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McAvoy's injury puts damper on Bruins' overtime win vs Canadiens

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McAvoy's injury puts damper on Bruins' overtime win vs Canadiens

GOLD STAR: Jake DeBrusk had an up-and-down game where he amassed a reasonably solid shot on net (five) total, but also found himself on the bench for parts of the third period as Bruce Cassidy was shortening things up down a goal. But it was DeBrusk that stepped up and made a play in the third period redirecting a Nick Holden point pass past Antti Niemi for the game-tying strike with less than three minutes to go in the game. DeBrusk has scored some important, timely goals for the Bruins this season, and this was another one of them at a moment where the Bruins needed a finishing play from somebody. In total DeBrusk finished with a goal, five shots on net, a hit and a takeaway in 16:36 of ice time while once again showing his willingness to go to the net for offense. 

BLACK EYE: It’s a literal black eye for Charlie McAvoy, who was out of the game and injured (lower body) just 37 seconds into the game. It was unclear whether McAvoy injured one of his feet on some stick-work from Brendan Gallagher, or perhaps did something else during an awkward tumble into the boards seconds earlier. Either way McAvoy was done very early with quick word that he wouldn’t be returning to the game, which normally isn’t a good sign as to the seriousness of the injury. The hope has to be that it’s something that won’t keep the 20-year-old out for a significant amount of time just as he was rounding back into form after his heart procedure more than a month ago. If it’s a serious injury, that would put a major damper on Boston’s plans for a long playoff run. 

TURNING POINT: The Bruins had gone 0-for-5 on the power play all evening and must have been fairly frustrated with the zero on the scoreboard late into the third period. But a delay of game penalty from Jonathan Drouin opened the door for the Bruins PP to get one more chance, and things began to go their way even more when a Habs PK member lost their stick. So the Bruins were finally able to get their special teams’ goal with 2:45 to go in the game, and it was really all Bruins after that with scoring chances and heavy pressure before they pulled things out in overtime. It all came down to finally executing on that last power play chance, and the Bruins did exactly that.

HONORABLE MENTION: Anton Khudobin was brilliant for the Bruins after getting the call in place of Tuukka Rask, even if he made 27 saves to the 48 saves made by his counterpart Antti Niemi at the other end of the ice. But Khudobin had some real quality chances that he had to stop with the Bruins down by a goal pretty much the entire game, and he never made a mistake with all that pressure on his shoulders. Instead he stuffed Logan Show on a 2-on-1 odd-man rush in the second period when he made a sprawling, gymnastics like save on the backhanded shot. Later in the second he flashed a big glove on a scorched Alex Galchenyuk blast from the right face-off circle on a Montreal power play. Khudobin needed to be on to match what Niemi was doing at the other end of the ice, and he absolutely was that for the Bruins on Saturday night to push his record this season to a sterling 14-4-4 this season. 

BY THE NUMBERS: 11 – the number of shot attempts for Nick Holden in his 21:52 of ice time for the Bruins while setting up the game-tying goal in the third period with a slick shot-pass from the point spot. 

QUOTE TO NOTE: "He does a great job [being strong on the puck]. That OT goal, that’s all-world. To have it that long and then be able to finish, [that’s a] hell of a play." –Bruce Cassidy on Brad Marchand’s strength on the puck on the whole shift leading up to his OT game-winner.

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Highlights from Bruins' 4-3 win over Flyers

Highlights from Bruins' 4-3 win over Flyers

FINAL SCORE: Bruins 4, Flyers 3

In Brief: The Bruins started out quickly, scoring two goals in the first before adding a short-handed goal from Chris Wagner in the second and an early third-period goal to put them up 4-0. Philadelphia made it interesting, though, and scored three goals in the third, including two in less than two minutes, before the Bruins finished strong and got the W. Lee Stempniak led the way with a goal and two assists. 

Bruins Preseason Record: 5-0-1

Highlights:

Shorthanded goal: 

What's Next:

WEDNESDAY: vs. Red Wings, 7 p.m.
SATURDAY: vs. Flyers, 6 p.m. (end of exhibition season)

Faster, stronger Ryan Donato a favorite to win a Bruins' forward spot

Faster, stronger Ryan Donato a favorite to win a Bruins' forward spot

BRIGHTON, Mass – It’s not a lock until the puck drops opening night on Oct. 3, but it certainly looks like Ryan Donato is going to start this season just as he finished last year. That means Donato will be suiting up for the Bruins in a top-9 winger role where his offensive skills and natural hockey instincts can be used as a big asset for the Black and Gold.

Perhaps it shouldn’t be surprising given that Donato finished strong with five goals and nine points in 12 regular season games once he’d signed out of Harvard, and then the 22-year-old found his way into the B’s lineup at the end of the playoffs as well. At this point Donato finds himself with a couple of different options dependent on the way the rest of the lineup shakes out, but as it stands now it looks like he’ll be either right wing on David Krejci’s line, or manning his natural left wing spot in a third line role with a center to be named later and David Backes.

It’s interesting that the Bruins shied away from using Donato on the right side during last year’s playoffs, but he’s certainly being viewed in a different light this fall after getting some NHL experience under his belt.

“Some of it is circumstance, right? We’re looking to fill that spot. Danton Heinen has looked really good [on the right side] from what I’ve been told. Those are probably options A and B to play on that right side [with Krejci]. I just think coming in at that time of the year last year, [for Donato] it was ‘get one position down.’ He’s got a little more experience under his belt and with the training he’s put in he’s stronger and faster,” said Bruce Cassidy. “Maybe in tight spaces he’ll be stronger on pucks on that off side. But we’ll see. He’s been fine on both sides.”

Either spot would put him in a good position to create offense, obviously, but the right wing position alongside Krejci and Jake DeBrusk would certainly a little more of a premium spot for a talented, natural goal-scorer.

“One thing about Ryan is that he doesn’t overthink things. He just plays no matter what side of the ice he’s on. His strength is still offense,” said Cassidy. “He’s going to produce there no matter which side he’s on. Donato is a bit of a wild card. He doesn’t have a lot of experience, but we like where he’s at. We think that when he’s ‘on’ he can certainly [play a top-6 role]. He’s proven he can score in a short period of time in this league, and he’s doing it again in the exhibition season.”

To Donato’s credit, he’s not taking anything for granted and has the attitude that he needs to win an NHL roster spot with his work in training camp. So far he’s been very good and it’s clear to everybody that the 22-year-old got bigger, stronger and maybe even a little faster over the summer after diligently putting in the work at the B’s practice facility. It was one of Donato’s goals to get in the best position to win a spot on Boston’s roster out of camp and he’s most definitely done that with just three exhibition games left to go in the preseason.

“I trained hard this summer. I think they know my abilities and they know that I trained really hard this summer before coming in to compete for a job,” said Donato. “I’d be cutting myself short if I didn’t believe in my abilities to be a contender for any position on this team. So I want to work hard and hopefully I get to earn a spot.”

With a spot seemingly wrapped up for Donato, the question now becomes whether or not he can produce enough to cement his spot in the top-6, or play a good enough two-way game to be a third liner. If he can score goals and help make the second line a viable offensive force that would take care of one need that this Bruins team clearly had during their second round postseason series against the Tampa Bay Lightning.

Regular season games are the only proving ground to see whether Donato is a 20-30 goal-scorer or a guy like that Frank Vatrano that teased with flashes without ever actually truly developing at the NHL level. This humble hockey writer is betting more on the former than the latter for Teddy’s oldest boy, but time will tell on all of this for another Donato in Boston.   

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