3 takeaways from the Bruins’ statement win over the Panthers

Jake DeBrusk returned and made an immediate impact.

Trent Frederic of the Boston Bruins scores a goal against Sergei Bobrovsky of the Florida Panthers during the third period at TD Garden. Maddie Meyer/Getty Images

Looking to stay undefeated in the young season, a heavily undermanned Bruins backend faced their toughest test yet against the high-flying offense of the Florida Panthers. 

But a shorthanded Boston bunch wasted little time taking control in this one. A speedy and assertive Jake DeBrusk returned to the lineup with a bang, scoring just 21 seconds in.

The Panthers found better luck early in the middle frame, catching Boston’s battered defensive core off-guard. Matthew Tkachuk fed a back-door-cutting Sam Bennett for the equalizer at 4:32 of the second period. 

The Bruins countered Bennett’s equalizer later in the second period, and DeBrusk again provided a spark for the go-ahead tally. 


The top-line right winger jetted through the neutral zone past a seemingly injured Aaron Ekblad, winning the footrace and setting up Patrice Bergeron to reclaim the 2-1 advantage. With his 402nd career goal, Bergeron tied Rick Middleton for third all-time in franchise history. 

As is usually the case, David Pastrnak eventually found himself figuring in on the offense. Dangling his way through Marc Staal and Radko Gudas, Pastrnak slipped the puck through the five-hole of Sergei Bobrovsky to pad the Bruins’ lead to 3-1 in the third. 

Building off his solid season debut against Arizona on Saturday, Trent Frederic tucked home his first of the year to give the Bruins a 4-1 advantage.

The Panthers provided a late push following Frederic’s tally, but the Bruins capped off another well-rounded effort on DeBrusk’s empty-netter to improve to 3-0 on the young season.

“I thought we didn’t have our A-game,” head coach Jim Montgomery said following the win. “Good teams find a way to win games and we did against a really good hockey team.”

For a group that needed to ‘weather the storm’ to start the season, the Bruins looked quite comfortable against the Presidents’ Trophy-winning Panthers. Here’s what we learned from Boston’s 5-3 victory Monday night.

DeBrusk surprises teammates with his birthday return.

It appeared that DeBrusk would miss his second consecutive game after sustaining an injury during the season-opener in Washington. Surprisingly enough, DeBrusk felt ready to go after participating in an optional pregame skate on Monday morning.


“I was thinking possibly tomorrow, and I got asked, ‘why not tonight?” DeBrusk said postgame. “I just made a decision. I was like, it’s going to get worse or whatever…I surprised pretty much all the boys.”

In his first complete game of the season, DeBrusk collected a goal and an assist, showcasing his high-end speed on both plays. With an empty-netter to seal the deal, DeBrusk’s first outing under a new locker room voice signified a fresh start for the 26-year-old winger.

“I think the biggest thing for myself is confidence,” DeBrusk said. “I obviously like what he’s saying and it’s been working for these three games. It’s one of those things that you want to buy into and obviously make good first impressions and then go from there and just build relationships.”

DeBrusk’s production remains critical for the Bruins’ continued success. Brad Marchand’s absence puts a greater emphasis on the collective production of DeBrusk, Bergeron, and whoever plays to Bergeron’s left. 

Top-six adjustments lead to third-period dominance.

Taylor Hall was skating alongside Patrice Bergeron and Jake DeBrusk to start the night. Pavel Zacha began the night with his fellow countrymen David Krejci and David Pastrnak.


After multiple adjustments, Hall and Zacha swapped roles.

“We weren’t skating,” Montgomery said regarding the Hall-Zacha adjustment. “I just wanted to try something different. Last game that was right-wingers. I switched tonight; it was left-wingers.”

In fact, Montgomery went back to the original plans for Boston’s top six. The top line featured Bergeron centering Zacha and DeBrusk while Hall and Pastrnak skated alongside David Krejci on the second trio.

The top-six got the Bruins back on track in the third, beginning with Pastrnak’s vintage highlight-reel goal and continuing into the next shift as the Zacha-Bergeron-DeBrusk line produced more great scoring chances.

With an entirely healthy top-six save for Marchand, a group that has scored nine of their 16 goals may have solidified itself until Thanksgiving. 

Bruins showing early signs of togetherness

More often than not, Matthew Tkachuk’s skilled and edgy brand of hockey will usually provide a certain degree of tension whenever he touches the ice. And indeed, Florida’s prized off-season acquisition found himself at the center of attention following a center-ice hit by Tomas Nosek during the second period of an already physical contest between the two Atlantic Division foes.

“I didn’t see the hit but obviously they were trying to get after Nosek,” Montgomery said. “I thought the big turning point in the game for me was that scrum at center.”

The Bruins added some snarl following the emergence of bottom-six cogs like A.J. Greer and Jakub Lauko. With their noticeably greater physical presence, the Bruins have stuck together amid heated on-ice moments during the first three games of the Montgomery era.  


“I just love the way we’re battling for each other,” said Montgomery. “We were five. We were a pack of wolves in there together. After that, I thought we had our best three minutes of the game and we were down to three lines. So I think it speaks volumes about how hard they play for each other.”


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