OTTAWA – David Backes admitted he was guilty as charged for giving Sean Kuraly a headlock after the rookie center scored his first NHL goal to tie things up in Game 5, and said he should have given him a “noogie” for what happened next.
What happened next was Kuraly unbelievably scoring twice for the Bruins including a double-overtime game-winner in Boston’s 3-2 win over the Ottawa Senators in Game 5. The goal keeps the Bruins alive to fight another day in Game 6 on Sunday, and officially marks Kuraly as a certified playoff hero after a two-goal performance when he was placed into the B’s lineup for the struggling Ryan Spooner.
- Talking Points: Kuraly earns gold star for heroics
- Kuraly scores double-OT goal, Bruins stay alive with 3-2 victory
Kuraly was put into the lineup because Bruce Cassidy felt he would bring more “will to win puck battles” in a desperate playoff situation for the Bruins, and that’s exactly how it played out in the game.
The double-overtime winner also happened after it appeared that Kuraly had won the game in overtime when he charged the net on a partial breakaway, and seemigly scored in a second-effort bid against Craig Anderson. But it was ruled no-goal on the ice due to goalie interference and upheld by video review, so that just meant Kuraly was going to have to promptly win in double-OT instead.
“The coaches and my linemates just told me to stick with it, told all of us to stick with it,” said Kuraly. “I think we did and we got rewarded.”
Kuraly was understandably excited after shoveling home the rebound of a Charlie McAvoy point shot for the double-overtime clincher, and seemed happier for the team than he was for himself.
“Wow. It feels good. It keeps the series going and we did what we came here to do. It was a good night,” said Kuraly, who posted six shots on net in 18 plus minutes of solid action centering Backes and Frank Vatrano for much of the game. “You don’t really know [how it feels] until you score your first goal, and it felt great. You work a long time to get that feeling, so to see it go in felt really good.”
Clearly Kuraly’s teammates felt good for him as well after the 24-year-old posted just a single assist in eight NHL games with the Bruins this season, and nobody could have foreseen the clutch offensive explosion waiting in Game 5. It’s just one of those great Stanley Cup playoff stories where a lesser-known player steps up and delivers in a big way for a team that needed that performance at that exact time.
“He’s got the tools and he’s flying,” said Backes. “He makes a play [on the first goal] by getting in on the fore-check and I was able to be the second man in there…he gets it to open ice and brings it to the net hard like we’ve talked about, and he scores his first NHL goal. With [David] Krejci out and some other guys out, we need other guys to step up and certainly tonight it was [Kuraly’s] night.
“He’s a great kid that works his butt off, so you couldn’t be happier. Tonight is his night and you love to see it. That’s as fun as it gets.”
As Backes referenced, the game-tying first goal for Kuraly was just as important for the Bruins in the second period. For that one the 6-foot-2, 205-pounder smashed into Chris Wideman on the fore-check initially and then later carried the puck on a wraparound goal that deflected in off Wideman’s skate as he fought to get his bearings in front of the Ottawa net.
That was the way the scoreboard remained until Kuraly again stepped up and scored the game-winner in double-overtime with a working man’s goal cleaning up rebounds in front of the net.