McAvoy caps off Bruins' comeback in overtime thriller

McAvoy caps off Bruins' comeback in overtime thriller

GOLD STAR: Tommy Wingels got off a plane at 11 a.m. this morning after being traded to the Bruins yesterday, and became one of the biggest factors in the win for the Bruins little more than 24 hours after his trade from the Blackhawks. Wingels stepped into a third line role with the injury to Patrice Bergeron, and kicked in a goal, two points, a plus-2 rating in 15:06 of ice time with two shots on net, seven shot attempts and a pair of hits. The goal was a game-tying snipe into the second period that ended up pushing the game into the extra session, and throughout Wingels showed, tenacity and the kind of high energy that will make him a factor for the Black and Gold. The first impression was a very good one for Wingels and the Bruins. 

BLACK EYE: Jeff Skinner made one nice play on the PP to set up a Carolina goal with a redirect at the Boston net, but other than that the skilled Hurricanes forward wasn’t really noticeable at all during the game. Instead he managed just a single shot on net in his 16:56 of ice time, had a giveaway and finished a minus-1 rating in a very underwhelming body of work. You would have expected more out of a player on a team that’s lost five games in a row as they circle the drain and fall out of playoff contention, but instead the former All-Star forward was just another guy for the Hurricanes in an overtime defeat. Once he had his assist on the PP in the first period there wasn’t much more to his game after that point when Carolina needed him. 

TURNING POINT: The Bruins were truly never in control of the game until they got in the overtime session where they dominated possession, had the extra session’s only shot and created the game-winning play just a minute plus into OT. That was when Riley Nash freed up Charlie McAvoy in stride, and he pushed forward with Brad Marchand on his wing as the 2-on-1 odd-man rush looking to do some damage. McAvoy looked off Marchand, and then beat Scott Darling top corner with a wrist shot for his seventh goal of the season. McAvoy’s highlight reel stuff has been a little quiet lately, but it seems like the rookie defenseman’s game is beginning to pick up steam again. The win improved the Bruins to 3-6 in overtime this season. 


HONORABLE MENTION: Charlie McAvoy had one of his best games of the last couple of months while topping 23 minutes of ice time, and ending the game with a flourish in the overtime session when he went top corner with a wrist shot. McAvoy finished with a goal, two points and a plus-2 in 23:06 of ice time, had three shots on net, blocked four shots and found time to throw a couple of hits as well while being a steady, dynamic puck-mover that didn’t make any defensive mistakes. It was a nice response from the weekend when it was McAvoy that got moved in the crease leading to the third period game-winner for the Maple Leafs. Instead he was strong, solid and full of the kind of energetic play that the Bruins have come to expect from their standout rookie D-man. 

BY THE NUMBERS: 1 – the number of goals for Rick Nash in a Bruins uniform after scoring the team’s first goal of the night, and also notching the 800th point of his NHL career with the lamp-lighter as well. 

QUOTE TO NOTE: “They’re both experienced players in the league, and I think they’re good people that want to help the team win, so that’s part of it. Like anybody, you go to a new job, you want to [make a] good first impression. I think that's human nature." –Bruce Cassidy, talking about new trade acquisitions Rick Nash and Tommy Wingels both having strong efforts for the Bruins in Tuesday night’s win.


Donato has fantastic debut, but Bruins fall to Blue Jackets in OT

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Donato has fantastic debut, but Bruins fall to Blue Jackets in OT

BOSTON – It wasn’t a winning debut for Bruins rookie Ryan Donato, but it was nonetheless extremely impressive. 

Cam Atkinson scored on a wrist shot in overtime to give the Blue Jackets a 5-4 overtime in on Monday night at TD Garden, but 21-year-old Donato finished with a goal and three points in an impressive, impact performance in his first NHL game after signing with the Black and Gold.

The Bruins looked a little shaky very early in the game as Brandon Carlo coughed up a puck in the D-zone that immediately turned into a Thomas Vanek-to-Boone Jenner strike for the Blue Jackets. But the Bruins responded in the second period with a first NHL goal from Ryan Donato, a bombed beauty from the right face-off dot after playing the give-and-go game with Torey Krug. 

It was the eighth Bruins player to score their first NHL goal for the Black and Gold this season in a youth movement that’s been as overwhelming as it’s been straight-up good. 

Brad Marchand followed less than two minutes later with a top shelf backhanded bullet off a drop pass from David Pastrnak for his 31st goal of the season, and the Bruins made it 3-1 on a Riley Nash power play strike assisted by Donato as well. 

