Bruins

Bruins depth finally comes through in a massive bottom-6 night in Game 7

Bruins depth finally comes through in a massive bottom-6 night in Game 7

BOSTON – For the past two playoff series between the Bruins and the Maple Leafs, it always proved true that the B's needed offense from Patrice Bergeron, Brad Marchand and David Pastrnak if they expected to win. So, it stood to reason that the B’s would again need offense from their big three on Tuesday night in Game 7 if they expected to eliminate the Maple Leafs and advance to the second round.

But that trend came to a definitive stop with a 5-1 win over the Maple Leafs where the third and fourth lines ruled the day for the Black and Gold and finally made Toronto pay for the absence of suspended center Nazem Kadri. Joakim Nordstrom and Sean Kuraly kicked in goals from the fourth line, Marcus Johansson provided the eventual game-winner in the first period and Charlie Coyle got an empty-netter late in the third period.

“We have four lines that can contribute, that’s one of the strengths of this team,” said Johansson, who scored his first goal of the series at the biggest time in Game 7 on a curl toward the net after stealing a puck from Jake Gardiner behind the Leafs net. “Everyone’s ready to go and everyone is doing what it takes, and we’ve got a lot of guys who can score and score big goals.”

So, it wasn’t about the star players for the Bruins in the most important game in the series, it was instead about the role players stepping up to be Stanley Cup playoff heroes in Boston’s time of need.

“You rely on everyone in the playoffs and that’s how teams are advancing and I thought tonight was a perfect example,” said Bergeron. “Everyone’s got a job to do and obviously contributing offensively is great and you take away those goals, even though I thought they were in their zone for most of the night creating some momentum for us and got things rolling basically.

“I think [our depth] kind of creates some problems as far as matchups and stuff for other teams. But, you’re playing some good teams also and teams that have also that same depth. But I think it’s always about outworking and finding ways to compete and try to beat the matchup that you’re up against. And you don’t have to rely all the time on the perfect matchup because you know you have the confidence in all the lines that are jumping over the boards; it makes a big difference.”

Sure, Bergeron also picked up a meaningless empty-net goal in the final second of the third period, but Game 7 was effectively won by Boston’s bottom-6 forwards. That’s a far cry from a fourth line that struggled at the beginning of the series without the injured Kuraly, and a third line that was pretty much nonexistent all season until Coyle arrived at the trade deadline.

Certainly, the goals from Coyle and Johansson highlighted the trade deadline moves engineered by Don Sweeney a few months ago, and it also underscored Bruce Cassidy’s decision to ice a speedier lineup vs. Toronto while scratching Chris Wagner and David Backes.

“We talked about it at the start of the series that we felt we needed a certain type of lineup to beat Toronto, and we finally found it late in the series. I thought Game 6 and 7 we skated well. A guy like [Joakim] Nordstrom is a good part of that, [Karson] Kuhlman, [Sean] Kuraly obviously,” said Cassidy. “The odd thing about this series for us is we actually got healthier as the series went on. Usually, in the playoffs it’s the opposite, so for us to get guys back, John Moore, [Marcus] Johansson was the other one who got hurt, [Sean] Kuraly, I think helped us a lot.

“Donny [General Manager Don Sweeney] has done a great job with depth, so we know we can use different players because of injuries.”

The Bruins will again need that depth beginning Thursday night against the Columbus Blue Jackets, a team clearly more well-rounded than the dangerously skilled Maple Leafs. So, it’s a good thing they got rolling at exactly the right time in the series and powered the B’s to a massive Game 7 win. 

Click here to download the new MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the Celtics easily on your device.

Haggerty's Talking Points: Torey Krug's offense shines, David Pastrnak enduring first rough patch

Haggerty's Talking Points: Torey Krug's offense shines, David Pastrnak enduring first rough patch

GOLD STAR: Jonathan Toews hasn’t had a great season as evidenced by just five goals on his ledger for the year, but he had a nice little throwback performance against the Bruins on Thursday night. Toews stripped David Pastrnak of the puck in overtime and then scored on a breakaway at the other end of the ice for the game-winner in a neat little dispatching of the B’s in the extra session.

