Detroit scored the game’s first goal with a Tyler Bertuzzi strike midway through the first period, but Boston scored five unanswered goals to improve to 16-10-2 and leapfrog the Red Wings in the Eastern Conference playoff picture.
Patrice Bergeron knotted the game at 1-1 in the first with his 11th goal of the season. Erik Haula gave the Bruins the lead in the second on a rip from the dot, then three third period goals from Charlie McAvoy, Trent Frederic and Tomas Nosek pushed Boston to its second consecutive win following a 16-day break.
Jeremy Swayman earned his first win in net for the Bruins since Dec. 2 with the 23-save performance.
Here’s what we learned after the Bruins’ second victory in as many days.
More Bruins forwards starting to find their offensive rhythm
The Bergeron line has carried the Bruins’ offense in recent years. Bergeron, Brad Marchand and David Pastrnak have historically formed one of the NHL’s top trios. But since the switch to 2022, the Bruins have received goals from all four lines.
Haula finished a high-end chance against the Red Wings for his second goal of the season while centering the second line. Frederic and Nosek, occupying the fourth line, also notched their respective first and third goals of the season.
Saturday against the Sabres, Craig Smith was the only Bruin on the top line to record a goal in their 4-3 win with Nick Foligno, Taylor Hall and Charlie Coyle cashing in.
Haula and Foligno’s strikes were especially encouraging as both of them have had slow starts offensively to their Bruins tenures. Against Detroit, Haula capitalized once and nearly scored again with a backhander that hit the post.
Moved up to the second line with Pastrnak and Hall, Haula seems to have benefitted from the line shuffle.
“I felt like my game was headed toward the right direction before all the stuff happened,” Haula said. “I thought my game elevated when I got put on the wing and I feel like it’s been trending and going toward what I expect of myself. Hopefully, I can keep building and producing a little bit more.”
Hall, who set up McAvoy with an impressive assist in the third, also looks rejuvenated after picking up points in two straight games.
While consistency remains key, the early returns look promising for a Bruins team that has struggled to get goals from around the lineup.
“When you split it up, I guess the only thing I’ll say is there might be a little more oxygen in the room for secondary guys,” Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy said. “How we deploy them, the [first line] gets a lot of o-zone draws because they’re good at it. They run plays from it, it helps the team win, they score. A little bit of the onus falls on the rest of the group to learn from what they do well, not try to be them but replicate them in certain ways.”
The Bruins capitalized on momentum during a chippy second period
The second period provided the turning point against the Red Wings thanks to a few scraps prior to Haula’s go-ahead tally.
First, Marchand and Vladislav Namestnikov exchanged fists about three minutes into the frame. Then a scrum around Swayman resulted in unsportsmanlike conduct penalties to the Bruins netminder and Detroit’s Sam Gagner.
Just 13 seconds after the matching penalties expired, Haula netted the goal that swung the momentum to the Bruins and quieted the Red Wings faithful.
An emotional spike can either help or hurt a team. Even Swayman felt the need to get involved and stand up for his teammates.
“I didn’t like the situation. I was getting kind of held on the back of my helmet; I’m going to stand up for myself,” Swayman said. “At the same time, if he’s going to mess with my guys, I’m going to do my part and protect my guys. I thought we did a good job of that.
“Obviously we killed off a good penalty, thanks for that, and then Haula got a goal, so we were happy with that,” Swayman added.
The game cooled down in the third, but the Bruins kept the offense rolling with three insurance markers in a critical Atlantic Division contest.
Sunday’s win pushed the Bruins into the playoff picture
Given Boston’s unusual early-season schedule and the COVID-19/holiday pause, they’ve played the fewest games and have been chasing teams with more games played for a postseason spot.
The victory against the Red Wings bumped the Bruins into the second wild-card spot and upped their point percentage to .607.
Obviously, the Bruins will need to pile up wins to maintain a playoff spot. But they’ll gladly take the bonus of jumping into the top-eight spot in the East following a strong four-point weekend.
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