Sunday evening provided a night of seconds for the Boston Bruins.
It was the second time this week they faced the Montreal Canadiens. It was the second game in which they sported their dazzling new alternate uniforms. And it was the second straight victory over the Canadiens for Bruce Cassidy and company.
Habs forward Joel Armia opened the scoring just 1:51 in after firing a shot off of Charlie McAvoy’s skate and into the top corner. The Bruins, meanwhile, struggled to find offense during the first 40 minutes.
True to form, however, the resilient Bruins battled back. David Pastrnak, David Backes and Jake DeBursk all netted third-period tallies as Boston earned its second win of the season over Claude Julien’s Habs.
Pastrnak jumpstarted Boston’s offensive onslaught just six minutes into the second period after firing an olde-time hockey slap shot past Carey Price for his 25th goal of the season. He followed it up with an even better celebration.
— Boston Bruins (@NHLBruins) December 2, 2019
Backes and DeBrusk added net-front tallies down the stretch to seal Boston’s seventh straight victory.
“Well, we know how to win. Our guys have proven that. We’re still trying to get to our game for the full 60 minutes, but I don’t think we’re ever out of games,” Cassidy said postgame.
“Goaltending has a lot to do with that. Our experience in big moments with our leadership group has a lot to do with that. I think we play the right way typically, even sometimes when we aren’t playing our best. We’re still trying to stay in the game, play the right way so it doesn’t get out of hand. So I think all of those three things go into it. Very competitive group.”
Here’s what we learned from Boston’s 3-1 victory.
For being out nearly a month to the day, the 35-year-old power forward made a triumphant return. He finished with a goal, three shots on net and a few big hits that the Bruins definitely needed.
— Boston Bruins (@NHLBruins) December 2, 2019
“I’ve been watching this team do this for a month and now it’s great to be a part of it and contribute as well,” Backes said. “You could see it on my face, that was elation.”
Backes, playing in his first game since Nov. 2, had a productive night skating alongside Sean Kuraly and Anders Bjork on the third line. His return gives Cassidy another reliable option on a deep-Bruins squad.
The Bruins keep finding ways to win
The Bruins, for a good chunk of the 60 minutes, weren’t the better team on the ice. Yet, despite their flat starts, no one can ever count out the Black and Gold.
A desperate Canadiens bunch, arriving in Boston on the heels of an embarrassing 8-1 home loss to the Bruins on Tuesday night, came out with a physical edge in hopes of snapping their seven-game skid. Montreal’s tone-setting hits took Boston off of its timing and really disrupted things in the offensive zone.
That didn’t matter, even without Patrice Bergeron (lower-body injury) for the fourth straight game. This Bruins team, now 19-3-5 this season, find different ways to win.
The trendy come from behind wins aren’t necessarily ideal, but that didn’t stop the Bruins from extending their win streak to seven for the second time this season. Sunday marked the third straight time that the Bruins erased a third-period deficit.
The Bruins deeply believe that they always have a chance to win. Their offense can score in bunches at any moment just like it did in their third meeting of the season with their hated rivals
“It’s a good trait to have, especially it’s one that you work for. We have lots of character in this room, obviously starting with the leadership going all the way down,” DeBrusk said about the team’s resiliency. “We understood that Montreal was desperate and wanted to get a win there…we knew we had to be our best and the big guys stepped up. It was just a resilient effort.”
DeBrusk and company sit atop the NHL standings with 43 points. To put their historic early-season pace in perspective, the Tampa Bay Lightning were 19-7-1 (39 points) through the same number of games last season when they finished with an astounding 128 points.
Be it through comebacks or blowouts, the Bruins keep finding different ways to win as they create separation in the standings.
The Bruins-Habs rivalry is alive and well
There’s nothing like a good rivalry match up between the Boston Bruins and the Montreal Canadiens. The two-storied rivals have met three times thus far this season, and the fans of these Original Six franchises have certainly received their money’s worth.
Montreal took a controversial 5-4 win in the first meeting after Julien’s challenge overturned Charlie Coyle’s goal on a razor-thin offside. The Bruins responded with authority in the 8-1 shellacking just two days before Thanksgiving.
The two teams showcased contempt for one another again when TD Garden hosted the historic rivals for the first time this season.
With just under three minutes left in the second period, Pastrnak and Brendan Gallagher exchanged pleasantries at the faceoff circle in Boston’s defensive zone. A massive brawl ensued at center ice just moments later.
The Bruins and Canadiens — to the surprise of many — don't seem to like each other. pic.twitter.com/VYtNpHsG8x
— Conor Ryan (@ConorRyan_93) December 2, 2019
The Bruins now lead the season series 2-1. They’ll have no love lost when they welcome the Habs again on Feb. 12 for the final regular-season meeting.