Seven days ago, an injury-plagued Boston Bruins squad fielded an AHL caliber defense in an 8-1 loss to the Washington Capitals at TD Garden. It didn’t take long for Bruce Cassidy’s bunch to forget about that lopsided setback as Don Sweeney provided some needed reinforcements in the final hours of the trade deadline.
The roster makeover following the additions of Taylor Hall, Curtis Lazar and Mike Reilly provided a tightly-knit Bruins locker room with a shot in the arm. The trade deadline trio has smoothly transitioned to their new home since their respective arrivals from Buffalo and Ottawa.
With the Capitals once again in town for Sunday’s matinee, the Bruins didn’t miss a beat. Sparked by a stellar outing from the to two lines, the B’s earned a character 6-3 win over the East Division-leading Caps.
Here’s what we learned from Boston’s fourth straight victory.
The Bruins finally have a formidable top-six
“The big boys came to play today on both lines,” Cassidy said. “And we’re dangerous when that happens.”
The Bruins are no longer a one-line team following Hall’s arrival. The trickle-down effect produced significant wins over the Islanders and Capitals this week.
A red-hot Hall tallied goals on consecutive nights against the Isles and added a secondary assist on David Krejci’s second goal on Sunday. Craig Smith tallied helpers on both of Krejci’s tallies giving him 18 points in his last 16 games.
Brad Marchand — now with 700 career NHL points following his four-point outing — and Patrice Bergeron haven’t missed a beat all season. The potent duo also netted a pair in Sunday’s win. David Pastrnak broke out of one of the worst slumps of his career with six points in his last three games, including a trio of assists in Sunday’s win.
Marchand, Bergeron and Krejci each found dazzling ways to light the lamp against the Caps in timely manners.
The potent Bergeron, Marchand duo connected on a crafty shorthanded tally in the first period with Connor Clifton serving a double-minor for high-sticking.
After serving his first of two double-minors, Clifton delivered a nifty cross-ice feed to Krejci giving the Bruins a two-goal cushion late in the opening 20.
After Marchand’s equalizer in the middle stanza, a patient Krejci put the Bruins ahead for good at 16:05.
Bergeron gave the Bruins a cushion to work with a mere 1:43 after Krejci’s second of the afternoon, connecting on a tic-tac-goal sequence with Marchand and Pastrnak during a 3-on-2 rush.
The Bruins rode their top-six to victory on Sunday. This won’t be the last time you’ll read that statement.
The B’s passed Sunday’s adversity test
Cassidy only trotted out Clifton for two shifts following his second high-stick infraction resulting in a four-minute double minor. The Bruins salvaged their first four-minute kill of the afternoon following timely saves from Tuukka Rask and Bergeron’s shorthanded marker at 12:02 of the opening stanza. They weren’t so fortunate the second time around.
The Capitals pulled within one with 9.9 ticks remaining in the opening stanza after Charlie McAvoy and Mike Reilly found themselves in no man’s land on T.J. Oshie’s rebound tally. Oshie and Anthony Mantha struck a mere 1:06 apart early in the middle stanza to put the Caps ahead 3-2 during their second four-minute power-play attempt.
The Bruins saw their lead go wayside 4:54 into the middle 20. They wasted little time re-establishing their footing with Marchand notching his 22nd goal of the season a mere 1:39 after Mantha netted his fifth lamplighter in as many games.
“That’s the poise you want to see during the course of the game,” Bergeron said following his three-point afternoon. “I think when you’ve been there before, it’s about staying with it, worrying about the next shift and try to learn from what just happened. They took the lead and we knew if we played the right way, we can get back in games — we’ve done it many times before. So it was nice to see that poise and that confidence.”
Between the injuries and youth movement, the Bruins might have caved in weeks past. But the rejuvenated bunch regained confidence with a pair of marquee wins over the Islanders.
Amidst Sunday’s adversity, the Bruins never wavered. They quickly regained their composure and never looked back during another heavy tilt against the Capitals.
Garnet Hathaway joined Tom Wilson on Boston’s villain list
Wilson’s reputation around hockey circles hardly resembles that of a saint. His dirty hit on Brandon Carlo earlier in early March didn’t ender himself within his fellow peers.
Behind a chorus of boos from a socially distant TD Garden fanbase, Wilson nearly provided another excuse for a hearing from the NHL Player Safety Department. Though he delivered a high hit to Sean Kuraly in the third period, the Caps forward didn’t intend to deliver forcible contact to the head as Boston’s fourth line winger tucked his head before the collision.
Wilson’s latest hit looked worse live than it did on replay. Jarred Tinordi came to the aid of Kuraly only to receive a minor penalty for roughing.
“Kuraly was on his way down and Wilson was prepared to hit him. But I thought that was one of those incidental [hits],” Cassidy said of Wilson’s hit to Kuraly. “There’s not so much you can do once a guy starts tumbling down.”
It’s hard to see the Player Safety Department scheduling a hearing for Wilson this time around. But they may have their hands full with one of his teammates.
Garnet Hathaway tried to get under the Bruins’ skin on multiple occasions on Sunday. His first go-around came on a late hit at the end of the first period. Hathaway somehow escaped without incident as Nic Dowd and Lazar received matching minors for roughing at the 20:00 mark of the opening stanza.
Upon a third-period review, Hathaway didn’t escape discipline after boarding Tinordi from behind. The Kennebunkport, Maine, product received a five-minute major and a game misconduct following his unnecessary hit on Tinordi.
“The Hathaway hit,” Cassidy said, “it’s from behind. It’s tough for Jarred [Tinordi]. He comes out with some facial injuries, and hopefully, he’s not concussed. But at the end of the day, that’s boarding.”
The Bruins and Caps already engaged in seven physically-induced tilts. Their final scheduled contest of the regular season takes place on May 11 in Washington.
There’s no love lost between these two teams during this unique season. And to think, these two teams could meet seven more times potentially come playoff time…
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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