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The Boston Bruins made history with their 6-1 victory over the Chicago Blackhawks.
There’s even more history on the horizon.
The Bruins tied the 2021-22 Florida Panthers and the 1963-64 Blackhawks for the longest home win streak to start a season with their 11th straight triumph on TD Garden ice. They extended their record to 16-2-0, thus continuing a record-breaking run dating back to their inaugural season back in 1924-25.
David Pastrnak kicked things off with his 250th career goal to give the Bruins a 1-0 first-period lead on a power-play blast.
Patrice Bergeron, who assisted on Pastrnak’s milestone tally, added a marker of his own for his 999th career NHL point. His ninth goal of the season gave the Bruins a 2-0 cushion at 4:28 of the middle frame.
Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews cut the lead to 2-1 with his power-play tip-in at 10:37 of the second. Frankly, the Bruins never felt threatened against a lottery-bound Chicago bunch, outshooting the Blackhawks 43-18 in Jeremy Swayman’s first appearance since Nov. 1.
Jake DeBrusk and David Krejci quickly extended Boston’s lead to 4-1 late in the second period with their respective tip-in and one-timer bids a mere 1:08 apart.
Pastrnak added his second of the night and 11th of the season on Nick Foligno’s feed past the midway point of the final frame. Taylor Hall capped off the rout with his sixth goal of the year on a seeing-eye shot from the point.
“Every d-man was involved and every forward was involved,” head coach Jim Montgomery said. “I thought it was really good to see Swayman play so well as well.”
Here’s what we learned from Boston’s sixth straight triumph.
For nearly two decades, the Boston captain provided dazzling moments to a passionate fanbase. Now they’re one point away from witnessing Bergeron achieve yet another milestone.
Bergeron sits at 999 career NHL points after notching a goal and an assist against the Blackhawks. Par for the course, the humble Bergeron credited his plethora of teammates, both past and present, for getting him to this point.
“I’ve played with some great players. I’ve played for a long time, too.” Bergeron said. “Obviously, it’s been a fun journey, and I want to keep that going.”
With Saturday’s game well in hand, Bergeron’s teammates kept looking his way for that milestone. He came close to accomplishing that feat on a few occasions as the Bruins approached their record-setting 11th straight home win to start the year.
They’ll have to wait at least one more night. Rest assured, Brad Marchand will continue feeding Bergeron even after he caught an accidental high-stick from his longtime linemate during the third period.
“I don’t know. I might look him off next game,” a nicked-up Marchand said in jest.
“We’re well aware of that coming up. We were looking to him at the end of the game there. We all want to see him get that milestone. It will happen at some point. We’ll be looking forward to that.”
The early return from injury trend continued Saturday with Swayman’s first start since the end of October.
The journey may have felt long. Yet, Swayman avoided a worst-case scenario following a friendly-fire collision with Bergeron during Boston’s triumphant OT comeback win in Pittsburgh on Nov. 1.
With help from the training staff, Swayman returned to the crease after watching Linus Ullmark carry a heavy workload in his absence sans Keith Kinkaid’s appearance in Buffalo last Saturday.
“It’s been a long two weeks … working every day for a common goal, and that was to get back on the ice for a game,” Swayman said. “To get this win at home was a special one, so I’m really happy to be back.”
Swayman eased into action on Saturday, facing very few quality shots against the Blackhawks. Aside from facing a small handful of flurries, the Bruins kept Swayman’s crease clean en route to a well-rounded blowout against their Original Six counterparts.
“I wanted to be sure I was ready for a shot, a Grade-A [scoring chance] or a breakaway if there was one,” Swayman said of his 17-save outing. “I had the best seat in the house, so it was a really fun game to be a part of.”
Montgomery’s club encountered its share of tests through the first 18 games. Some teams, like the Wild, Rangers, Maple Leafs, and Penguins, provided a solid pushback. Others, like the Blackhawks, Canucks, and Blue Jackets, hardly challenged the Bruins at all.
Through it all, the Bruins found various ways to win en route to the best 18-game start since their first Stanley Cup-winning season in 1929-30.
“I think we’re all incredibly lucky that we get to play games for a living. Yeah, we’re professionals, but we’re having a heck of a lot of fun,” Charlie McAvoy said after his four-assist outing on Saturday. “You can see how close everyone is in this room, how everyone plays for each other.”
The camaraderie inside Boston’s dressing room remains second to none. That tight bond suits them well for any test they face, including their upcoming gauntlet of quality opponents.
The Bruins will embark on their toughest seven-game stretch of the early season beginning Monday against the Lightning. Another matchup with the Bolts, along with a pair of tilts against the defending champion Avalanche, Bruce Cassidy’s Golden Knights, the high-octane Panthers, and a rematch against the Hurricanes from last year’s first-round matchup await.
No doubt, the Bruins will enter those contests with significant confidence. They’ll need that, along with their depth scoring, timely goaltending, and stout defensive approach to carry over into the difficult road ahead.
“It’s a special team,” Bergeron said. “We have a lot of depth, and I think it shows. Everyone is contributing, everyone is valued, and I think everyone has confidence … I think that’s the biggest thing.”
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