Bruins on third-period comeback: 'We just started to take over'

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Bruins on third-period comeback: 'We just started to take over'

RALEIGH, N.C. -- Once the momentum started there was no way of stopping it for the Boston Bruins.

In a season where the Bruins have routinely showed a “will to win” and have consistently dominated the third period, they did both while scoring five unanswered goals in the final 10 minutes to secure a comeback 6-4 win over the Carolina Hurricanes at PNC Arena. To call it a wild comeback or an exhilarating momentum shift would be selling things short of what actually happened in the latter half of the third period.

Down by two goals headed into the third period after playing what Bruce Cassidy called “the worst period of our season”, the Bruins lost Jake DeBrusk, Torey Krug and Zdeno Chara to injuries while also giving up a shorthanded goal to the Hurricanes to make a three-goal hole. It certainly looked like a lost evening playing in front of a half-empty Carolina building, but that’s when things turned for the best for the Black and Gold.

Afterward the smiling Bruins couldn’t quite explain what had just happened, but knew they totally enjoyed it while knowing they escaped after playing some bad hockey along with the great hockey.

“It was awesome, you know? We had 2-on-1’s two shifts in a row after we got it to a 4-4 [score],” said David Pastrnak, who notched his first career hat trick with three goals all in the third period. “I don’t get. The whole night we kind of didn’t have the legs, and it was no energy and we looked tired. Then all of a sudden we get a couple of goals and everybody is flying. Everything clicked for us. I guess we all wish we knew how to turn this click. But I think a big part of it is just that we have a good team with a lot of very good players.”

With a few extra reps based on the other two left shot guys going down to injury, Matt Grzelcyk scored a goal at just about the exact midway point of the third period. Then David Pastrnak and Danton Heinen scored goals in the next 1:17 of action, and the Bruins were getting odd-man rushes and breakaways while the Hurricanes were completely breaking down. It was as extreme a momentum shift as one would ever see in the NHL, and it was very clearly a tale of two hockey clubs headed in completely opposite directions.

The Bruins are supremely confident in their abilities to come back from any deficit against any other team, and aren’t the least bit thrown off by injuries or horrid periods of play. They just keep coming, and keep coming and keep coming until either time runs out on them, or they eventually impose their will on the other team.

The Hurricanes, on the other hand, are a broken team waiting for something bad to happen to them, and that self-fulfilling prophecy falls exactly into perfect hands with the poised, pointed Bruins doing the chasing. It was all helped along by Brad Marchand, who was talking, cajoling and reassuring his teammates that they were still in the game after starting to claw back with the Grzelcyk goal that closed it to a two-goal mountain to be climbed.

“You just kind of feel it on the bench when we get a goal that we just kind of start to take over, and that’s what happened again,” said Brad Marchand. “It’s exciting. It gives you a bit of an adrenaline rush when things start to go your way.

“It’s a little demoralizing when we go through the second period the way we did. But as soon as we got that second goal, you just kind of felt that rush go through you. That excitement gets back in you, and that belief. That’s a dangerous tool. It’s a lot of fun coming back like that. It doesn’t always work out, but when it does it’s very exciting.”

It is nights like Tuesday in Carolina where the Bruins accomplish the highly improbable, topple the odds and truly continue to cultivate “that belief” as Marchand talked about. It’s a belief that the Bruins are never truly out of a game even when trailing by three goals in the third period, and a belief that something special is happening where the Black and Gold can do amazing things when they are pushed to do something out of the ordinary.  

Certainly there are bigger goals for this season in Boston and the sights have been set pretty darn high with a deep, talented and dangerous hockey club, but it’s also going to be a long time before anybody forgets the night they exploded all over the Hurricanes for five goals in the third period for one of the greatest comebacks in the history of the Original Six franchise.


Morning Skate: Talking B's, Bergeron and the Hamburglar

Morning Skate: Talking B's, Bergeron and the Hamburglar

Here are all the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading, while in disbelief that the Hamburglar is getting a second go-round in NHL infamy. Good for him.

*In the interest of self-promotion, here’s Saturday’s 98.5 The Sports Hub's Hockey Show with yours truly joining Ryan Johnston, Bob Beers, Judd Sirott and Bill Jaffe to talk all things Black and Gold leading up to Saturday night’s Game 5 with the B’s having a chance to close out the series.

*Auston Matthews led the rest of the NHL as the top-selling NHL jersey for 2018, edging out Sidney Crosby and Connor McDavid for top honors. So he has that going for him, which is nice.

*Speaking of the Hamburglar, the mics picked up some of his Avalanche teammates colorfully excited about the way that Andrew Hammond played in goal last night.

*Speaking of the Maple Leafs, Damien Cox is coming with an elbow off the top turnbuckle for Frederik Andersen and the way he’s played in the series vs. the Bruins 

*Interesting piece on hockey development for NHL players, and how Torey Krug taking his time turned out to be key for the late-blooming, small-statured D-man.

*Carolina Hurricanes coach Bill Peters is flying the coop there and using his option to explore other NHL coaching opportunities while leaving with “no regrets.”

*For something completely different: Apparently way more men than women quit amid the harsh Boston Marathon conditions this past week, so here’s a story about why men are quitters and women are not. Okay then.


Cassidy expects Bergeron to play tonight

Cassidy expects Bergeron to play tonight

BRIGHTON, Mass – With a chance to close out their first-round series on home ice, it looks like the Bruins will get their best player back into the fold.

After a surprise, last-minute scratch ahead of Game 4 in Toronto, Patrice Bergeron (upper body injury) skated on Saturday morning with the rest of his team at Warrior Ice Arena and coach Bruce Cassidy said he's “looking good” to suit up for the Black and Gold against the Toronto Maple Leafs on Saturday night at TD Garden.

Bergeron went through a brief practice with the rest of his teammates and took his usual bumper role on the top power-play unit as they went through some drills, a couple of signs that No. 37 should be ready to go. There are no guarantees until he makes it through pregame warm-ups and the puck drops for Game 5, but it sure sounded a lot more promising for Bergeron than it did just a couple of days ago in Toronto.

“He looked good this morning,” said Cassidy. “If he’s fine in pregame skate, then I anticipate he’ll play, but we’ll make that decision after warm-ups. But it’s looking good.”

Bergeron wouldn’t elaborate on the injury other than to say it wasn’t something he’d been managing all along, meaning it was something caused by a hit he took in Boston’s Game 3 loss in Toronto. The fact that Bergeron skated Wednesday, Friday and Saturday would strongly indicate that it wasn’t a concussion as some might have blindly speculated, but probably some kind of shoulder/arm injury suffered absorbing one of a couple of hard hits he took in Toronto.

Bergeron said the medical staff would have final say on whether or not he played, but he felt pretty good after going through the morning skate.

“I feel good. Hopefully, it stays like that. We’ll see what happens when I talk to the training staff when I get to the rink,” said Bergeron. “The doctors and training staff thought it was better [to not play] for that game. I was definitely confident [in the team], but you’re also a lot more nervous when you’re watching the game rather than playing in it.

“In the playoffs, it’s definitely a lot more painful [to miss] and that was a big discussion we had with the training staff. It’s always tough, for sure. I’m optimistic, and now it’s about selling it to the other side.”

Clearly, the Bruins could use him after his line piled up 20 points in the first two games in the series prior to Bergeron taking the injurious hit in Game 3, but the other good news is that the Black and Gold were 12-5-2 in 19 games missed by their top center this season.  

Here are the projected Bruins line combos and D-pairings for Game 5 based on the morning skate: