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The Boston Bruins’ historic early-season run continues.
Their recent record-breaker at TD Garden didn’t come easy, however.
Jim Montgomery’s squad allowed an opposing power-play goal for the sixth straight game. Their recent penalty kill woes carried over into Friday, where the Hurricanes snapped an 0-for-20 skid on the power play en route to a 2-0 first-period lead following greasy net-front goals from Stefan Noesen and Jesper Kotkaniemi.
Slowly but surely, they started shaking off the tryptophan.
Charlie McAvoy and Boston’s crop of bottom-six forwards woke up the Causeway Street faithful after mixing in some timely hits in the second frame.
Linus Ullmark also showcased some aggressive tendencies, delivering a timely poke check at Boston’s defensive blue-line to stave off Jaccob Slavin’s potential breakaway following a Brad Marchand turnover.
An aggressive backcheck from fellow Czech countryman Pavel Zacha in the attacking zone led to David Pastrnak feeding David Krejci for his first of two tallies to pull the Bruins within one with a little over 30 ticks remaining in the middle stanza.
The Bruins also had to overcome upper-body injuries to Craig Smith and Ullmark in the final frame. Jeremy Swayman filled in admirably in relief of Ullmark, stopping all six shots he faced.
Krejci got the Bruins to OT after the officials overturned their initial call for goalie interference as Brett Pesce shoved Nick Foligno into Pytor Kochetov’s crease.
The Hurricanes self-inflicted in the closing moments of regulation and OT, committing a pair of delay-of-game minors. In the end, the Bruins capitalized as David Pastrnak’s blast secured Boston’s record-breaking 12th straight home win to start the 2022-23 season.
“We just kept going at them. We got to bring some good energy,” Krejci said following Friday’s playoff-like thriller against Carolina. “I think the fourth line started it for us. They had a couple of good hits, good shifts, and then we all just followed up.”
Here’s what we learned from the B’s 3-2 triumph on Black Friday.
After Saturday’s win over the Blackhawks, the Bruins became well aware of the next hurdle to history once they returned from their two-game swing in Florida.
As professionals, they hardly feel overwhelmed by the brevity of these moments. But make no mistake, this proud Original Six franchise is always well aware of the stakes.
“There’s been a lot of great teams in this league, and you’re able to set a precedent and break a record,” Montgomery said. “It doesn’t happen if those guys don’t believe in themselves like they do.”
The bond inside Boston’s locker room provides that feeling of belief. No matter the circumstance, they always feel they can overcome adversity.
Their third-period prowess through this early season run put the team in a prime position to take over. In overtime, Pastrnak and crew smelled blood and etched another win for the NHL record books.
“It’s Original Six, right? So any time you break a record it’s special because it’s such a long history,” Pastrnak said. “We were obviously aware of it. This group is great. We took over in the third period because I feel we were playing the right way 5-on-5 in the first two periods. I feel we tired them up a little bit, and that’s a hell of a team we beat today.”
Yet, they couldn’t escape a role reversal of sorts during their latest come-from-behind effort.
Even with their dominance, the Bruins aren’t immune from finding themselves on the wrong end of the scoreboard.
Nor are they exempt from encountering an in-game goalie injury.
Nearly a month removed from exiting during a relief appearance in Boston’s third-period comeback win over the Penguins, Swayman once again found himself on mop-up duty against the Hurricanes. Unlike that night in Pittsburgh, Ullmark’s exit against Carolina wasn’t performance-based. Instead, the Swede watched the rest of the game in the locker room after sustaining an upper-body injury in the third period.
“It’s crazy,” Swayman said. “You hardly see that once a year, and then it happens twice. But I think he’ll be okay. That was all I cared about…the first thing I asked him. He’s a big Swedish Viking, so he’ll be alright.”
Swayman didn’t alter his preparation one bit after entering the game with the Bruins still trailing 2-1. His teammates kept his crease clean for the most part. But when needed, Swayman delivered with timely saves, including one late in regulation on Sebastian Aho.
“I just want to make sure I’m preparing the same way every day so it’s like another day in the office. If you have that repetition, then nothing really surprises you,” Swayman said. “So I gave myself a chance to jump into that situation, and it was a pretty cool win.”
Nick Foligno again filled in for an injured goalie with a trademark goalie hug. Before that, the veteran nearly found himself on the wrong end of the goaltender interference debate.
In the NFL’s response to what defines a catch, the NHL counters with a conundrum of what constitutes goaltender interference.
A day removed from the men in stripes overturning a Hunter Henry touchdown reception, the Bruins took their turn, hoping to benefit from replay review.
With replay at their disposal, Montgomery challenged the original call after receiving advice from goalie coach Bob Esenssa and his video staff. The referees overturned their initial call after reviewing the Foligno-Pesce exchange, thus awarding the tying goal to the Bruins.
“The only hesitation … I thought we should challenge it, but I always wait for Goalie Bob and also the input from our video coaches,” Montgomery said. “Our video coaches do a great job. They study a lot of that in the off-season of what is goalie interference and what isn’t. We felt very confident that would be overturned because Foligno started outside of the blue paint and then got pushed into the goalie.”
The Bruins pushed their way to a 2-1 mark through their first three tilts of a tough seven-game stretch. They’ll look to extend their historic early-season home record on Tuesday when they welcome the Tampa Bay Lightning.
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