Instead, the officials only gave Crouse a two-minute minor for his hit on McAvoy that looked a little worse compared to Lauzon’s collision with Stepan.
The league’s inconsistent stance on headshots resonated in this particular situation. Cassidy, in this particular instance, shared that sentiment during his postgame press conference.
“Well, there is in this. Clearly, they’re both very similar hits and you’d like to see more consistency, but again, I don’t want to get onto that soapbox today,” Cassidy said. “They’re going to look at Lauzy [Lauzon]. Listen, I don’t even know if it’s an automatic suspension, I assume it’s a review. I don’t believe last year when he was up he had any issues with the league. I guess we’ll see down the road. That would be my only concern if there’s a suspension. Obviously he’s played well for us. That would be unfortunate.”
Lauzon will likely hear from the NHL’s Player Safety Department following his ejection. Whether they contact Crouse or not is anyone’s guess.
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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