It appeared that old habits were coming back to haunt the Boston Bruins against the Winnipeg Jets. But they settled back into a groove on a pair of third-period goals from Taylor Hall and Charlie McAvoy and secured an important 4-2 win on Friday night.
Winnipeg evened the score 2-2 early in the final frame after the Bruins notched the game’s first two goals during the middle stanza. But the B’s withstood the Jets’ rally as they struck twice in the final minutes of regulation with a power-play tally and shorthanded empty-net marker to secure a bounce-back win.
“The third was not perfect to start by any means, but we wanted to win and it showed,” Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy said. “End of a road trip, desperate team at home with some momentum and we got the game back. Credit to the guys in the room for keeping their composure and upping their game when they needed to.”
Brad Marchand and Trent Frederic potted the Bruins’ first two goals while goalie Linus Ullmark grabbed his 19th win of the season with a 27-save performance.
The Jets had a prime opportunity to take a 1-0 lead in the first period on a penalty shot attempt by Nikolaj Ehlers, but Ullmark turned it aside. Neither team found twine at the end of the opening period.
Marchand tucked in his 25th goal of the season on a heads-up pass from Jake DeBrusk during a 2-on-1 odd-man rush early in the second period.
Less than three minutes later, Frederic picked up a loose puck in the slot and danced around Jets goalie Connor Hellebuyck to double the B’s lead at 2-0.
The Jets struck quickly in the third with two goals 1:25 apart to briefly tie it at 2-2. Adam Lowry and Ehlers scored for the hosts on a deflection and five-hole tally, respectively.
The Bruins received a couple of power plays later on in the frame. They took advantage on their fourth and final man-advantage opportunity of the evening as Hall jammed in the go-ahead tally just outside the Winnipeg crease.
McAvoy capped off Boston’s 39th win of the season after burying the empty-netter off an odd-man rush with less than a minute remaining in regulation.
Here’s what we learned after the Bruins grounded the Jets on Friday.
Coyle turns in another strong game
A season-high three-assist night for the East Weymouth native highlighted another strong performance for the Bruins’ third-line center.
Coyle has earned points in seven of his last nine games as his chemistry with Frederic and Craig Smith continues to grow.
“He’s probably our next highest-minute, highest-responsibility throughout the game centerman,” Cassidy said of Coyle. “On the numbered second line or third line, however you want to look at it, he’s going to play the most minutes, and I think he understands that and he relishes those opportunities and responsibilities.
“He’s doing a really good job pulling that line along and playing the way they need to in the offensive zone. The goal [Frederic] scored, we had talked about getting to the interior against Winnipeg. They have some smaller D, a couple of really big ones, but some smaller ones, and statistically, they don’t defend the slot that well for whatever reason, so get inside there and Charlie started that.”
With Patrice Bergeron (arm injury) out of the lineup for the second straight game, Coyle provided a steadying presence on a line that has consistently put up points over the last couple of weeks.
Coyle has also provided value filling in for Bergeron on the top power-play unit. The veteran center has notched assists on the man advantage in back-to-back games, including Hall’s goal Friday.
“When you play, anyone who’s competitive — when you lose a game you want to come right back and redeem yourself and win,” Coyle said. “That’s something we always talk about. We lose one, we’re chomping at the bit to come back and have a good game. That’s what you need, especially during the later stages of the season and into the playoffs where, playoff time, you’re not going to win every game, there’s going to be games you lose. It’s how you respond and you got to respond quick because it can get away from you.”
The last time the Bruins lost consecutive games in regulation was in early February against the Pittsburgh Penguins and Carolina Hurricanes. Their last back-to-back losses of any kind came a week later against the New York Rangers (shootout) and Islanders.
Pastrnak has injury scare
An awkward fall into the end boards on an exchange with Ullmark sent David Pastrnak to the locker room late in the first period.
Pastrnak apparently grabbed his torso before exiting the ice. But Boston’s leading-goal scorer returned in the second period and played the rest of the game, finishing with seven shots on net.
The 2014 first-round selection has played in every B’s game this season.
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