The good times continued for the Bruins on an afternoon where they honored Zdeno Chara for his 1,500th game. But the Bruins and Arizona Coyotes became embroiled in a pair of controversial moments following the pregame celebration at TD Garden.
Jeremy Lauzon’s high hit on Derek Stepan late in the first period ended his afternoon. Phil Kessel scored his 12th of the season during that five-minute power play.
Trailing 1-0 for the second straight game, the Bruins battled back following another questionable hit from Lawson Crouse on Charlie McAvoy. Crouse, unlike Lauzon, only received a two-minute minor for roughing.
Charlie Coyle delivered his first of two goals of the afternoon a mere four seconds after Crouse’s penalty expired. Patrice Bergeron and Jake DeBrusk each tipped a David Pastrnak shot past Adin Hill to provide the Bruins with a pair of power-play tallies just 2:29 apart and give them a 3-1 lead heading into the second intermission,
Jakob Chychrun cut the Bruins’ lead to 3-2 just 26 seconds into the final stanza. But Tuukka Rask (29 saves) held strong as the Coyotes pushed for the equalizer and Coyle, in one of his better performances of the season, capped off the victory with an empty netter.
Here’s what we learned following Boston’s sixth straight victory.
Zdeno Chara put his milestone in perspective.
— Boston Bruins on CLNS (@BruinsCLNS) February 8, 2020
The Bruins and the city of Boston have been graced with Chara’s presence for nearly 15 years. Both commodities sent their appreciation in return to the 6-foot-9 captain over the last 48 hours.
The gifts started pouring in on Friday when New Balance surprised Chara with a ceremony at Warrior Ice Arena for his latest milestone. Chara took home a street sign and a pair of golden gloves as New Balance also sent a $10,000 donation in his honor to the Italian Home for Children.
— Boston Bruins (@NHLBruins) February 7, 2020
The weekend’s events shifted from Guest Street in Brighton to Causeway Street the day after.
The Bruins kicked off the ceremony with a high-quality video presentation featuring several captains from other NHL teams — including Alex Ovechkin, Steven Stamkos, and Roman Josi to name a few — congratulating Chara on his prestigious milestone.
— Boston Bruins (@NHLBruins) February 8, 2020
The latest round of gifts came pouring in afterward. On this day, the Bruins presented Chara with a golden stick, a home portrait featuring a golden stick, a home portrait, an oil painting, and an all-paid expenses trip to take his family anywhere in the world.
Chara, with his family in attendance, displayed his trademark humility during the pregame ceremony. He kept his humble demeanor going inside the locker room after the final buzzer.
“I felt extremely honored and proud. Everybody did such an amazing job to make it as nice as it was,” Chara said. “I was extremely happy that my family was able to be there because those are the ones — especially my wife — that make so many sacrifices over the course of my career … I’m representing so many other people that helped me along the way. Without their help and support, I wouldn’t have been able to play as long [as I have].”
Chara transitioned from pregame honoree to skating in his first shift rather quickly for his 1,539th career game. The Bruins made the pregame ceremony worthwhile to keep their hot streak going.
The Bruins thrived in the middle stanza following Jeremy Lauzon’s major.
Lauzon put the Bruins in a tough spot when he earned a match penalty for elbowing Stepan at 19:39 of the first. The Bruins then had to dig deep during the ensuing shorthanded situation.
Kessel, now playing with his fourth team, notched the game’s first goal with 1:12 left on that five-minute penalty kill. But the Bruins minimized the damage before finding their power-play groove.
PHIL THE THRILL! pic.twitter.com/ghro0psqqt
— Arizona Coyotes (@ArizonaCoyotes) February 8, 2020
“It’s a tough one when you have to kill something off like that. They put one up in the end, but you have to be up with that,” Coyle said about the penalty kill. “You kill something off like that, and you kind of use that to your advantage.”
It wasn’t pretty at first, though. With Crouse in the box, the Bruins struggled to gain traction on their first power-play attempt of the middle stanza. But the secondary unit slowly generated chances and cashed in during the ‘vulnerable minute’ when Coyle tapped home a beautiful setup from Charlie McAvoy and David Krejci for his 11th of the season.
The Bruins didn’t waste any time converting on their next chances with the power play. Bergeron tipped in his 23rd of the season a mere six seconds into Boston’s third power play of the night. DeBrusk came back moments later deflecting his 18th of the year past Hill just 22 seconds into the fourth and final chance with the man advantage.
Jake DeBrusk tips home Pastrnak's shot for his 18th goal of the season.
Bruins lead Arizona, 3-1. pic.twitter.com/aMyAdhuY85
— Conor Ryan (@ConorRyan_93) February 8, 2020
“I thought our power play was slow in terms of their execution and puck movement. I think we picked up our pace there, and that always feeds into the rest of your game,” head coach Bruce Cassidy said. “There’s a lot of skilled guys touching the puck, so it tends to get them going a little bit. They responded well and from there I thought we were pretty good and limited their chances.”
Lawson Crouse’s hit on Charlie McAvoy wasn’t viewed the same way as Lauzon’s hit.
— Boston Bruins on CLNS (@BruinsCLNS) February 8, 2020
Stepan returned to the game following Lauzon’s high hit that earned him a trip to the locker room for the rest of the night. Minutes later, in nearly the exact same spot on the ice, Crouse delivered a hit up high to McAvoy.
Lauzon’s match penalty didn’t set a threshold, though. Instead, the officials only gave Crouse a two-minute minor for his hit on McAvoy that looked a little worse compared to Lauzon’s collision with Stepan.
— Here's Your Replay ⬇️ (@HeresYourReplay) February 8, 2020
The league’s inconsistent stance on headshots resonated in this particular situation. Cassidy, in this instance, shared that sentiment during his postgame press conference.
“Well, there is in this. Clearly, they’re both very similar hits and you’d like to see more consistency, but again, I don’t want to get onto that soapbox today,” Cassidy said. “They’re going to look at Lauzy [Lauzon]. Listen, I don’t even know if it’s an automatic suspension, I assume it’s a review. I don’t believe last year when he was up he had any issues with the league. I guess we’ll see down the road. That would be my only concern if there’s a suspension. Obviously, he’s played well for us. That would be unfortunate.”
Lauzon will hear from the NHL’s Player Safety Department following his ejection. Whether they contact Crouse or not is anyone’s guess.