Some of the 17,565 in attendance at TD Garden didn’t approve of the Bruins’ trade deadline activity, but they approved the hometown team running its point streak to 14 games with a 4-1 victory over the San Jose Sharks Tuesday night.
The newcomers, Marcus Johansson and Weymouth’s own Charlie Coyle (playing in his second game with the Bruins), made a good first impression in their Causeway Street debut, Boston’s first home game after picking up 9-of-10 points from their five-game west coast trip.
“I think we’re excited to be home. We’ve been on the road for a while, so, it’s exciting to be back and in front of our crowd,” said forward Brad Marchand, who notched his 25th career shorthanded goal, tying Rick Middleton for the most in team history.
“You know, guys get up to play at home and I think just professionals in the room that expect to have a good game each and every night and hold themselves accountable. So, when you get that, you get guys that play well at home and they’re able to come back off those road trips and play at the top of their game.”
Here is what we learned following Boston’s impressive win to kick off its season-long six-game homestand.
The new arrivals
Coyle and Johansson weren’t the marquee splashes in a viable trade market featuring Mark Stone, Artemi Panarin and Wayne Simmonds, but the veteran forwards give the Bruins much-needed stability in the middle of the lineup.
Both had breakaway attempts on Tuesday: Martin Jones made a blocker stop on Johansson’s breakaway, while Coyle drew a slashing call as he made his way toward the San Jose netminder.
Coyle’s line — with David Backes and Joakim Nordstrom at opposite wings — didn’t find the scoresheet, but stayed aggressive in their puck pursuit and kept the Sharks on their heels with their heavy play.
Johansson’s was a little different story. The Swede’s speed and creativity complimented David Krejci and Jake DeBrusk to the tune of four points and a beautiful goal in the second period.
— Boston Bruins (@NHLBruins) February 27, 2019
“He made some really nice passes on some rushes that we had and I think the first couple caught both me and [Krejci] by surprise, but it was nice to connect on one,” DeBrusk said after sealing his career 20-goal season. “He also had some good looks so it was a good game all around and a good game for our team as well.”
Johansson’s long-term status is anyone’s guess once David Pastrnak returns from his thumb injury. It’ll be hard to move him away from Krejci and DeBrusk if Tuesday was anything to go by.
“Yeah, guys better be ready for the puck because he’s got good composure in the o-zone, off the rush can separate and freeze people, and he’s looking to make a play back door in those areas,” the third-year Bruins coach said. “So, really skilled, good speed, and again, looked like those guys were reading off each other well. And it’s only game one, so hopefully it grows from there. We’ll see.”
Bruins score three in second on limping Sharks
Brad Marchand buries a shorthanded goal to give Boston a 4-1 lead.
(also, Erik Karlsson should not be out there) pic.twitter.com/bIDJ86ybtE
— Conor Ryan (@ConorRyan_93) February 27, 2019
Erik Karlsson’s exit in the second period put the Sharks in a tough spot. His return a few minutes later put them in a tougher spot.
That was San Jose’s second period in a nutshell. The Bruins took advantage with a trio of second-period goals and never looked back.
Boston’s tallies from Charlie McAvoy, DeBrusk and Marchand came 3:19 apart. Its defense was equally impressive, holding San Jose’s potent offense to a four shots on goal in the middle 20 and 20 overall, a far cry compared to the first meeting between the two teams in Silicon Valley.
“I think we did a lot of things that allowed us to have success, like reloading well and staying in front of the puck,” McAvoy said following another impressive performance (a goal, three hits and two blocked shots in 23:32 of ice time). “You know, it’s a really good team over there, so to limit them to what we did, we can be proud of that.”
They’ll need that stout defense and balanced scoring again on Thursday when they welcome the league-leading Tampa Bay Lightning to Causeway Street.
Evander Kane poked the bear one too many times
Zdeno Chara vs. Evander Kane. pic.twitter.com/xlSySEnZJL
— Conor Ryan (@ConorRyan_93) February 27, 2019
Engaging in fisticuffs with the 6-foot-9-inch Zdeno Chara is never a good idea. The enigmatic Evander Kane decided to attempt that feat, for whatever reason.
It didn’t turn out well, as expected.
Kane had been chirping Chara and the Bruins all night. Kane was perhaps justifiably upset about the location of Chara’s hit to begin their third-period exchange, but Boston’s captain handled his business. Kane mouthed off one final time toward the Bruins after the officials escorted him to the San Jose bench.
The talented, yet troubled winger also has a history with Kevan Miller, who missed Tuesday’s game with an upper-body injury.
The Bruins and Sharks don’t cross paths again in the regular season, yet the physicality and bad blood displayed between the two teams bodes well if they renew acquaintances in June.