The Boston Bruins put two first-period tallies from the Winnipeg Jets in the rear-view mirror for another come-from-behind victory on home ice.
Frustration settled in for Jim Montgomery’s squad late in the first period after falling behind 2-0. A blatant cross-checking penalty from Taylor Hall closed out another slow opening period in the month of December.
The Bruins found fortune in the second period, however. An unlikely momentum swing midway through the middle frame provided Boston with a needed spark en route to its 18th home victory of the season.
Christmas came early for David Pastrnak, who cashed in on a lucky stanchion bounce that caught Connor Hellebucyk out of his net. Pastrnak’s 22nd of the year brought the Bruins some much-needed momentum at 12:08 of the second period.
“Let’s be honest, they outexecuted us in the first period,” forward Nick Foligno said following the B’s 3-2 win. “We didn’t get rewarded right away, but get that lucky bounce and make something happen.”
The opportunistic Bruins didn’t squander that artificial momentum, cashing in on a power play opportunity just 2:52 after Pastrnak’s tally. Jake DeBrusk recorded his 200th career point, tipping home Pastrnak’s feed and tying the game at 2-2.
“I think you want those to go the right way after you get a bounce like that,” Foligno added. “Credit to all the guys for rolling after that, and I thought we really changed our game after.”
Foligno also played a significant role in this one, collecting the go-ahead marker at 11:08 of the third period off a slick feed from Charlie Coyle.
Jeremy Swayman held down the fort for the remaining 8:52 to secure Boston’s come-from-behind victory.
Here’s what we learned after the Bruins improved to 18-0-2 at TD Garden.
The Bruins overcame another slow start.
Thursday’s early deficit was not as self-inflicted as other recent slow starts. Nevertheless, the Bruins found themselves in a 2-0 hole.
With their late arrival, the Bruins were punished to a greater degree compared to earlier tilts against the Arizona Coyotes and Columbus Blue Jackets. The Jets, executing at a much higher rate, forced Boston into chase mode on Mark Scheifele’s tally just 1:58 into Thursday’s contest.
“I thought they did the best job that we have faced so far as a forecheck, getting over the top of us with really good sticks,” Montgomery said. “Unfortunately, we didn’t manage the puck well, I guess. But I give credit to how determined they were at checking us.”
Such a start to the season warrants a target on the Bruins’ back. As they sit atop the NHL food chain, they should expect nothing but the same against the rest of the league going forward.
“I think we’re still trying to find that ‘wave after wave’ game that we’ve had early on in the season,” Foligno said. “Listen, teams are gunning. They’re coming. They’re not letting up. They know what’s at stake. They know that you know, we have a team that can do a lot of damage if they’re not at their best.”
Foligno produces the game-winner on Boston’s third line
The veteran forward delivered the third-period strike en route to yet another Bruins’ win at home
Foligno, who bounced around Boston’s middle-six during the third period, finished off the feed from Charlie Coyle while fulfilling third-line duty.
The Foligno-Coyle-Frederic line encountered similar success earlier this month in Vegas. The trio worked a high-low cycle, and Charlie Coyle wristed home an insurance tally off the point feed from Derek Forbort.
“I do like Foligno being up there with Frederic and Coyle, gives us a real big heavy line that’s hard to handle,” Montgomery said. “But I really like him with Nosek and Smitty [Craig Smtih] or [A.J.] Greer as well. You know, like they’ve been able to establish really good starts for us by starting them at the beginning of games.”
Foligno’s ability to play throughout the lineup, especially the bottom six, exemplifies Boston’s depth. That versatility from Foligno and others provided a significant boost to the Bruins’ historic early-season run.
“We play a similar style, holding on to pucks, being heavy,” Foligno noted. “When I get an opportunity with those guys, you just want to continue to do the same things, and you know, drive play…when [Montgomery] puts us out there, it’s usually for a reason.”
Swayman had another solid outing.
The second-year goalie provided a second consecutive quality outing following last Saturday’s victory against Columbus. After a shaky performance in Arizona, the 24-year-old goaltender has seemingly regained his stride.
Swayman stopped Winnipeg’s remaining 23 shots after surrendering two of the first four he faced — neither of which were his fault. Despite the tough luck, Swayman’s confidence never wavered as he made crucial saves in the latter half of the first period to keep his team afloat before the Bruins found their skating legs in the second.
“I thought he made exceptional saves,” Montgomery said about Swayman. “When it was 2-0, he kept it 2-0 to give us an opportunity to get back in this game.”
A more condensed schedule awaits the Black and Gold in the coming months. As the postseason approaches, the Bruins hope that Swayman’s recent resurgence will lighten Linus Ullmark’s workload.
“A lot of the credit goes to the guys in front of me,” Swayman said. “You focus on one shot at a time and take the positives from the play before we move on. So that’s what I wanted to focus on and luckily didn’t let another one in.”