Toews finished with three shots on net, six shot attempts, three hits, a couple of takeaways and a couple blocked shots to go along with 17-of-28 face-off wins in 19:37 of ice time for the Blackhawks. It was a vintage Toews performance for Chicago in a win for the Blackhawks and it’s something that hasn’t happened nearly enough for him this season.

BLACK EYE: David Pastrnak is going through his first tough stretch of the season. He finished with more giveaways (three) than shots on net (two) and also took a pair of minor penalties while pretty clearly getting frustrated with the rough treatment he’s getting from opponents.

It was Pastrnak that went down in overtime with the puck – either by a trip from Jonathan Toews or a flop looking for a call depending on who you are talking to – and created the game-winning goal for Toews at the other end of the ice. Pastrnak has now gone two games without a goal for just the third time all season and is now falling off his 70-goal pace for the season while seemingly getting frustrated by being targeted by the other teams.

TURNING POINT: For the Bruins it was the ends and beginnings of periods where they lost their focus and lost the game. The Bruins allowed two goals in 37 seconds in the closing minutes of the first period to dig themselves a considerable hole against the Blackhawks, and then they coughed up another goal to Chicago in the first 17 seconds of the third period to go down by a 3-0 score.

People will want to talk about the play in overtime that lost it for the Bruins, but it was their wandering focus at points in regulation that ended up saddling them with the loss when it was all said and done. The Bruins eventually lost in OT, and they really deserved to lose based on the way they played for the first 45 or so minutes of the game.

HONORABLE MENTION: Torey Krug scored the game-tying goal for the Bruins in the closing minutes of the third period and deserves the credit for stepping up offensively when the team needed a big play.

Krug finished with the goal along with a team-high seven shots on net and nine shot attempts in 21:28 of ice time. Krug also threw a hit and had a couple of takeaways while generating secondary offense for the Bruins, given that both Brad Marchand and David Pastrnak have slowed down a little bit in recent days.

It’s going to be interesting to see where Krug is at offensively by the end of the season based on a pretty decent start compared to the very, very slow ones he’s had in recent seasons while coming back from injuries.

BY THE NUMBERS: 12-0-5 – the Bruins continue to have gone without a regulation loss on the home ice at TD Garden after dropping another overtime decision, this time to the Blackhawks after crawling back from a 3-0 hole in the third period.

QUOTE TO NOTE: “Complacency? I would say no. Lack of urgency some nights? I would say yes. We’re not pushing as hard as we need to to get to our level. Is that because of where we are [in the Atlantic Division standings], is that because of last year, is that because we feel like we’re a good enough team that we can flip a switch? Probably bits and pieces of all those things, I’m not going to deny it. Our job is to make sure we don’t get complacent. I don’t think we have been, to be honest with you. I think it would show in our record if we were.” –Bruce Cassidy, when asked if he needs to guard against complacency setting in with the Bruins based on their huge lead in the Atlantic Division.

HAGGERTY: Bruins should use a Hall pass on Devils star>>>

Click here to download the new MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the Celtics easily on your device.

NHL Highlights: Torey Krug ties it to finish comeback but Bruins fall in OT

NHL Highlights: Torey Krug ties it to finish comeback but Bruins fall in OT

FINAL SCORE: Blackhawks 4, Bruins 3

IN BRIEF: The Bruins mounted a furious three-goal comeback in the third period to take the Blackhawks to overtime. Torey Krug notched the game-tying goal shortly after Chris Wagner cut the Blackhawks lead to one. The Blackhawks would win shortly into overtime, but the Bruins salvaged a point from the game and ensured their home point streak would stay alive.

BOX SCORE

BRUINS RECORD: 20-3-6 (46 points)

HIGHLIGHTS

RYAN CARPENTER STRIKES FIRST SHORTHANDED

DYLAN STROME MAKE IT 2-0 ON A CHICAGO POWER-PLAY

ALEX DEBRINCAT EXTENDS THE LEAD TO THREE

JOAKIM NORDSTROM TIPS HOME BRUINS FIRST GOAL

CHRIS WAGNER CUTS THE LEAD IN HALF

TOREY KRUG WITH THE IMPROBABLE GAME-TYING GOAL

JONATHAN TOEWS ENDS IT IN OVERTIME

UP NEXT:
Vs. Colorado Avalanche, Saturday, 7 p.m., NESN

Click here to download the new MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the Celtics easily on your device.