OTTAWA -- Frank Vatrano didn't score a goal in his final 16 regular-season games, and the 24-year-old only had two points over that time span as things tightened up defensively around the league.
The 5-foot-9, 201-pounder was definitely a bit snake-bitten during that dry spell, but he also wasn’t playing strong enough around the net. So there was some doubt as to whether Vatrano was going to make a difference in his first Stanley Cup playoff experience this spring.
Well, the East Longmeadow native put those doubts to bed right away by scoring a huge goal in the third period, tying the game and paving the way for a 2-1 Bruins victory over the Senators in Game 1.
The goal was a trademark Vatrano sniper shot from the high slot off a Riley Nash feed from near the sideboards, and went through a Dominic Moore screen on its way past Craig Anderson for a momentum-changing strike.
“I don’t think you win without [secondary scoring] in the playoffs," said interim coach Bruce Cassidy. "You need it and there are always guys that step up. Frankie can score. We know that. He hadn’t done it in a while, but he’s a guy that can put the puck in the net. He’s in the right spot, the puck found him and he’s got a great release.
“Hopefully that clears his mind a little bit because when you’re a goal-scorer that’s not scoring goals you can get in your own way a little bit. He went through a bit of that stretch, but I thought he was coming out of it playing a more complete game. That’s what you need to get out of it, but hopefully that’s what you need to loosen up a little bit.”
The goal coincided with Cassidy lifting Vatrano from his usual spot skating with Ryan Spooner, and instead placing him with Nash and Moore. Now they hope that this opens up the floodgates for Vatrano, who usually scores in bunches and could be a major help for the B's in the postseason if he does.