While most of you were asleep by the time the puck dropped, a thrilling hockey game between two of the top six teams in the NHL unfolded in San Jose.
This one had it all and felt every bit like a playoff game. Penalty shots, bone-crushing hits, questionable calls, 11 goals, a half dozen posts, and nonstop end-to-end action made it an epic clash.
The Bruins entered the Shark Tank boasting a 10-game point streak and used that momentum to jump out to an early 3-0 lead. But Boston conceded two untimely goals before the first and second intermissions, and it came back to haunt them.
Joe Thornton’s third goal of the evening during the third period put the Sharks in the driver’s seat for the first time, but the Bruins had a comeback effort of their own in mind.
Chris Wagner batted a puck out of mid-air with 1:57 remaining in regulation to force overtime and Charlie McAvoy buried a pass from David Krejci with 1:01 left in the extra period to propel the Bruins to a thrilling victory.
— NHL GIFs (@NHLGIFs) February 19, 2019
“We ended up on the right side of it. It’s probably good that each team got a point,” Bruce Cassidy said postgame. “Listen, we should have held onto the lead and put the game away, but everything that transpired on the ice both ways — with some of the calls out there — at least each team got a point. We’re glad to get the extra.”
Here’s what we learned from Boston’s thrilling 6-5 victory.
The Bruins are rolling.
The Bruins are peaking at the right time. This win marked their sixth win in a row and extended their point streak to 11 straight games. That’s impressive in and of itself, but getting points against quality opponents like the Sharks makes the feat even more remarkable.
Cassidy’s squad — playing its third game in four nights — walked into one of the most hostile environments in the league and went toe to toe with a talented San Jose squad. They overcame adversity and battled back after seeing their three-goal advantage wiped away.
The style of play has been the most encouraging part of it. The Bruins have been playing cohesively and with a ton of confidence in all three phases, and it’s beginning to show in the results.
The recent surge is reminiscent of when Boston caught fire at the end of last season and made a late push for the Atlantic Division crown. It’s unlikely that they’ll catch the highly skilled Tampa Bay Lightning this season, but maintaining and securing that second spot in the East — with another potential first-round showdown looming with the Maple Leafs — is key. The Bruins, currently holding a three-point lead over their Original Six foes, are certainly on the right track.
Jake DeBrusk continues his hot streak.
DeBrusk stated being embarrassed with how he was playing after going through one of the roughest scorning droughts of his career. It got to the point where Cassidy moved DeBrusk to the third line as he searched for some much-needed confidence.
Yet, since David Pastrnak’s untimely injury, DeBrusk has taken advantage of his opportunity playing alongside Krejci once again. The 22-year-old has been the best Bruin over the past four games, tallying eight points (four goals, four assists) in that span. He has a goal in each of those four games, giving him the longest goal streak of his career.
He was up to his usual celebration tactics on Monday after notching a goal and an assist.
— Marina Molnar (@mkmolnar) February 19, 2019
“It looks like Jake DeBrusk has found his game,” Cassidy said. “He’s in a groove and on a roll.”
DeBrusk is at his best when he isn’t overthinking things. He’s keeping things simple and getting back to basics after bouncing back from his 13-game goal drought. The Edmonton native has every reason to celebrate following his four-game run.
Secondary scoring shows up again.
Boston’s top line of Brad Marchand, Patrice Bergeron, and Danton Heinen didn’t tally a single goal in Silicon Valley. Yet, the Bruins put up a six spot against one of the top teams out West.
The Bruins heavily relied on secondary scoring sources for its onslaught of offense. Six players, including Karson Kuhlman’s first career NHL goal, tallied goals in the winning effort.
“Well I think guys on this team play for one another. They’ve done that for years and certainly have this year and want to make sure that someone else picks up the slack,” Cassidy said. “We’ve asked our defense to be a little more active, and they got three goals tonight.”
The lack of scoring depth plagued the Bruins during the first few months of the season, but Boston’s secondary scoring has come alive over the last few weeks. The Bruins are lighting the lamp in a variety of ways — as seen in San Jose — netting 26 goals during the last six games.
They’re beginning to gel as a cohesive unit after their battle with the injury bug, but Boston knows they’ll need balance across their lineup come playoff time.