Bruins' best come through in must-have win over Coyotes


Bruins' best come through in must-have win over Coyotes

GLENDALE, Arizona – It was too early to panic, but the Boston Bruins were very clearly in a situation this weekend where they needed their best players to step up and earn a win for a hockey club struggling with injuries and a brand new roster.

That’s exactly what happened on Saturday night in the desert as Zdeno Chara, Brad Marchand and David Pastrnak all had their best games of the season and led the way for a Bruins group that took home a 6-2 victory against a winless Arizona Coyotes club at Gila River Arena.

“It was a very good win for us. Everybody contributed to it. Obviously we know our job as veterans is to pull a good share of the load and we got that,” said Chara. “The younger group of players stepped up as well. You need that. You need to have everybody on the same page. Otherwise it’s going to be more difficult. But I thought [this win} had a lot of positives and we capitalized on a lot of our chances.”


Each of those three players had a multi-point night and Anton Khudobin did the job between the pipes in his first start of the young season, and it was exactly what was needed after the Bruins had their confidence shook in back-to-back losses to the Colorado Avalanche.

“Everyone has to do their job. You can’t expect to play bad games and play winning hockey in this league,” said Marchand, who scored his team-leading third goal of the season on a breakaway goal for him in the second period. “We need everyone to do their job every single night and be consistent, and chip in at the right times. It was good to have that tonight and we’re going to need that moving forward.”

Boston’s big money players were right at it from the very beginning. After the Coyotes jumped on the board with the first goal, Chara responded 36 seconds later with a bombed shot that bounced into the open net off David Pastrnak’s leg as he was jumping up in the air. It was probably the most painful goal of Pastrnak’s young career given who was shooting the puck, but it was also an important answer for a hockey team that needed playmakers to step up.

The Bruins really took over the game in the second period with a power-play goal from Jake DeBrusk camped out in front, and then a pair of big plays from Chara with the game in the balance. On the first, Chara cut to the net on a broken play in the Arizona defensive zone and Marchand found him as a big-bodied finisher looking to do some offensive damage.

Louis Domingue made the first stop on Chara, but there was nobody to fight off the 6-foot-9 defenseman as he scooped up the puck and rifled it back into the net for the eventual game-winning goal. In all, Chara finished with a goal and three points, a plus-3 rating and eight shot attempts in 20:18 of ice time while once again showing there is plenty of game still left in his 40-year-old body when the big moments arise.  

“There’s a reason he’s our captain and leader, and it just goes to show why he continues to be a very good hockey player. . . a great hockey player,” said Marchand. “He steps up at the right time and always comes up big in big hockey games. He did that again tonight. We’d lost a couple in a row and needed a boost, and he was there to give it to us. He’s going to be a Hall of Famer for a reason and he showed that again tonight.”

Little more than 10 minutes later, Chara and Marchand teamed up to ice the game with a pre-orchestrated face-off play after a successful draw in the defensive zone. Marchand blew the zone up the left side and Chara simply rimmed the puck up to him along the boards for a breakaway where the Nose Face Killah finished things with a backhanded shelf beauty.

With Patrice Bergeron and David Backes still out of the lineup, it was up to the rest of the healthy Bruins to start finding some answers. That’s exactly what they did in an impressive team-wide effort sparked by the Bruins leadership group.

“It starts with Zee tonight. I thought our D-corps had an off night in Colorado and that’s going to happen. Tonight they didn’t and did a real good job for us. It started there. Pasta and Marchand, their line was solid with Riley Nash in there,” said Bruce Cassidy. “We saw it on opening night. If we stick to it, manage pucks, play behind them and get skating with some patience then we can be a good team. It’s when we start trying to force. I don’t care how good of a skating team you are. . . if you’re forcing plays and nobody is back-checking then it’s not going to end well.

“Any goals around the front of the net are always key. Zee at the front of the net is a load to move, so that was interesting. Good for him. He wanted to make a difference tonight, and I think Zee deserves a lot of credit for the win. Pastrnak had his legs tonight and that opens up space for everybody else, and Marchand was trying to find him. Pastrnak probably could have had more goals if he played a little more selfish with the puck, but no complaints from me. We need him to be good every night.”

It’s not going to go the way it’s drawn up every night, and both games against Colorado were prime pieces of evidence to that point. But it was important for the B’s players still standing to show that this team can survive, and thrive, no matter which guys are healthy and in the lineup, and the best of the best for the Black and Gold finally did that in a must-have Saturday night win in Arizona. 


Morning Skate: Kelly to Ducks, Plekanec to Leafs

NBC Sports Boston Photo

Morning Skate: Kelly to Ducks, Plekanec to Leafs

Here are the all the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading while nothing could be finer than a Sunday spent in Buffalo. 


*Congrats to Chris Kelly, who parlayed his captaincy with Team Canada into a one-year contract with the Anaheim Ducks for the rest of this season. 


*A very good move by the Maple Leafs to land Montreal center Tomas Plekanec, who is definitely a guy that gets under the skin of Bruins center David Krejci if Boston and Toronto do indeed meet in the first round of the playoffs. 


*Patrik Elias gets the hero’s treatment from the New Jersey Devils after a fantastic career with the organization. 


*Do not get on the goaltenders in St. Louis with mock cheers, or you will surely feel the wrath of Vladimir Tarasenko. 


*What happens when an excellent, electric hockey game gets in the way of a trade deadline where the Montreal Canadiens are selling off pieces? 


*For something completely different: Here’s an excellent piece on the work of NBC production people back in Stamford, Connecticut that are the backbone of the Olympics coverage that everybody has come to know and love. 


Bruins sign Gionta to a one-year deal as "depth, veteran leadership" piece

File Photo

Bruins sign Gionta to a one-year deal as "depth, veteran leadership" piece

BUFFALO – Amid rumors that Brian Gionta might be linked to Boston ahead of Monday’s trade deadline, the Bruins have signed the 39-year-old former Cup champion to a one-year deal coming off his Olympic stint with Team USA in PyeongChang. Gionta agreed to a one-year, one-way deal with the Bruins for $700,000, which makes much more sense as a 13th forward/depth piece after the Bruins also finalized their blockbuster trade for Rick Nash with the New York Rangers

The 5-foot-7, 178-pound Gionta had 15 goals and 35 points for the Buffalo Sabres last season, but had sat out all of this year with the chance to compete in the Olympics this past month before hooking on with an NHL team for the final few months of the season. The former Boston College standout will certainly add an experienced, veteran option for the Bruins should some of their younger wingers hit any kind of a competitive wall down the stretch. 

"Depth and veteran leadership and a player that's highly motivated,” said Bruins GM Don Sweeney, when asked what Gionta brings to the table. “He waited to see what clubs might have been in a position to be in the playoff race and we hope we can continue to be one those clubs and he's going to add to that."

What isn’t expected is that Gionta will be a regular, every day member of the Bruins lineup unless injuries or underperformance creep into players’ games in the final few months of the season, or into the playoffs. Instead the Bruins will be bringing on a former captain with the Montreal Canadiens and Buffalo Sabres that’s won a Stanley Cup on his NHL resume, and has posted 32 goals and 68 points in 112 career playoff games during his 1,000 plus career NHL games. 

Gionta wasn’t available to play with the Bruins for Sunday’s late afternoon tilt against the Buffalo Sabres, but will instead get worked into the Black and Gold mix when the Bruins resume practicing Tuesday in Boston.