By Ty Anderson, 985TheSportsHub.com
First the Boston Bruins shook off the cobwebs of a nine-day layoff. Then they shook off the gloves in a chippy, 2-1 win over the Winnipeg Jets at Bell MTS Place on Friday night.
Down in an 0-1 hole behind Patrik Laine’s game-opening strike at the 6:06 mark of the first period, the Bruins finally found their response on Mark Scheifele’s attempt to carry the puck deep into the Boston zone without interruption.
But he found it, and it planted him on his behind, in the form of Bruins defenseman Charlie McAvoy.
McAvoy’s hit on Scheifele bothered Jets defenseman Neal Pionk — so much so that he chased McAvoy down for matching roughings and an additional penalty for Pionk — and sent the Bruins to their first power-play chance of the evening.
Patrice Bergeron made it count, too, as he converted on what became a 5-on-3 with his 22nd goal of the season.
But the McAvoy hit also set off a chain reaction that led to a second period that included 64 total minutes in penalties.
Bruins winger Brad Marchand went at it with Nikolaj Ehlers after Ehlers finished a hit on Marchand from behind (he legitimately flexed on Ehlers after their momentary scrap), B’s defenseman Brandon Carlo came to Charlie Coyle’s defense after Gabriel Bourque tagged Coyle in the attacking zone and tried skating away, and then Karson Kuhlman had to answer to Jets defenseman Luca Sbisa following what was a completely clean hit on Winnipeg’s Mathieu Perreault.
Nobody seemed to back down from the challenge (on either side), even if every scrap seemed to come as a result of a clean hit, and a 20-minute game was upon the sudden rivals.
And it was Jake DeBrusk who provided the Bruins with the game-winning tally, as DeBrusk received a great pass from David Pastrnak and finished off a loose puck through Winnipeg netminder Laurent Brossoit for a 2-1 lead.
While the power play accounted for both of the B’s goals, the story in this game came down to the Boston penalty kill, which killed off all six opportunities drawn by the Jets, and the strong play of Tuukka Rask in his first game since Jan. 14.
Coming through with saves on all but one of the 38 shots thrown his way, the 32-year-old Rask denied the Jets on their few second-chance opportunities, and came through with a whopping 12 saves with the B’s down a man. Rask truly seemed to get better as the game went on, too, with an improved rebound control and ability to calm down some chaotic sequences late.
Joakim Nordstrom returned to the Boston lineup after sitting out Jan. 21’s win over the Golden Knights as a healthy scratch, while John Moore remained the Black and Gold’s scratch on the backend in favor of Jeremy Lauzon. The 22-year-old Lauzon had perhaps his best game to date, too, and had a lead-preserving defensive stop early in the third period of the win.
The B’s will now trek down to Minnesota for a Saturday night meeting with the Wild.