CHICAGO — The Boston Bruins faced a pair of challenging tasks in their Original Six matchup with the Blackhawks Tuesday night at the United Center. But once again, they shined in their moments of perseverance.
Marc-Andre Fleury auditioned his skillset to other potential suitors ahead of Monday’s trade deadline. He put forth one of the better goaltending clinics of the NHL season.
The Bruins threw everything but the proverbial kitchen sink against the Blackhawks netminder. But they didn’t deviate from the game plan, increasing the net-front pressure in front of Fleury’s crease, and eventually got a greasy goal on Patrice Bergeron’s 17th of the season for the 1-0 lead.
Yet, they found themselves back at square on Brandon Hagel’s equalizer just 4:52 after Bergeron’s marker. Then they had to regroup after a head-scratching goaltending interference review robbed Charlie Coyle of the go-ahead marker.
Their resilience paid off in overtime. Matt Grzelcyk buried a wrist shot past Fleury off a Taylor Hall feed during the 3-on-3 extra session.
“We were finally able to get the goal in overtime to win 3-1,” head coach Bruce Cassidy said following Boston’s 2-1 victory. “I’ve watched [the replay] 10 times, and I still don’t see where there’s goaltender interference.”
Be it a 2-1 or even a 3-1 outcome; the Bruins came away with two deserving points after outshooting the Blackhawks 48-20. Here’s what we learned as Cassidy’s crew improved to 10-1-1 in their last 12 games.
Bruins overcome Fleury and Coyle robbery
The Bruins preach on living in the moment. At times, however, the theory becomes challenging to achieve.
Tuesday’s outcome provided a prime example of establishing the short-term mindset. The Bruins watched Fleury stand on his proverbial head during his 46-save outing. Then they had to overcome the officials’ head-scratching decision to keep Coyle’s disallowed goal intact, beginning with the ensuing penalty kill after Cassidy’s failed challenge.
It didn’t matter. Cassidy remained confident his team would pull through after his decision to challenge the Coyle goal. The resilient Bruins remained confident they’d get one more goal past Fleury.
“Some teams might panic a little bit expecting to be up a goal with five minutes left,” Grzelcyk said after notching his third tally of the season. “The coaching staff had a good message: ‘let’s put it behind us and keep going.’ I think we had a good first two periods. It can be really frustrating when you put up 40 shots or so and the puck is not going in. But we’re going really well right now. Just kind of stick with it, and good things will happen.”
Indeed, the good moments happened for the Bruins. And one player, in particular, notched a pair of assists after escaping a near nightmare scenario.
Hall delivers in OT after near scary moment
The Bruins knew they’d need a greasy goal to finally beat Fleury. They got that in the third on Bergeron’s mid-air marker shortly after Boston’s fourth and final power play attempt expired. The sequence nearly ended in disaster for Hall after taking a skate blade to the face from Stillman on the doorstep.
Amid discomfort, Hall joined Bergeron and the rest of the power-play unit in celebration. But he’s seen his share of nicks, bumps and bruises, in his first season serving in a net-front role on the power play.
With a shiny new mark on his face, the Bruins called on Hall again in the 3-on-3 overtime with Grzelcyk on the back-end and fellow second-line winger David Pastrnak establishing extended puck possession. The trio each touched the puck, with Pastrnak feeding Hall an outlet feed and Grzelcyk capping off the OT clincher after beating Fleury with a slick wrist shot.
“He’s playing hard for us,” Cassidy said of Hall. “He’s been in front of the net on that power play, and he’s been a good part of it. Our power play has been statistically one of the better ones in the league, and he’s become one of the five guys that’s been a regular on it and is doing his job. That’s a little bit of the dirty work. Thank god it wasn’t more serious, because when it is a skate, you never know. But he’s been good in overtime, especially with Pasta… they do play well together and they make plays.”
Foligno reaches the 1,000-game milestone
It took a little while for Nick Foligno to settle into a role during his first season with the Bruins. Amid a tough statistical season, however, the longtime Blue Jackets captain fit right into Boston’s culture the very first day he stepped foot inside the B’s locker room.
Foligno battled through injuries and inconsistencies for part of the year, yet had an eventful few weeks on Boston’s recent pair of road trips. The Columbus faithful greeted Foligno with open arms in his return on Mar. 6. Nine days later, the veteran winger joined his father Mike, a 15-year NHL vet, in the 1,000-game club.
“I’m not really one to think about myself too often, so…” Foligno said following Boston’s morning skate. “First of all, I’m really enjoying being with this group, and I’m really happy that it comes with this group. I care about these guys a lot in the short time that I’ve been with them. Just looking around, it was nice to be together in that way.”
Foligno received a friendly ovation from the United Center crowd after officially entering his 1,000th game during the first TV timeout. He ended his night with one shot on net and 8:32 time on ice.
The eventful road trip continues for Foligno with Wednesday’s matchup in Minnesota against his younger brother, Marcus.
The Bruins announced they’ll honor Foligno’s 1,000th game with a pregame ceremony on Apr. 2 before their tilt with the Blue Jackets at TD Garden.
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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