It was quite a busy Wednesday for Don Sweeney and the Bruins.
Just hours before puck drop in Las Vegas, reports broke that Sweeney made his first move ahead of the trade deadline. The Bruins acquired Charlie Coyle from Minnesota in exchange for Ryan Donato and a 2019 conditional fifth-round pick. Yet, amidst all of the chaos, the B’s still had on-ice business to take care of against the defending Western Conference champion Vegas Golden Knights.
It wasn’t the most exciting game, but the Bruins and Golden Knights provided plenty of drama, especially late.
Boston held two separate one-goal leads courtesy of Jake DeBrusk and Brad Marchand, yet Vegas answered the bell both times and sent the contest into overtime — and eventually a lengthy shootout.
David Backes scored the winner in the seventh round of the shootout to give the Bruins their seventh straight win. Here is what we learned from Boston’s 3-2 win over the Golden Knights.
The Bruins are finding more ways to win.
This might sound trivial, but walking away from this one with two points was crucial.
Wednesday night had all of the makings of a letdown. The Bruins, just two days removed from a thrilling overtime victory in San Jose, played their fourth game in six nights on Wednesday.
Yet Boston weathered the storm enough to win and sometimes that’s all you can ask for. It wasn’t pretty, it wasn’t flashy and it certainly wasn’t a game you’ll tell your kids about. The Bruins churned out another narrow victory through situational offense, stout goaltending and a defensive-first mentality.
“We are playing a gritty style, obviously it’s not the prettiest of games,” DeBrusk said postgame. “It just shows our resiliency. Obviously missing Pasta [David Pastrnak], guys are put in different roles and we’re just trying to do the best we can.”
It didn’t matter that they had to go seven rounds in a shootout to claim victory. The Bruins were going to do whatever it took to win.
Bruce Cassidy’s squad sits in sole possession of third place in the entire league with 80 points, trailing only Tampa Bay and Calgary.
The Bruins have a chance to sweep their five-game western swing on Saturday against a red-hot St. Louis Blues club.
DeBrusk can’t stop, won’t stop.
The best player sporting a Bruins’ jersey over the past week has without a doubt been DeBrusk. The 23-year-old is making things look easy after scoring in his fifth straight game on Wednesday night.
The second-year winger gave the Bruins an early 1-0 lead on a beautiful move. He followed that up with one of his patented celebrations.
It's your regularly scheduled Celly SZN tweet.
Jake DeBrusk buries a goal for the fifth game in a row. pic.twitter.com/SEgpJu7xb9
— Conor Ryan (@ConorRyan_93) February 21, 2019
“It was pure luck, I didn’t really know what I was doing out there,” DeBrusk said. “It’s nice for sure. You always have confidence in yourself — you start to question it after a month and a half — but you know now they’re coming in bunches and I’m doing anything I can to make it that it doesn’t stop.”
His night wasn’t done there.
DeBrusk made his presence felt all night with his aggressive forecheck and his four shots on net. He ended the night with his Round 1 shootout tally.
Okay, @JDebrusk with the soft touch.
Well played. pic.twitter.com/8f83mtlVLZ
— NHL (@NHL) February 21, 2019
Jaroslav Halak was a monster between the pipes.
The Bruins quite simply would not have won this game without the tremendous performance put forth by the 33-year-old netminder.
“It was a battle. You know in the first period I thought they were better than us. We weren’t ready from the beginning but as the game went on we started playing better,” Halak said about his third straight win. “I think we just found a way.”
The Bruins needed Halak to come through in the clutch. He did just that with his timely saves — 31 in all — especially in overtime.
Boston pinned themselves into a dangerous 4-on-3 scenario after taking an inexcusable too many men penalty with 2:57 remaining in the extra session. Yet, as Vegas threatened to walk off with two points, Halak was at the right place at the right time.
"I'll take that, thank you."
– Jaroslav Halak, probably. pic.twitter.com/6n2FqLPKzw
— NHL on NBC (@NHLonNBCSports) February 21, 2019
Halak went toe-to-toe with one of the best goalies in the league in Marc-Andre Fleury and bested him in the shootout.
Having Halak and Tuukka Rask between the pipes give the Bruins a dynamic goaltending tandem. They need them to continue performing at a top level during their late-season push.