The Boston Bruins finally returned to game action Saturday night after a five-day break, and they showed no rust in a 5-2 road win over the Philadelphia Flyers.
Eleven different players tallied a point in what was a full team effort from the B's.
The victory gives the Bruins a 9-5-0 record (18 points) and the fourth-best points percentage in the Atlantic Division.
Next up for Boston is a Sunday night matchup at TD Garden against the Calgary Flames, who are 10-3-5 with the league's second-best goal differential at plus-23.
Here are three takeaways from Bruins-Flyers.
1) Bruins are kicking into higher gear
The Patriots aren't the only local team racking up wins. The Bruins are starting to find their groove, and after beating the Flyers, the B's have now won six of their last eight games (including three wins in a row). They've outscored opponents 31-20 over that span.
One player who's stepped up during this stretch is David Pastrnak. After a bit of a slow start to the season, the superstar right winger currently has a six-game point streak that includes three goals, seven assists and 32 shots. He scored Boston's fifth goal against the Flyers:
The overall team defense has improved as well. The B's have allowed two or fewer goals in six of their last eight games. Rookie netminder Jeremy Swayman has gone 4-0-0 during that stretch with a .930 save percentage. Linus Ullmark, who started against the Flyers, made several key stops in the second and third periods to earn his first win since Oct. 30.
The challenge for the Bruins is keeping this momentum going, and that won't be easy given the strength of their upcoming schedule.
Seven of Boston's next 11 opponents currently sit in a playoff spot. This stretch includes games against Pacific Division heavyweights such as the Edmonton Oilers, Calgary Flames (twice) and Vegas Golden Knights, in addition to a showdown with the two-time defending champion Tampa Bay Lightning.
The Bruins also play these 11 games over 20 days -- a much more compressed schedule than the 14 games they played over the season's first 36 days.
2) Goals coming from... Derek Forbort?
Bruins defenseman Derek Forbort has struggled defensively at times this season, but he's made up for it by providing more offense than anyone could have expected from him.
Forbort played 331 career NHL games before coming to Boston as a free agent over the summer. He scored eight goals in those games. Forbort now has four goals in just 14 games with the Bruins after finding the back of the net twice against the Flyers.
His second goal gave the Bruins a 3-2 lead in the second period.
Forbort's four goals are a new career high for him in a single season.
Any offense the Bruins get from the blue line is a welcomed sight given the team's scoring depth issues. Forbort has scored as many goals as Craig Smith, Jack Studnicka, Nick Foligno, Trent Frederic, Erik Haula and Tomas Nosek combined. If I told you that would be the case through 14 games, you would've justifiably laughed in my face.
Forbort's scoring is a nice surprise for the Bruins, but expecting it to continue anywhere near this pace would be foolish.
3) Craig Smith finally breaks through
The 2021-22 season has been a real struggle for Smith, who has battled an upper body injury that kept him out of the Bruins' two previous games. He returned to the lineup against the Flyers, and his effort and determination were rewarded with a multi-point performance that included his first goal of the season.
His tally in the third period gave the B's a 4-2 advantage:
Smith's lack of scoring production was one of the biggest surprises and disappointments of the Bruins' early-season results. He scored zero goals with only 18 shots in his first eight games. Even at less-than-full-health, you'd expect a little more offense from a player of his caliber who's scored 20-plus goals five times.
A rejuvenated Smith would be a huge boost to a Bruins team desperate for secondary scoring.