After allowing an early goal to the Florida Panthers, the Bruins dominated the action for most of the remaining time en route to a 5-1 win at TD Garden on Saturday. The B’s took back first place in the Atlantic Division and clinched home-ice advantage in the first round of the playoffs in the process.
Tuukka Rask stopped 30 of 31 shots in the win, holding up the back end well as the Bruins took care of business up front. Rask is up to 34-11-5 on the season.
The Panthers got on the board early when Jamie McGinn shoveled a rebound past Tuukka Rask just 4:59 into the game.
But the Bruins answered under seven minutes later when David Krejci gathered the puck and made an insane spin-move pass that found the stick of defenseman Nick Holden, who tipped it in for his first goal as a Bruin.
And that’s when the Bruins’ impressive rookies went to work. First, Ryan Donato scooped the puck behind the net and fed the returning Jake DeBrusk in front, who buried it for his 15th goal of the season:
And later, just 1:32 into the second period, Donato took a chip-pass from Krejci and darted for the slot. That’s where he ripped a rocket of a wrist shot past Panthers goalie James Reimer for his fourth goal in his seventh NHL game to put the B’s up 3-1.
Donato is up to seven points (4 goals, 3 assists) in as many games to start his NHL career.
Patrice Bergeron put the B’s up 4-1 when he scored his 29th goal of the season on a power play when he smacked a loose puck past Reimer. Pastrnak assisted on the goal, the 200th point of his young career.
DeBrusk later scored his second of the game from the same spot as his first to make it 5-1.
There was even some fighting on Saturday, starting just seconds after Donato’s score. Following up the fisticuffs from Tuukka Rask and David Pastrnak in Thursday’s win over the Tampa Bay Lightning, Adam McQuaid got in a one-sided tussle with the Panthers’ Michael Haley – who leads the NHL by far with 22 fighting majors, including this one. But McQuaid dispatched of Haley with ease with a flurry of rights:
Adam McQuaid goes to work on Micheal Haley’s face pic.twitter.com/LrlW5bPEbt— Pete Blackburn (@PeteBlackburn) March 31, 2018
And later in the second period, a full-on melee broke out. Marchand was at the center of it, first scrapping with Jonathan Huberdeau after taking exception to a high hit, then dropping the intervening Vincent Trocheck. Noel Acciari tacked on another fight in the third period against MacKenzie Weegar.
Here’s the hit and Trocheck coming in. Do better refs. pic.twitter.com/DK0hU3KIQ9— Colin Beswick (@CBeswick) March 31, 2018
McAvoy Gets Some Hardware
Before the game, Charlie McAvoy was presented with the Bruins’ “Seventh Player Award”, given to the player voted to have best exceeded expectations.
The B’s had plenty of candidates for that one in their surprisingly superb season. But this year it goes to the dynamic 20-year-old, who has averaged the second-most ice time on the team (22:07) and frequently flashed the high-end talent that made him a first-round pick in 2016.
Injury Bug Bites Again
Just as the Bruins were starting to get healthier, it appears that they’ll have to deal with another round of injuries. Riley Nash took an unfortunate puck off the side of the head from a shot by Torey Krug, and had to miss the rest of the game.
And in the third period, Brandon Carlo fell awkwardly to the ice and appeared to suffer a serious leg/ankle injury. He had to be stretchered off.
Head coach Bruce Cassidy told reporters after the game that Nash had to receive stitches in the side of his head, but had no update on Carlo.
Up Next: The Bruins (49-17-11) have a quick turnaround to Sunday, when they will take the ice for a second straight matinee game against the Flyers. Philly will be coming off three days rest, having beaten the Colorado Avalanche 2-1 on Wednesday.
But betting against the Bruins is a dangerous proposition these days; expect another playoff-like atmosphere in Philadelphia.
— By Matt Dolloff, 985TheSportsHub.com
Matt Dolloff is a digital producer for 985TheSportsHub.com. Any opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of 98.5 The Sports Hub, Beasley Media Group, or any subsidiaries. Have a news tip, question, or comment for Matt? Follow him on Twitter @mattdolloff or email him at email@example.com.