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  • What we learned: Bruins power play finally cashes in

    Tim Rosenthal October 22, 2022

    “If at first you don’t succeed, try, try, try again.”

    NESN’s Jack Edwards echoed a sentiment heard around the hub following Taylor Hall’s clincher on a 4-on-3 power play during the Bruins’ thrilling 4-3 overtime win over the Minnesota Wild on Saturday afternoon.

    The Bruins nearly put one of their best well-rounded efforts to waste after blowing a 3-1 lead. A pair of tips from Matt Boldy and Jared Spurgeon in the second and third periods turned the first TD Garden matinee into a three-point game.

    Jim Montgomery’s squad wasted one chance with a 4-on-3 advantage to start the extra session. And they found themselves in the same spot toward the end of overtime after David Krejci drew a trip on Kirill Kaprizov.

    Marc-Andre Fleury stood tall throughout the extra session, denying multiple bids from Krejci, Hall, Patrice Bergeron, David Pastrnak. But the Bruins got the better of Fleury in the end after Hall buried a one-timer past Fleury on Pastrnak’s nifty feed to secure Boston’s fifth win of the season.

    “We haven’t had a whole lot of practice time with the schedule being the way it is. So our power play hasn’t been as connected as we wanted to be, but you get the job done. If you get two opportunities [in overtime] you have to make due,” Hall said after notching his second goal in as many games.

    “It was an amazing play by Pasta [Pastrnak]. He had the whole rink on the other side, and I had the whole net.”

    Here are a few other takeaways from Saturday following a needed breakthrough on the power play winner.

    The Bruins put on a penalty-killing clinic in the third.

    The Bruins put forth one of their better-checking games of the season until they ran into penalty trouble early in the third.

    Craig Smith, Connor Clifton and Hampus Lindholm committed infractions within a 2:50 timespan. Boston’s busy penalty kill had to dig deep to keep the Minnesota power play in check — including a pair of 5-on-3 situations — during that four-minute stretch.

    Stout work from Patrice Bergeron, Derek Forbort and Clifton, who had a breakaway chance out of the box shortly after his cross-checking penalty expired, prevented the Wild from adding another power play tally after Matt Boldy notched a tip-in marker during a 5-on-4 chance in the middle stanza. The Bruins disrupted the high-danger area and kept the Wild to the perimeter of their attacking zone, allowing just four shots on net over those four minutes.

    “We have some really good guys like Bergy, Forby [Forbort] and Cliffy [Clifton],” Lindholm said. “The whole team was buying in and doing those little things you have to do to be successful on the PK. You just have to outwork them out there, and I think we did that tonight.”

    The Bruins returned to their structured formula from the first two periods. Their only blemish aside from the trio of ill-timed penalties came on Jared Spurgeon’s tip with 4:21 remaining in regulation.

    The power play persevered to net the game-winner. But the bounce-back trend began after Brandon Duhaime buried a shorthanded breakaway 1:55 in.

    Nick Foligno’s bounce-back year continued.

    What a difference a year makes.

    In 2021-22, Foligno embarked on a disappointing first year in Boston, notching two goals in 64 games.

    On Saturday, the former Blue Jackets captain notched his third goal in six games with another timely marker to tie things up at 1-1 a mere 1:17 after Duhaime’s marker.


    After a year filled with injuries and healthy scratches — and upon clearing waivers following training camp — Foligno has settled into his fourth-line role with Tomas Nosek centering and a rotating cast of wingers opposite him.

    Foligno’s early-season offensive production is a significant bonus. His attention to detail showcased itself with every outing through drawn penalties and extensive stretches of puck possession.

    “I’m just excited about contributing any way I can. I think last year was obviously different,” Foligno said of his early-season success. “This year it’s about contributing on the score sheet… but also just the way I play and how I’m able to help drive the bottom six here and make sure we have an identity each and every night.”

    Of course, Foligno isn’t the only Bruin thriving so far. And they find themselves on an early roll without their top defenseman (Charlie McAvoy) and first-line left-winger (Brad Marchand).

    “That’s the reason why everyone is having success this year. Everyone is contributing and not just myself,” Foligno added. “There are so many good guys that have made really good plays throughout the start of the season.”

    Craig Smith earned a milestone in his return.

    Sometimes coaches use the opening month of the season to find their ideal forward trios and defensive pairings. It isn’t unusual to see some of the early-season standouts sit for a game in order to give coaching staffs an extensive look at other candidates for long-term roles, particularly on the third and fourth lines.

    And sometimes, a usually reliable option may have to sit following an early-season slump. Smith found himself in that predicament earlier this week as a healthy scratch for the past two games.

    Smith returned on Saturday in his right-wing spot on the third line with Charlie Coyle and Trent Frederic. Although he committed one of the three minor penalties in the third, the veteran winger had his skating legs going in his first game since Monday.

    With Smith back at his usual spot, Boston’s third line sustained a healthy rhythm. The Bruins outshot the Wild 6-0 in 6:04 of 5v5 time with the Frederic-Coyle-Smith trio.

    Smith’s effort paid off in the second period after assisting on Lindholm’s second goal of the season, with Matt Grzelcyk also notching a helper. Both Smith and Grzelcyk earned a milestone with their respective 400th and 100th career point to help extend Boston’s lead to 3-1 toward the midway point of the second frame.

    “I thought Craig Smith was outstanding,” Montgomery said. “I’m glad he got rewarded with his 400th career point.”

    Montgomery may keep Smith in his role for Tuesday’s matchup with Dallas. Yet, the first-year Bruins coach will likely continue his interchangeable approach to the bottom as he further evaluates his cast of third and fourth liners.

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    Tim Rosenthal

    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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