BOSTON – With a pair of losses to the NHL’s worst team this season and less than two months remaining in the regular season, it was ultra-important for the Bruins to finally take care of business this weekend with a third chance against the Red Wings.
They did just that in fine all-around fashion with a 4-1 victory Saturday afternoon at TD Garden, where they got contributions throughout the lineup and truly dominated Detroit while outshooting them by a 41-26 margin in the victory. This time around the Bruins were a little more well-rested than they were in last Sunday’s loss to the Red Wings in Detroit, and they were able to execute better in the key situations throughout the game.
The B’s actually handed the Wings a one-goal lead after a first period they otherwise utterly dominated, and then stormed back with three goals in the second period as Charlie McAvoy, Patrice Bergeron and Charlie Coyle notched the scoreboard for the Black and Gold. They got David Pastrnak’s NHL-leading 42nd goal of the season in the third period as well, and that was more than enough to beat the woeful Red Wings and keep pace with a Tampa Bay Lightning team that won their 10th game in a row on Saturday night.
If the opposite had happened and the Bruins had finally succumbed to the Bolts in the Atlantic Division due to another loss to the lowly Red Wings, there would have been hell to pay. Thankfully for them that didn’t happen at all and the B’s still barely hold down first place ahead of the hard-charging Lightning.
“We wanted to make sure we got a win today. We had a couple of losses to them this year [and] we wanted to make sure we took care of business in the right manner. I think everyone was involved today so it was a good hockey game in that regard. We didn’t steal anything,” said Cassidy. “That’s a good way to hit the road, feeling good about your game. I think it’s just an extension of what we’ve been doing the last two, three weeks, ten games let’s say.
“Again, different guys [were] contributing — our top guys, they do their thing. But I thought everyone sort of pulled on the rope [against Detroit]. I thought [Charlie] Coyle’s line did a good job of establishing O-zone possession time and had a big influence on the momentum shifts for us.”
Earlier in the season, it appeared that games against bottom feeder teams like Detroit were traps of the highest order for the Bruins. At times their focus waned and it was clear they didn’t generate as much energy against lowly teams like Detroit, New Jersey, Chicago and Los Angeles, and that led to wasted opportunities for points against much lesser opponents during their stretch drive.
Now the Bruins have won eight of their last nine games and continue to play with great focus, energy and effort while rounding their game into form for a stretch run that’s going to be challenging for everybody over the final 23 games.