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  • What we learned: Bruins bounce back with another character win

    Tim Rosenthal December 29, 2022

    For the second time in as many weeks, the New Jersey Devils awaited a traveling Boston Bruins squad that arrived in Newark on short rest.

    The result remained the same.

    Fresh off a tough shootout loss in Ottawa 24 hours prior, the Bruins struggled to generate quality scoring bids against Vitek Vanecek and the Devils. But even with tired legs, they remained an opportunistic bunch during Wednesday’s grinder at Newark’s Prudential Center.

    After peppering Cam Talbot with 51 shots the night before, the Bruins had to lean on Linus Ullmark to carry them in the latter half of their latest back-to-back. In a tight-checking tilt, the Swede delivered another Vezina-worthy performance with his 29-save outing. His only blemish came on a Nico Hilscher equalizer at 6:11 of the final frame as the New Jersey captain snuck into the crease for his 14th goal of the season off a slick cross-corner feed from Fabian Zetterlund.

    Hampus Lindholm notched primary assists on Trent Frederic’s opening marker in the second frame and Patrice Bergeron’s go-ahead tip with 4:09 left in regulation.

    Former Devil Pavel Zacha sealed Boston’s 3-1 victory with the empty-netter for his second goal in as many tilts following his 18-game goal drought.

    Here’s what we learned from the B’s penultimate game before the Winter Classic.

    Bruins continue to showcase character during their lulls

    The Bruins’ second-period hiccups against the Sens put them in catch-up mode. Their passing appeared off and struggled to counter Ottawa’s speed during that middle 20.

    Bergeron and company looked a tad off again with their passes and entries into the attacking zone. Their defensive structure sometimes unraveled, but they overcame another set of hiccups.

    It took a greasy goal on Bergeron’s tip to put the Bruins ahead for good. But the tight-checking game likely benefitted the Bruins on this night.

    Instead of trading quality scoring chances for the second straight night, the Bruins developed more attention to detail. They allowed their share of chances in high-danger areas but also created a handful of takeaways and disrupted shooting lanes against the struggling Devils.

    At times, the Bruins dazzled their way to win with highlight-reel moments. Aside from Ullmark’s save on Dawson Mercer in the middle 20 and Vanecek’s incredible doorstep stop on Jake DeBrusk in the final stanza, the Bruins and Devils hardly provided any viral moments in Wednesday’s tilt.


    They battled through some frustrations, but Boston’s tight-knit group delivered a blue-collar effort and improved to 28-4-3.

    Ullmark and Lindholm shook off the Hischiser’s tally

    In a sport of mistakes, a fortunate bounce can swing momentum at any given moment. And even the best-positioned players sometimes can’t catch a break.

    Amid their solid performances, both Lindholm and Ullmark found themselves in a challenging circumstance on Hischier’s equalizer. The pair of veterans just missed out on a timely poke check as Zetterlund’s corner feed reached the side of the goal mouth. The extra second allowed Hilscher to skate into the crease for the tying marker.

    But Lindholm and Ullmark had their A-games going since the opening faceoff. Fittingly, the two bounced back to seal the win with Lindholm notching his second assist of the night, and Ullmark delivering multiple quality stops after the equalizer, including a Jack Hughes breakaway bid, and improved his otherworldly record to 20-1-1.

    The Bruins will end 2022 without losing two in a row

    The Hurricanes’ first pair of wins in the first two games of their first-round matchup marked the last time the Bruins dropped consecutive games. Their last regular season stretch of consecutive losses came in mid-April when they dropped three in a row in setbacks against the Capitals, Blues and Senators.

    (If you want to get technical, the Bruins lost three straight between their last game of the 2021-22 regular season in Toronto and the first two games of the Carolina series.)

    Since then, they’ve kept their losses to a minimum.

    The Bruins only have seven losses total through their first 35 games. They notched a point in nearly half of those setbacks, with three defeats coming in the shootout.

    In their seven games after a loss, the Bruins have outscored their opponents, 22-8.

    It doesn’t matter who takes center stage on a given night. Sometimes, they’ll need one-half of the dynamic tandem of Ullmark and Jeremy Swayman to backstop the team to a win. On other nights, they can rely on their potent top-six, the power play, or secondary scoring to carry them.

    Even with recent struggles — compared to October and November –, the Bruins have found various ways to overcome any loss this season. With one game left in 2022 — a pre-Winter Classic tilt against the Sabres in a Saturday matinee at TD Garden — they’ll carry over this encouraging trend into the new year.

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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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