The Boston Bruins entered Minnesota looking to build off their 3-0 victory over the Winnipeg Jets while shaking off their losses in Detroit and Chicago.
A 60-minute effort led by Brad Marchand’s three assists culminated in Boston’s league-leading 52nd win on the season and the end of the Wild’s 14-game point streak.
Boston’s tilt against Minnesota was indeed a “wild” one. Saturday’s game featured 11 combined penalties and a pair of successful coach’s challenges initiated by Jim Montgomery.
Both of Boston’s challenges came at critical junctures. The first challenge kept Minnesota’s lead at 1-0. The second review maintained Boston’s 2-1 cushion.
Following Saturday, Boston’s video coaches are now five-for-five on the season in overturning goals.
Former Bruin Marcus Johansson struck 10:15 into the first period to give Minnesota a 1-0 lead. A collision between Hampus Lindholm and Brandon Carlo resulted in Johansson’s tap-in during a de facto 3-on-0 at Linus Ullmark’s doorstep.
Nearing the final minute of the opening period, Jake DeBrusk hopped over the boards and flew into the offensive end, receiving a perfect tape-to-tape pass from captain Patrice Bergeron. The sixth-year Bruin fired his shot over the glove of Filip Gustavsson to tie the game at 1-1.
Boston’s slumping power play found success early in the second, as David Pastrnak’s wrist shot broke through Gustavsson for his 47th goal of the season. Pastrnak’s marker broke his 22-game skid without a power play tally.
The Bruins upped their lead to 3-1 with under six minutes remaining in the second stanza. A fortunate bounce off of a Minnesota defenseman from David Krejci’s attempted net-front feed to Charlie McAvoy found its way under Gustavsson’s pads, thus providing Boston with insurance.
Minnesota reduced Boston’s lead to one 7:17 into the third following an efficient power-play goal from Oskar Sundqvist.
The dynamic duo of Marchand and Bergeron connected again to regain Boston’s two-goal lead with 7:38 left in regulation. Marchand shook off his defender while skating behind the net and found a tightly covered Bergeron, whose shot easily beat Gustavsson.
Trent Frederic’s empty-net goal solidified Boston’s 5-2 win over the Wild.
Here’s what we learned following Boston’s impressive outing in St. Paul.
Boston’s special teams got a workout.
Neither team had a shortage of man advantages in Saturday’s tilt. The Bruins had four chances to the Wild’s five, with each team potting a power play goal.
Boston’s discipline hasn’t been too much of a concern this season. But repeatedly committing avoidable infractions as they did throughout Saturday afternoon — including Dmitry Orlov’s delay of game penalty late in the middle stanza — isn’t a trend any Bostonian wants to see, especially with one of their more reliable penalty killers in Derek Forbort out of the lineup.
Even though Minnesota’s power play managed to strike in the third on Gustavsson’s tally, Forbort’s absence didn’t haunt the Bruins. Once again, Boston leaned on its league-leading penalty kill to keep the Wild at bay.
Boston’s impressive shorthanded unit has returned to form over the last two games. The Bruins have killed nine of ten penalties after allowing three goals on six combined power play opportunities against Detroit and Chicago.
The Bruins keep thriving when it matters most.
After sustaining such a historic pace, the passionate Boston fanbase heightened its expectations and now expects the Bruins to win nearly every night.
Some fans began to hit the panic button in the middle of the week. Such concerns abated — a 10-game winning streak can do that — but anxieties stirred when the B’s lost back-to-back games against non-playoff teams at the start of their current five-game road trip.
The Bruins responded to their disappointing setbacks in Detroit and Chicago with back-to-back victories over far more threatening teams in Winnipeg and Minnesota.
Behind one of the league’s better goaltending duos in Gustavsson and Marc-Andre Fleury, Minnesota carried a 14-game point streak into Saturday. Marchand and Charlie Coyle both recognized the higher stakes involved against one of the NHL’s hottest teams as of late.
“It was a good test for us. They’ve been playing really well lately,” Marchand told NESN’s Sophia Jurksztowicz. “We haven’t had many games lately where we’ve played our way and played consistently through 60 minutes. Thought we did a really good job of that tonight, and we didn’t really have any big letdowns at all through the game. And when we had to come up big, we did.”
“Usually when we play tough teams, and teams who have been doing well, we get to our game right away because we know we have to,” Coyle said in his postgame interview with the media.
Speaking of the Weymouth native…
Coyle was a man possessed.
There’s something in that St. Paul air for Coyle. The former Minnesota centerman was easily Boston’s most dynamic player.
On Saturday, Coyle used his size, strength, speed and reach to separate himself from his defenders and generate offensive opportunities out of thin air.
“He’s just a manchild out there,” Montgomery said to NESN’S Jack Edwards and Andy Brickley regarding Coyle’s dominant outing. “It looked like it was a grown man playing against pee wees at times, especially that last minute of play. It was pretty impressive.”
Logging 17:23 time on ice, Coyle logged an assist, five shots on goal, led all forwards in short-handed time on ice, and won seven of ten faceoffs.
“It’s always fun coming back here. I loved it here and playing in this building,” Coyle told reporters. “There’s a lot of memories and things that go through your brain, but it makes you play that much harder and want to win for your team now and get the better of these guys.”
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