CHICAGO — The Boston Bruins faced two tough tasks in their matchup between the Original Six and the Blackhawks on Tuesday night at the United Center. But again, they shone in their moments of perseverance.
Marc-Andre Fleury auditioned his skills with other potential suitors ahead of Monday’s trade deadline. He presented one of the best goaltending clinics of the NHL season.
The Bruins threw everything but the proverbial kitchen sink at the Blackhawks goaltender. But they didn’t deviate from the game plan, increasing the pressure in net past Fleury’s crease, and eventually got a fat goal on Patrice Bergeron’s 17th of the season for the 1-0 lead.
However, they found themselves at square one on Brandon Hagel’s equalizer just 4:52 after Bergeron’s marker. Then they had to regroup after an overwhelming review of goalkeeper interference deprived Charlie Coyle of the go-ahead scorer.
Their resilience paid off in overtime: Matt Grzelcyk buried a wrist shot past Fleury on a pass from Taylor Hall in the 3-on-3 extra session.
“We finally managed to score the goal in overtime to win 3-1,” head coach Bruce Cassidy said after Boston’s 2-1 win. “I watched [the replay] 10 times, and I still don’t see where the goalie interference is.
Whether it’s a 2-1 or even 3-1 result; the Bruins came away with two deserving points after outscoring the Blackhawks 48-20. Here’s what we learned when Cassidy’s team improved to 10-1-1 in their last 12 games.
Bruins overcome Fleury and Coyle robbery
The Bruins preach about living in the moment. Sometimes, however, the theory becomes difficult to realize.
Tuesday’s result provided a prime example of establishing a short-term mindset. The Bruins saw Fleury stand on his head on his 46-save outing. Then they had to overcome the officials’ overwhelming decision to keep Coyle’s disallowed goal intact, starting with the ensuing penalty after Cassidy’s challenge failed.
It didn’t matter. Cassidy remained confident his team would pull through after his decision to challenge Coyle’s goal. The resilient Bruins remained confident they would get one more goal past Fleury.
“Some teams might panic a bit expecting to have a goal with five minutes left,” Grzelcyk said after netting his third goal of the season. “The coaching staff had a good message: ‘Let’s leave this behind and move on’. I think we had two good first periods. It can be very frustrating when you’re making about 40 shots and the puck doesn’t go in. But we are doing very well at the moment. Just stick with it and good things will happen.
Indeed, the good times have arrived for the Bruins. And one player, in particular, landed a pair of assists after escaping a near-nightmare scenario.
Hall delivers in OT after almost scary moment
The Bruins knew they would need a bold goal to finally beat Fleury. They got it third on Bergeron’s mid-air marker shortly after Boston’s fourth and final power-play attempt expired. The streak nearly ended in disaster for Hall after taking a skate blade to Stillman’s face on the doorstep.
Amid the discomfort, Hall joined Bergeron and the rest of the power play unit in celebrating. But he’s seen his share of cuts, bumps and bruises, in his first season serving in a power play role in net.
With a shiny new mark on his face, the Bruins again called Hall in 3-on-3 overtime with Grzelcyk at fullback and fellow second-row wing David Pastrnak establishing extended possession of the puck. The trio each touched the puck, Pastrnak feeding Hall with an out feed and Grzelcyk capping the OT clincher after beating Fleury with a trick wrist shot.
“He plays hard for us,” Cassidy said of Hall. “He was in net on that power play, and he played a good role in it. Our power play was statistically one of the best in the league, and he became one of five guys who was a regular and did his job. It’s kind of dirty work. Thank God it wasn’t more serious, because when it’s a skate, you never know. But he was good in overtime, especially with Pasta…they play well together and they make plays.
Foligno crosses the milestone of 1,000 games
It took a little while for Nick Foligno to settle into a role in his first season with the Bruins. Amid a statistically tough season, however, the longtime Blue Jackets captain fit right in with Boston culture from the first day he stepped foot in the B locker room.
Foligno struggled with injuries and inconsistencies for part of the year, but had a turbulent few weeks on Boston’s recent road trips. The Columbus faithful welcomed Foligno with open arms when he returned on March 6. Nine days later, the veteran winger joined his father Mike, a 15-year NHL veteran, in the 1,000 game club.
“I’m not really one to think about myself too often, so…” Foligno said after Boston’s morning practice. “First of all, I’m really enjoying being with this band, and I’m really happy that it’s coming with this band. I care about these guys a lot from the short time I’ve been with them. Nothing that looking around me, it was nice to be together that way.
Foligno received a friendly ovation from the United Center crowd after officially starting his 1,000th game in the first television timeout. He ended his night with a shot on net and 8:32 on the ice.
The bumpy road trip continues for Foligno with Wednesday’s game at Minnesota against his younger brother, Marcus.
The Bruins announced they will honor Foligno’s 1,000th game with a pregame ceremony on April 2 before their matchup with the Blue Jackets at TD Garden.
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