By Ty Anderson, 985TheSportsHub.com
With the Boston Bruins slumping their way through a goal drought that crossed the 100-minute mark during the second period of Tuesday’s game in Carolina, it was the Black and Gold’s familiar faces that picked them up, as David Pastrnak and Brad Marchand combined for three goals while Patrice Bergeron provided stellar two-way play in a 3-2 final over the Hurricanes.
Aided by the return of Torey Krug (absent from the first 11 games of the season due to an ankle injury), it was Pastrnak that got the Bruins on the board at the 12:22 mark of the middle period by way of a power-play strike that snuck through Scott Darling. The goal took what felt like an eternity of work from the Black and Gold, and came after a would-be goal was blown dead by way of a quick whistle when it went off the official (and off a Carolina defender) and by Darling, which should not have happened.
But when Dougie Hamilton scored a power-play to put the Hurricanes back on top just 6:11 later, it seemed as if the Bruins’ struggles in the offensive zone were only going to get worse in a period that shot them outshot 24-14.
The period was salvaged by the Bergeron-Marchand duo, though, as Bergeron fed Marchand on a beautiful feed that allowed No. 63 to snipe one through Darling on the man advantage and tie things up with just 18 seconds left in the middle frame.
They were not done.
With a loose puck there for the taking, the 5-foot-9 Marchand simply outworked Hurricanes captain Justin Williams for a loose puck and barreled towards the Carolina net. But rather than driving towards the towering Darling, Marchand instead took the puck behind the net, and managed to sneak a signature wraparound strike into the Hurricane net for Boston’s first lead.
As always, of course, the Bruins’ offensive punches came back to a simple formula: Pastrnak, Marchand, Marchand.
What made their contributions all the more important, though, was that they came with Pastrnak moved off that first line featuring Marchand and Bergeron. Instead, the first line right wing duties were left to Joakim Nordstrom, then Jake DeBrusk, then Nordstrom again. Pastrnak, meanwhile, got comfortable to David Krejci’s right (and opposite Danton Heinen).
By the night’s end, Pastrnak led all Boston forwards in both shots (nine) and time on ice (22:08), Marchand had two goals, and Bergeron finished with three helpers (and about a dozen helpers of the uncredited variety with his absurd d-zone play).
But holding a lead with 14:37 left in the third period, the Bruins leaned on Jaroslav Halak, and the 33-year-old delivered.
In what finished as a season-high 42-save performance, Halak repeatedly stonewalled the Hurricanes despite countless breakdowns in front of his net (especially when the Bruins were on the power play), and came up with a combined 11 saves on as many shots from the Carolina second line with Jordan Staal between Warren Foegele and Williams.
Krug finished his season debut with one assist and two takeaways in 18:13 of time on ice.
The Bruins will make their way to Nashville for a Saturday night meeting with P.K. Subban and the Predators.
Ty Anderson is a writer and columnist for 985TheSportsHub.com. He has also been a voting member of the Boston Chapter of the Professional Hockey Writers’ Association since 2013. 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 Ty? Follow him on Twitter @_TyAnderson.