Bruins

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

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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.”

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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. 

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Talking Points: Khudobin keeps rolling in shootout win

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Talking Points: Khudobin keeps rolling in shootout win

GOLD STAR: Who else but Anton Khudobin? The Bruins backup netminder improved to 6-0-2 on the season and upped his NHL-leading save percentage to .938 while making 40 saves in a shootout win over the New Jersey Devils. Khudobin was outstanding stoning players like Nico Hischier and Blake Coleman on breakaways, and stood tall in the third period while the Bruins were outshot 15-5 and ended up tying the game. Even better Khudobin was super-competitive in the shootout where he was challenging shooters, and even stared down Hischier after he poke-checked the puck away from him on his attempt. The Bruins don’t win Wednesday night’s game without Khudobin playing the way he did, and that should pretty much guarantee that he plays again on Friday afternoon against the Penguins.

BLACK EYE: One shot and one hit in 8:28 of ice time for Jimmy Hayes in his first game against his old Bruins team, so pretty much par for the course from the underachieving big guy. Hayes has scored a couple of goals for the Devils this season, but he’s been mostly the same as in the past with sporadic scoring, intermittent tough guy play in the danger areas and then long stretches where you don’t even notice the 6-foot-6 guy out on the ice. Of the two ex-Bruins forwards going up against their old team tonight, Drew Stafford was by far the better of the two with three shots on net and at least one pretty decent scoring chance among them after stealing a puck from Frank Vatrano.

TURNING POINT: The Bruins set things up for their shootout win with a strong opening first period when it came to finishing off plays. Yes, they were outshot by a 15-10 margin, but they also made two big plays with Jake DeBrusk scoring a goal and then David Pastrnak setting up Patrice Bergeron for his fifth goal of the season. Beyond that Anton Khudobin also stopped 14 pucks in the first period that included a number of scoring chances for the Devils, and it showed what the Bruins are capable of when they’re on the right side of some key plays early in the game. Sure, the Devils clawed their way back in, but the Bruins felt like they had the game in control because of the work they put in during the first period.

HONORABLE MENTION: Charlie McAvoy led all skaters with a game-high 27:04 of ice time, and played a strong game while totaling three shots on net and three blocked shots. But he saved the real good stuff for the 11th round of the shootout when he threw a nifty stick move at Cory Schneider, and then roofed a backhanded attempt in tight and close to the net. The McAvoy shootout move begged the question why it took so long to get to him, but also mercifully closed out a shootout session that felt like it could have gone on forever between the Bruins and Devils. The finishing move from the 19-year-old was pure, unadulterated skill with the puck.

BY THE NUMBERS: 1 – the first NHL career point for Matt Grzelcyk arrived in the first period when he picked up an assist on a lead pass off the boards that freed Jake DeBrusk up for a goal-scoring rush.

QUOTE TO NOTE: “It’s the end of a road trip, so give the guys credit. They dug down deep and found a way to get the two points.” – Bruins head coach Bruce Cassidy,  

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Bruins outlast Devils in 11-round shootout

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Bruins outlast Devils in 11-round shootout

NEWARK, N.J. Charlie McCoy scored in the 11th round of the shootout to lift the Boston Bruins to a 3-2 win over the New Jersey Devils on Wednesday night.

Anton Khudobin made 40 saves as Boston improved to 9-7-4 with its third straight win-all with Khudobin in goal.

Jake DeBrusk and Patrice Bergeron scored first period goals for the Bruins.

New Jersey has dropped three of its last five in falling to 12-5-4.

Jesper Bratt and Brian Gibbons scored for the Devils, and Cory Schneider made 27 saves.

The shootout opened with Hall and David Pastrnak trading goals. And it stayed that way until McAvoy's game-winner

Prior to the extra period, the first of three regular season meetings between the longtime Eastern Conference rivals was essentially a special teams affair.

Despite not scoring on their four power plays and surrendering a man advantage goal to the Devils, it was the Bruins who left with two points thanks to two first period even strength strikes and the play of their ostensible backup goaltender.

The Bruins struck first when rookie left winger DeBrusk opened the scoring with his fifth of the season with a shot from the right circle at 1:25. And Bergeron added to Boston's lead with his fifth of the season at 11:02.

The Bruins had a two-goal lead and Khudobin, who made his third straight start, tried to make it hold up with a pad save on a Nico Hischier break-in with and a diving stop on Travis Zajac in a span of 1:13. But there was nothing he could do on Bratt's power play goal with 2:50 left as New Jersey's rookie right winger lifted a loose puck in the slot to halve the deficit while Brian Boyle was tied up with Zdeno Chara in front of Khudobin. A video review upheld the goal.

The game remained 2-1 until the Devils equalized on Gibbons' top-of-the-crease deflection with 4:44 left in regulation. Up to that point, though, Khudobin was the story as the netminder stopped a Blake Coleman shorthanded attempt with 10:35 left in the second. Khudobin also benefitted from Hischier, the first overall pick in last June's NHL draft, losing control of the puck alongside the goal line late in the period. Midway through the third, Khudobin stoned Hischier from the top of the crease.

The Devils outshot the Bruins, 42-29.

NOTES: Prior to the game, New Jersey announced RW Kyle Palmieri would miss 4-6 weeks with a broken right foot, suffered in the Devils' 4-3 overtime win in Minnesota Monday. The team later announced Palmieri had been placed on the injured reserve retroactive to Monday. .New Jersey scratched D Dalton Prout and RW Stefan Noesen. .Bruins C Ryan Spooner dressed for the first time since suffering a torn right adductor on Oct. 15. .Boston scratched LW Matt Beleskey, D Torey Krug and D Paul Postma. .The Bruins did not have LW Anders Bjork (undisclosed), LW Brad Marchand (upper body injury), RW David Backes (colon surgery) and D Adam McQuaid (broken right fibula). .Boston announced RW Jordan Szwarz had been sent down to AHL Providence. .The Devils announced Friday's home game against Vancouver will coincide with the team hosting the NHL and NHLPA "joint initiative Hockey Fights Cancer" as part of the "annual Cancer Awareness Month."

UP NEXT

Bruins: Host Pittsburgh Friday afternoon.

Devils: Host Vancouver Friday night.

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