Jim Montgomery’s squad held the Rangers to 20 shots on net. The Bruins received more timely goals throughout the lineup, with Charlie Coyle and Trent Frederic pacing the bottom six on their third-period tallies. They established some moments for the highlight reel, with David Pastrnak scoring on an impossible angle in the first and Frederic and A.J. Greer showcasing some old-time hockey moments during a mini-line brawl, albeit after a clean hit by Braden Schneider on Frederic during the middle stanza.
The Bruins encountered their hiccups, allowing a pair of equalizers with Jimmy Vesey notching his first of the year on a stellar feed from Mika Zibenajad in the second and Adam Fox firing a wrister from the point past Linus Ullmark. But that didn’t stop them from putting forth another well-rounded, 60-minute effort.
“We’re playing hard for one another. We’re finding different ways to win, and different guys are stepping up every night. That’s just a sign of a good team,” B’s forward Nick Foligno said to ESPN’s Emily Kaplan following his two-assist night. “We’re really proud of the fact that we care a lot about each other in that room. We found that camaraderie, that brotherhood, and it’s worked for us.”
Fresh off his OT winner in the Steel City, Hampus Lindholm capped off another stellar outing with an empty-net tally.
Here’s what we learned as the Bruins earned their first 10-1-0 start in franchise history following Thursday’s 5-2 win at Madison Square Garden.
Greer and Frederic bring the fight back to the Bruins.
Montgomery’s crew never trailed on Thursday. But they needed a spark after Vesey scored New York’s first tying marker at 10:21 of the second stanza.
Frederic took the brunt end of a clean hit from Schneider on the ensuing shift. Instead of skating away, Frederic challenged Schneider to engage in more physicality. Seconds later, Greer arrived at the altercation and dropped the gloves with Schneider, which then prompted Barclay Goodrow into a bout with Frederic.
Greer earned a 10-minute misconduct for instigating on top of his two for roughing and five for fighting. The sequence led to a Rangers power play. The Bruins didn’t mind the trade-off after their solid work on the penalty kill kept the score at 1-1.
“There was no hesitation in there by them. That’s huge,” Coyle told reporters. “A big hit like that can sway them. Freddy [Frederic] gets right up, and he goes at it, and Greer jumps in and he takes a guy. That says a lot about them on what they’re willing to do and what we’re willing to do for each other. That’s good stuff. We’ll kill it off any day.”
The Bruins stymied New York’s momentum after relinquishing the early 1-0 lead. They regrouped in the third for one of their better 20-minute outings of the year.
Frederic played a pivotal role in that four-goal third period after Fox tied the game at 2-2 just 48 seconds after Coyle notched his fourth tally in as many games. Several minutes removed from his second-period bout, the maligned 2016 first-round selection put the Bruins ahead for good at 6:04 of the final frame after firing a one-timer past Igor Shesterkin.
“That shows the commitment to the team. Our guys get hit; we don’t like it. Obviously, they’re targeting a few guys tonight. That’s the way they’re going to play; we’re going to play the same way. Not taking out their best players, but eliminating them and making it hard on him,” Foligno said to the media. “You stand up for one another. That’s the Bruin way. That’s the culture that’s been built here.”
Foligno’s redemption tour continued.
Like Frederic, Foligno drew the ire of Bruins fans a year ago. The former Blue Jackets captain didn’t know if he’d have the chance to bounce back in Boston after GM Don Sweeney placed him on waivers following training camp. None of the other 31 NHL teams claimed Foligno, paving the way for the veteran to start his season in a fourth-line role.
Foligno already surpassed his scoring production from a year ago. He continued his redemption tour on Thursday after assisting on the third-period tallies from Coyle and Frederic.
“Just to come in and know that my work was going to be rewarded… putting last year behind me and play with the abilities that I have and have fun. This group has allowed me to do that.” Foligno told Kaplan in their postgame interview on ESPN+. “I care about this team and what we’re trying to do here, and I’m grateful to do that.”
Foligno didn’t tally a single shot on goal on Thursday. Yet, he generated quality looks in the attacking zone with his stout forecheck and physical presence.
After starting the night in his usual spot with Tomas Nosek and Jakub Lauko, Montgomery moved Foligno up the depth chart in various roles during the third period. Perhaps Foligno will find himself with a more prominent role following his early-season success. Yet, Montgomery doesn’t need to alter his lineup much — if at all — given Boston’s historic start.
Montgomery will continue to ride Ullmark’s hot hand.
Here’s one decision Montgomery won’t budge on.
Part of Montgomery and Bob Esenssa’s thought process on the goaltending outlook likely changed a tad once Jeremy Swayman left Tuesday’s tilt against the Penguins with a lower-body injury. Swayman returned to Boston along with defenseman Derek Forbort (broken right finger) earlier this week.
But Ullmark also showcased his growth through this opening stretch of the year. The Swede became the first Bruin to win his first eight starts since Tim Thomas accomplished the feat during the Cup-winning 2010-11 campaign.
“He’s playing well,” Montgomery told reporters about sticking with Ullmark for Saturday’s tilt in Toronto. “[There’s] good chemistry in there right now, so there’s no sense to make too many changes.”
At times, Ullmark had to bail a transitioning Boston D out with multiple stops on odd-man rushes and quality looks in prime scoring areas. On Thursday, despite relinquishing extensive puck possession time in spurts, the B’s blue line kept Ullmark’s crease clean and prevented quality primary and secondary scoring chances.
“They had a lot of possession time, but did they get anything?” Montgomery asked.
“To me, we showed great poise. This is the best game management game we’ve had without the puck. The Rangers are a really good hockey team, and they had us on the ropes there. But we kept them to the outside, and we had really good team defense. We were really happy with our play. You’re going to get a push from good teams. It’s going to happen.”
The Rangers pushed back during the second period and early in the third. But Boston’s confidence never wavered as they closed the curtain on another victory.
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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