The Blue Jackets got one right back with a Sonny Milano wide open score on the backdoor, and Thomas Vanek and Artemi Panarin both scored in the third period to give the Blue Jackets a short-lived lead. Once again the Bruins fought right back and this time it was Donato throwing a backhanded saucer pass to David Krejci all alone in front for his 17th goal of the season. 

That play capped off a three-point night for the 21-year-old Donato in his first NHL appearance, and really sets the stage for what could be an impactful late season addition to the Black and Gold’s roster. After a scoreless rest of the third period, the Bruins and Blue Jackets settled things in the extra session with Boston picking up another point in defeat.


Haggerty: With Donato's debut, B's circle of life complete

Haggerty: With Donato's debut, B's circle of life complete

BRIGHTON – If you stay in the NHL for long enough, the hockey circle of life becomes complete for any player.

Sometimes it might be coaching the son of a former teammate or a former NHL player watching their kids suit up against guys they used to play against. Much more rarely, it might be father and son playing on the same team as the late, great Hall of Famer Gordie Howe did with his sons at the tail end of his brilliant career.

Much more common are NHL players sticking around long enough to play with sons of their former teammates. Such was the case with Patrice Bergeron, 32, skating at practice on Monday with the newly signed Ryan Donato. Bergeron couldn’t help but feel a little old at the notion, but immediately went back to his days as an 18-year-old NHL rookie playing with Teddy Donato in the final season of his NHL career back in 2003-04.

“It’s definitely different. When I was an 18-year-old coming in [to the NHL] I was playing with his dad, and that year [Ryan, as a little kid] was skating a few times after practice and I was there,” said Bergeron, going into the way-back machine to when he was the youngest player in the league in his first season. “Now he’s in the locker room and going to be a part of the team. He comes from a great family. I just hope I can help him as much as Teddy [helped me].

“It certainly doesn’t make me feel any younger. I still think I am, and that I’ve got a few good years ahead of me. It’s a little weird to see that, but that where I am in my career, I guess.”

Clearly, the memories of the younger Donato are notable for Bergeron, and they are doubly so for a young guy in Donato who's idolized No. 37. In fact, Donato said he was blown away that Bergeron even remembered him when they bumped into each other at the summer pro league in Foxboro a couple of years back.

It was a long way away from Bergeron heading over to Donato’s house for pool parties when he was still a teenager just starting to make NHL waves.

“This is what kind of guy Patrice Bergeron is...he was around the house a little bit when I was a little kid and he was a rookie in the NHL,” said Donato, telling the story at last summer’s development camp after dominating the rest of his Bruins prospect peers for a week’s time. “I hadn’t seen him for a pretty long time, and then he saw me in Foxboro a couple of years ago and said ‘Hey Ryan, how’s it going?’

“That’s pretty cool when your idol and the player you most look up to can remember you like that. It says a lot about him as a person, and we know what he’s all about as a player. He’s just a great of the best.”

It was when Donato retold that story to that we had a pretty good idea he wouldn’t be signing anywhere else but with the Black and Gold.

Bergeron and Donato won’t get to play together at the start, unfortunately, with the Bruins franchise center still out with a fractured right foot. That’s part of the reason the Donato, who turns 22 April 9, is being brought in with Bergeron, David Backes and Jake DeBrusk down with injuries and the Bruins in need of some dynamic wingers with offensive pop. Clearly, Donato has proven everything he needs to at the collegiate level with 26 goals in 29 games this season at Harvard and he was Team USA’s most dynamic player in PyeongChang with five goals scored in the tournament.

It’s still unclear how much of an impact Donato is going to make jumping straight from the NCAAs to the NHL, but he’s ready to start living out his NHL dreams with the Bruins team that also drafted and developed his dad 30 years ago.

“It’s a whirlwind. Right now it’s pretty crazy. Obviously, I’m really excited," he said. "It’s something I don’t want to happen too fast so I can cherish every second of it. Right now it’s a lot of fun,” said Donato, who signed his two-year, entry-level contract on Sunday. “Even going out for [the morning skate] was a dream come true. It didn’t even feel real yet.

“I just want to play well and do whatever I can to help the team. I just want to go in confident and do what I can to help. At the end of the day, it’s just hockey and I’ve been playing it my whole life, so hopefully, I can play to the best of my abilities.”

With a strong Bruins support system headed by a couple of his father's former NHL teammates in Don Sweeney and Cam Neely- who have known him since he was a little kid - and a roster primed for a long playoff run, the younger Donato couldn’t be asking for a better situation to show what he can do in the NHL. 

Now, it’s up to Donato to show he’s a chip off the old block as the son of a former Bruins forward who scored 150 goals and totaled nearly 350 points in a distinguished NHL career. Perhaps it’ll give him a chance to show that he’s going to be even better than the old man, who was pretty darn good in Black and Gold.