All due respect to Zdeno Chara as the No. 1 star of the game, according to 98.5 the Sports Hub, but Patrice Bergeron was the dominant force Saturday afternoon in the win over the Detroit Red Wings. It was Bergeron who scored two of Boston’s three goals, led all Bruins players with six shots on net and eight total shot attempts and won 15 of 20 face-offs while completely dominating his 17:21 of ice time. The first goal was the game-winner in the third period as he stepped into a perfect dish from Brad Marchand and smoked a one-timer past Jimmy Howard for his ninth goal of the season. Then he scored his 10th for good measure on an empty-netter from mid-ice as Niklas Kronwall was attempting to tackle him with the puck. This was a Bergeron-type of day where veterans like him were really leading the way.
Tough day for Martin Frk, who only ended up playing nine-plus minutes in the game after a disastrous first period. Frk had a rebound that bounced straight up in the air nearly carom into the net off him were it not for a quick reaction save. Then, later on, that same shift Frk attempted to simply receive a bank pass off the boards, caught an edge and then slammed hard into the side boards where it looked like he sustained some damage. Frk eventually returned to the bench, but those two plays back-to-back should have been enough for him to decide to take the rest of the afternoon off ahead of the Christmas break.
The Bruins were outshot 13-9 in the middle period and certainly weren’t playing their best hockey but they managed to turn things around in the final 20 minutes to finish strong heading into the break. Their best players simply stepped up. Bergeron scored both of his goals in the third. Marchand set up the first one with a slick pass to his longtime linemate and Tuukka Rask slammed the door with 12 saves in the final 20 minutes as the Red Wings desperately attempted a push. It’s been impressive to watch different groups of players step up at different times as the Bruins have gone on their run over the past month-plus. Today, it was certainly about Boston’s best players carrying the day.
David Backes only had a handful of hours of sleep the past couple of days as his wife gave birth to their son, but the 33-year-old still suited up and became a big factor. Backes had the primary assist on Boston’s power-play goal in the first period on a smart pass from below the goal line and then he also notched a helper while rotating in with Bergeron and Marchand in the closing minutes of the third with the B’s nursing a one-goal lead. Backes finished with two assists, a plus-1 and a brand new baby boy in 19:07 of ice time. It sets a great example when veteran players like Marchand and Backes suck it up through illness or fatigue to suit up and play. It’s an even better one when they can actually factor positively into the game.
BY THE NUMBERS
8-0-1 – Tuukka Rask’s record over the past nine games as he continues to be very strong between the pipes for a Bruins team that’s rising through the ranks.
QUOTE TO NOTE
“Merry Christmas, everybody!” –David Pastrnak popped his head into the postgame dressing room and blurted out a holiday message before off he went into that good night in a sleigh headed home.