It wasn’t a hectic come-from-behind effort this time around, but the Boston Bruins needed overtime to extend their winning streak Wednesday night in New York.
Getting to overtime was chaotic in and of itself.
Though Anders Bjork gave his team a 2-1 lead midway through the final stanza, the Bruins had a pair of reviews go against them in the third behind a potential Jake DeBrusk tally and a Brendan Lemieux high-stick prior to the equalizer. Then came a brain fart by Tuukka Rask when he skated toward the Boston bench late in regulation of a 2-2 hockey game.
But Rask (33 saves) and the Bruins got the last laugh in the extra session. Amidst a tough but productive performance, Bruce Cassidy’s squad earned two hard-fought points after Brad Marchand sealed the victory with his breakaway tally a mere 36 seconds into the 3-on-3 OT.
“It was one of those games where we played well enough to get the lead and extend the lead,” Cassidy said following Boston’s 3-2 win. “We played well enough to get ahead, and then they get a break around the net. We didn’t respond well to that tying goal, but you have to put those things behind you and keep playing.”
Here’s what we learned as the Bruins improved to 9-1-2 on the year.
Jokes aside, Rask bailed out the Bruins
Boston’s young D inserted a returning Matt Grzelcyk into the lineup on Wednesday. But they needed Rask in this one after allowing 35 shots on net.
The Rangers sustained a solid rhythm in the offensive end. They developed a handful of quality scoring chances on Rask’s doorstep through their odd-man rushes and their stout puck possession in their attacking zone. Boston’s last one of defense, however, came through with several timely stops.
Yet, Rask’s stellar 33-save outing wasn’t front-page material. Instead, he became the butt end of the joke with his viral gaffe late in the third period.
So what went into Rask’s thought process before heading to the bench?
“I just had something to tell Jaro[slav] [Halak] real quick.” the milk-crate throwing goalie joked. “I honestly thought we were down 2-1. That’s it. I was waiting for Butchy [Cassidy] to waive me over there. There was a minute and a half left, and I just decided to come over when we had the puck, then Chucky [McAvoy] told me it was 2-2.”
Perhaps Rask went into automatic pilot there following Boston’s string of thrilling comebacks. If it weren’t for McAvoy, things could’ve gone awry. Instead, Rask returned to his crease and McAvoy made a brilliant feed to Marchand en route to another OT win.
Nevertheless, Rask’s blunder provided an entertaining viral moment.
“We’re in an entertainment industry,” Rask said. “I’m sure people were shocked at first, but hopefully people got a good laugh out of it.”
Rask’s performance on Wednesday night was no laughing matter. His teammates, however, won’t ever let him off the hook over this.
“Luckily, they didn’t capitalize on that opportunity. But I think Tuukks was just trying to throw everyone off,” Marchand said with a chuckle. “He’s going to catch some heat for that. If anyone is supposed to not be sleeping in the game, it’s supposed to be the goalie. But he made a lot of big saves tonight, so he gets a free pass on that one.”
Jake DeBrusk made his return worthwhile
David Pastrnak’s recovery from a hip ailment forced Cassidy’s hand early in the season. Aside from the potent duo of Marchand and Patrice Bergeron on the first line and Chris Wagner and Sean Kuraly stabilizing the fourth line, the fifth-year Bruins bench boss often threw his lines into a proverbial blender.
DeBrusk found himself mixing and matching within the top six in Boston’s first six games, even earning minutes with Marchand and Bergeron. He was slowly finding a steady groove before sustaining a lower-body injury against the Penguins on Jan. 26.
The Edmonton-born forward returned to the lineup Wednesday night, skating on the third line with Charlie Coyle and Anders Bjork. He had his jump from the get-go, pursuing the puck with speed and pace in all three zones en route to a game-high seven shots on net.
DeBrusk nearly netted his first goal of the season after tucking a shot underneath the crossbar. Upon review, however, the officials went with the original no-goal call after the puck didn’t fully cross the goal-line.
The review didn’t rattle DeBrusk. The 2015 first rounder bounced back, delivering a brilliant back-of-the-net feed to Bjork for his second assist of the year, giving Boston a 2-1 lead with 11 minutes left in regulation.
“He certainly wasn’t trying to overpass; he was just trying to put pucks on net. Goal scorers do that, and eventually, it goes in,” Cassidy said of DeBrusk. “I like to see him do that every night — to have that mentality no matter who his center or winger is.”
DeBrusk provides stability in the secondary scoring department. He may find himself reuniting with David Krejci on the second line at some point. But his familiarity with Coyle and Bjork gives Cassidy another option. On Wednesday, DeBrusk made the most of his time with his ‘new’ linemates.
Marchand sounds off on replay reviews
For the most part, the Bruins and Rangers developed a good back and forth pace. Both teams only had two power plays each to go along with 33 total faceoffs — below average for a 60-minute NHL game.
But they still had some interruptions, particularly with video review. The Bruins found themselves on the wrong end of two instant replay looks in the third with DeBrusk’s potential tally and Lemieux’s high-stick seconds before Kevin Rooney’s equalizer.
Cassidy could’ve used a coaches challenge on Lemieux’s high-stick. He opted not to after the officials paused the game following their own extended look.
The NHL tried a go-around with inserting chip-based technology inside the puck. They halted the puck-tracking experiment shortly into the new year following poor reviews.
Either way, Marchand isn’t happy with replay stoppages and attempts to improve the game through technology.
“All the video and all that [technology] stuff, it really bothers me,” Marchand said. “Hockey is a game of mistakes, not only by the players, but by the referees and that’s part of what makes it a good sport.”
Finding a delicate balance between human error and advanced technology isn’t easy. The league had some good intentions when they implemented expanded replay in 2015. But as Wednesday showed, the instant replay process tempered the flow of an entertaining hockey game inside the world’s most famous arena.
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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