By Ty Anderson, 985TheSportsHub.com
After testing their point streak's luck with an overtime thriller of a victory against the Hurricanes on Tuesday, the Bruins upped the ante in their Thursday night meeting with the Panthers.
And though it was dicey (and then some), the Black and Gold ultimately needed just 30 seconds of absolute madness to extend their point streak to 18 games, defeating Roberto Luongo and Co. with a 4-3 final at TD Garden.
"The guys want to win every night," Bruins head coach Bruce Cassidy said after the victory, sparked by last-minute goals from Matt Grzelcyk and then Patrice Bergeron. "They don’t want to say hey we’ve had a real good run let’s…it’s not our night, let’s get on to the next one. I think that’s a good, positive sign for us that we’ve got a bunch of gamers in there."
The gamers showed up as it was Grzelcyk that first bombed a shot through Luongo with 36.5 seconds left in the period -- and just one second left on Boston's man advantage -- and on a shot Cassidy straight-up didn't know Grzelcyk had in his arsenal.
"I mean, I watch the D shoot the puck at the end of practice, and I didn’t think he could raise it," Cassidy joked. "I’ve been watching him for two years and bang! It’s bar down."
— Boston Bruins (@NHLBruins) March 8, 2019
Not settling for overtime, though, it was Bergeron's turn some late-game magic, as No. 37 came through and absolutely rocketed a shot through Luongo with just seven seconds left in regulation.
"We have the leadership, we have the culture," Charlie McAvoy said of Boston scoring late-game goals. "Our older guys make sure that we’re always on our toes, make sure that we’re always kind of goal-oriented no matter what the score is, no matter how much time is left, so I mean, we just follow their lead. A guy like Bergy — what a game for him and Marchy, and we just follow those guys, you know, and the results kind of take care of themselves."
The frantic final segment of this game more than made up for a first period with the energy akin to your first time hitting the snooze button on a Monday morning, as the Bruins and Panthers failed to generate quality looks on either net.
And it wasn't until a power-play deflection from the Panthers' Aleksander Barkov at the 2:48 mark of the second period that somebody finally broke through to end the stalemate.
Florida added their second goal just 3:39 later as Jonathan Huberdeau batted a puck out of the air and through Tuukka Rask.
Struggling to even hit the net with their shots, having just one shot on goal through the first 10 minutes of the second period, the Bruins were a dead team walking, and Cassidy knew it.
Throwing his lines into a blender -- moving Charlie Coyle to the right of Patrice Bergeron and Brad Marchand, and forming a new-look third-line with David Backes between Danton Heinen and Sean Kuraly -- Cassidy's squad finally got on the board (and on their second shot of the frame) when Heinen regained possession and fed David Krejci for a back-and-forth two-on-one sequence that ended with Krejci's 17th goal of the season, scored 10:29 into the period.
— Boston Bruins (@NHLBruins) March 8, 2019
The Bruins nearly got another one before the period's conclusion, too, as Chris Wagner came through with a beautiful deke through traffic but could not get the shot on goal through Florida's Roberto Luongo.
All things considered, it wasn't the worst way for a five-shot period to play out for the B's.
And it gave them the chance at a comeback -- or a tie game at the very least -- which came with a Patrice Bergeron shorthanded goal scored on Boston's fifth trip to the penalty kill, scored 8:50 into the third period for No. 37's third shortie of the season.
The Panthers quickly answered, though, as Huberdeau came through with a disgusting spin-and-shoot through Zdeno Chara and then through Rask, good enough for Florida to regain their one-goal edge just 2:05 after losing it.
But as we know, this Bruins team is incapable of quitting on a game, and truly maximized their final minute.
Enough to extend their streak to a staggering 18 games behind a 14-0-4 record.
White-hot winger Jake DeBrusk was scratched from this game due to a lower-body injury. That forced the Bruins to bring Karson Kuhlman up from Providence on an emergency recall, and Kuhlman skated with Krejci and Peter Cehlarik throughout the night. Forward Sean Kuraly also made his return to action after missing two games due to a concussion.
The Bruins conclude this six-game homestand on Saturday night against the NHL-worst Senators.