There’s never been a bad time to end a losing streak. But for the Bruins, stopping the bleeding at two straight defeats meant a whole lot on Saturday.
Hanging tough against the NHL-best Panthers for the second time in four nights, the Bruins were delivered a potential back-breaking blow when Aleksander Barkov scored just six seconds into Florida’s only man advantage of the evening.
The goal, which gave the Panthers their first lead of the night with 12:11 left in the third period, could’ve been enough to break the Bruins considering the way things have gone for ’em this week.
But Charlie McAvoy delivered the boom on the Panthers’ Eetu Luostarinen and smacked home the game-tying power-play marker through Spencer Knight two and a half minutes later, and Charlie Coyle played shootout hero while a smiling Linus Ullmark got to channel his inner Ice Cube after the comeback.
“Today was a good day,” Ullmark said following his 33-save win. “I thought we played a real solid 65-minute game of hockey. Came down to a shootout and [we] came out victorious. It’s a good Saturday in Boston.”
For more than just the two points the B’s banked away.
McAvoy staying with this game and really powering this comeback is something we really can’t let go unnoticed. This was not a great game for Boston’s franchise defenseman for a solid 50 minutes. He blew a tire through the neutral zone to deny himself what could’ve been a strong offensive opportunity, and he opted to go for a pass on a second-period two-on-one that went nowhere (that was the third shot-less two-on-one for the Bruins in as many games), and just didn’t seem to have his normal feel of the puck and blades beneath his feet. That, given his importance to the team, was not ideal.
But both McAvoy and the Bruins kept coming.
That, on their third-in-four against two of the league’s elite, took something.
“I really relied a lot on the guys tonight, especially on the backend,” McAvoy admitted. “We have this saying, ‘Each guy has a gas tank, give each other some gas and fill each other’s gas tank.’ I was trying to make plays, but when it’s not going your way sometimes, you can get down. Especially [when] I hold myself to a high standard, but the guys really gave me some gas tank, and in the third I just wanted to be steady and strong. And that was something that presented itself.”
“I thought we kept pushing,” Bruins head coach Bruce Cassidy acknowledged. “It tells me that the guys in there were trying, within their abilities, to win. Their compete level stayed up and they stayed with the program and relied on one another. That’s what it told me about this group, and I think this group does have that.
“I thought there was a lot of compete this week, we just didn’t get it done in the win column.
“That’s sometimes the way it has to go for a while. Sometimes it happens early in the year [where you] just explode offensively, sometimes it’s a work in progress but eventually it comes. I think we have enough talent in there that it’ll come.”
The talent came through when they needed it most, too, as Brad Marchand sent a sweet pass to McAvoy lurking on the backdoor, and No. 73 did not miss. He had no idea what he was doing down there (his words, not mine), but it was the result that the power play had longed for, and undoubtedly needed after a week of up-a-man misfires.
“It’s a crunch-time goal, and that’s what you look for out of your power play,” Cassidy said. “We stuck with it, and eventually got rewarded. Our power play has been a weapon, not so much this year. But maybe that will give it some juice.”
Gas, juice, whatever you wanna call it.
The Bruins used it to melt the ‘snowball’ of a two-game losing streak.
Now comes using it to fuel a streak of their own.
Here are some other thoughts and notes from a 3-2 shootout final in Boston…
Ty Anderson is a writer and columnist for 985TheSportsHub.com. Any opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of 98.5 The Sports Hub, Beasley Media Group, or any subsidiaries. Yell at him on Twitter: @_TyAnderson.