Stop the count at two.
After an uncharacteristic four-game stretch, the Boston Bruins rediscovered their 200-foot game with a well-rounded victory over a Winnipeg Jets bunch fighting for one of the wild card spots out West.
Jeremy Swayman’s 35 stops secured him his third shutout of the season, while contributions from all four lines gave the Bruins their first win in the third tilt of this five-game road trip.
Trent Frederic and Tyler Bertuzzi picked up where they left off on Tuesday, connecting this time for an opening-minute tally. Setting up shop from behind the net, Bertuzzi found Frederic in the slot to give the Bruins a needed early lift.
The Bruins came out of penalty trouble thanks to Swayman, then doubled their lead shortly after. Pavel Zacha unloaded a snipe past the glove side of Connor Hellebucyk for his career-high 18th goal of the year.
“I was trying to shoot it hard,” Zacha told reporters. “I was looking for Pasta [David Pastrnak] at the beginning and they kind of took him away, so I decided to shoot it and it went in.”
The Bruins saved their best period for last, winning possessional battles and killing off vital minutes against the desperate Jets.
“I really thought the way we closed out the game in the third period was very reminiscent of the old team we had,” Montgomery said to NESN’s Jack Edwards and Andy Brickley. “Our game management, all four lines and every defenseman. Of course, Swayman was great for 60 minutes.”
Tomas Nosek added an empty netter in the dwindling seconds to secure the Bruins’ 3-0 win.
Here’s what we learned after Boston’s bounce-back effort.
The Bruins got the start they wanted.
And a start they needed.
The Black and Gold had on a night of notable improvements, even if they didn’t solve every aspect of their recent “malaise” from the get-go. Getting off to a good start was one of their top priorities after falling behind early against a pair of non-playoff teams in the Detroit Red Wings and Chicago Blackhawks.
“I thought we played with a lot of pace and purpose,” Montgomery said. “You could tell we were skating right away.”
On a night with many bottom six standouts, the third line initially righted the ship. Tasked with the second shift of the game, Charlie Coyle and company went straight to work. Well-spaced in the offensive zone, the Bruins addressed their greatest concern early on in their slump-breaking performance.
The Weymouth native was first in on the forecheck, and with eight pairs of Jets’ eyes on him, Coyle found Bertuzzi behind the net, providing great puck support. With the Jets overcommitting on Coyle, an open Frederic quickly fired Boston’s first shot of the night.
Each line had its moment to shine. The third line was the first to do so.
Lauko made the most of his limited time on ice.
Believe it or not, Jakub Lauko continues to make an impact whenever he’s in the lineup. The rookie winger was the main subject in the Bruins’ recent paper transaction carousel.
It’s safe to say Lauko would like to hop off that ride.
Despite only logging 6:29 of ice time, Lauko provided some incredibly impactful minutes in his first game since his two-goal performance on March 2. Alongside Tomas Nosek and Garnet Hathaway, the 22-year-old drew two penalties and generated a handful of quality scoring chances in the second period.
“[The fourth line] was a really determined group,” Montgomery told NESN. “Unfortunately, we took a lot of penalties or else I would have liked to have them play about 12-14 minutes tonight because they had an impact and tilted the ice every time they were on it.”
Taylor Hall and Nick Foligno remain out of commission, potentially until the first round of the playoffs. With “load management” also potentially approaching, Lauko may have earned himself a spot in Boston for the stretch run.
The Bruins rediscover their defensive commitment at a potential cost
Tuesday night marked one of the worst third periods of the season.
A season-high four goals allowed in the final frame punctuated the lack of effort and details that Boston had been skating with the last four games. Two nights later, the Bruins returned to their “standard”.
“We hold ourselves to a high standard in this locker room, and it’s been that way since I’ve gotten here,” Brandon Carlo said to NESN’s Sophia Jurksztowicz. “It’s the Bruins way, and we want to continue that. And when we’re not there, we’re gonna get back to it as fast as possible.”
Charlie McAvoy led the way with seven blocked shots. Boston’s commitment on the back end, along with Swayman’s strong performance, paved the way for a 5-for-5 night on the penalty kill.
“The guys did such a good job boxing out, letting me see pucks from the point. Made my job easy,” Swayman said to the media. “It was a good team win. We’re excited about it.”
That commitment came at a cost, as Derek Forbort left after taking a shot off his right ankle in the second period. Forbort did return to action for the final frame.
Per Matt Porter of the Boston Globe, Forbort was seen wearing a walking boot after the game. Porter also reported that Montgomery doesn’t anticipate Forbort playing for the rest of the road trip.
The Dmitry Orlov acquisition prepared the Bruins for injuries on the back end. Without Forbort, they’ll have a tough test ahead of them.
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