There’s no doubt that the Bruins have been feeling it lately.
Winners of four straight entering a Saturday matinee with the West-best Predators, the Bruins elevated themselves to officially hot around 4 p.m. with a shot off the stick of Taylor Hall and through Juuse Saros for a 4-3 overtime win at TD Garden.
Taylor Hall wins it in overtime.— Conor Ryan (@ConorRyan_93) January 15, 2022
What a game. pic.twitter.com/maIty0GS6q
The Hall overtime winner was the finale to what was an absolutely smashmouth game between the sides, as they combined for 91 hits (46 from Nashville, and 45 for the Bruins) and traded blows on the ice and scoreboard for over 60 minutes.
“We tried to finish the checks that were there,” Bruins head coach Bruce Cassidy said. “Probably one of the higher [hit] numbers. All in all, I’d describe it as a playoff style game, and we responded well.”
“When the playoffs start, you need to be able to have that game in your bag, so that was a fun game,” said Hall.
In what’s become a trend for the Bruins throughout this heater, the Bruins jumped out to a quick 2-0 lead behind sweet-looking finishes from Craig Smith and Mike Reilly. Both goals featured some excellent transition play and puck movement, and the Reilly goal was especially pretty, with both Reilly and Erik Haula displaying some excellent poise on the sequence.
But the strong start came with a stronger response from Nashville, and the sides found themselves tied early in the second period when the Preds rallied with a first-period marker from Colton Sissions and a second-period equalizer from Luke Kunin.
That continued on in the third period, too.
Back on top with a Brad Marchand go-ahead goal scored on the man advantage — complete with Marchand telling the Nashville bench to be quiet (in not so many words) on his skate back to the B’s bench — the Bruins and Preds found themselves back even just 2:36 later behind Roman Josi’s 13th goal of the season.
And before Hall could play hero, the Bruins were forced to kill off one final penalty, with defenseman Urho Vaakanainen whistled for tripping Matt Duchene on a defensive-zone clear that went awry.
But much like they did against Philly on Thursday night, the B’s shorthanded unit came through in the clutch and kept the opposition’s power play off the board late. No easy feat given Nashville’s 27.0 percent success rate on the man advantage (fourth-best in the NHL entering Saturday’s jam-packed slate).
Overtime also came with some redemption for Vaakanainen, too, as he denied a feed from Predators forward Tanner Jeannot to eliminate a potential two-on-one and instead sparked the attack that led to Hall’s game-winning goal.
Elsewhere on defense, Derek Forbort returned to the Boston lineup after missing the previous three games on the COVID list. The 6-foot-4 Forbort finished with a fighting major, one hit, and one blocked shot in 16:59 of time on ice.
In net, Linus Ullmark finished with 26 saves for his 13th win of the season. It was Ullmark’s sixth straight victory, and his 10th win in his last 12 decisions dating back to Nov. 20.
After playing three games in four days — and six games in the last 10 days — the Bruins will get a slight breather and return to action Tuesday night at home against the Hurricanes.