GOLD STAR: Once again it’s Patrice Bergeron with a couple of goals that provided the difference in the third period. Bergeron widened his team lead with his 26th and 27th goals of the season, moved into the NHL’s top-10 in goals scored this season with another multi-goal outburst. Bergeron finished with the two goals in 19:56 of ice time to go along with six shots on net, seven shot attempts, a takeaway, a blocked shot and 13-of-19 face-off wins in his night’s work. Bergeron continues to string together impressive nightly performances that push up his standing in the Hart Trophy conversation. It’s all getting real for No. 37 in what could turn out to be his best NHL season.
BLACK EYE: It was another tough night for David Pastrnak, who took an ill-advised slashing penalty in the first period after getting stood up at the blue line by Mark Giordano a couple of times. Bruce Cassidy responded by dropping Pastrnak from his normal spot with Patrice Bergeron and Brad Marchand, and installing David Backes on the right wing instead once the physicality started getting cranked up against the Flames. Backes remained there and it turned into a two-goal performance from Bergeron as the entire Bruins team responded with a solid final 40 minutes. Pastrnak finished with just a couple of shots on net and a minus-1 rating in 12:02 of ice time, and was a non-factor in a stretch where he’s been very quiet offensively.
TURNING POINT: After getting outplayed in the opening 20 minutes, the Bruins turned it up and turned it on in the final 40 minutes to leave the middling beginning far into the rear view mirror. Some of it was about Bruce Cassidy’s adjustment pushing David Backes onto the top line with Patrice Bergeron and Brad Marchand, and some of it was probably about the Bruins getting sick of some of the mediocre play they’d been producing lately. In the second period the Bruins outshot the Flames by a 16-8 margin, got the game-tying goal from Riley Nash after an excellent individual play to set things up by Charlie McAvoy and turned the way that the entire game was spinning. Once the momentum had shifted it was simply about finishing off the Flames, which the B’s and Bergeron did with two goals before Zdeno Chara’s empty netter.
HONORABLE MENTION: Riley Nash has quietly been very strong for the Bruins this season as a third line center, and that continued with a two-goal performance that got Boston up and running against Calgary. The two goals were Nash’s 9th and 10th goals of the season, and added to a night where he was a plus-2 in 14:33 of strong ice time while switching out David Backes for younger, faster David Pastrnak on his right side. Nash finished with three shots on net, a takeaway and a 4-of-11 performance in the face-off circle on a really strong night up the middle for the Black and Gold. Nash has been quietly very good with 10 goals and 36 points in a strong follow-up in his second season in Black and Gold.
BY THE NUMBERS: 1 – the number of assists for Charlie McAvoy in the win, which snapped a six game scoreless stretch for the rookie defenseman timed around the heart procedure he underwent just a couple of weeks ago.
QUOTE TO NOTE: “Everything they got, they earned. I thought we did a better job being a little more, sort of, belligerent, in the scoring area, getting to the goaltender for some second chances. [We were] managing the puck; we got it behind their D a lot better and forced some turnovers on the fore-check. We played much more to our style of play, how we want to wear teams down and eventually get our looks.” –Bruce Cassidy, on the Bruins’ return to their gritty, simple style of play in the win over the Flames after some recent defensive slippage.