Boston Bruins

Mar 26, 2023; Raleigh, North Carolina, USA; Boston Bruins right wing David Pastrnak (88) celebrates his goal against the Carolina Hurricanes during the first period at PNC Arena. Mandatory Credit: James Guillory-USA TODAY Sports

The Bruins did their heavy lifting Saturday with a statement victory over the Lightning.

That win proved that the Bruins can hang with the back-to-back-to-back Eastern Conference champions on the scoreboard and in the bruising category, and it was enough to officially clinch the Atlantic Division for the Bruins.

But Sunday’s road head-to-head with the Hurricanes, though a borderline meaningless game (especially given the circumstances of that game), felt like it was more than that. The Bruins traveled down to Raleigh with the expectation that they were going to treat it like it meant something with a full NHL lineup. It just felt like the Bruins needed to get a win in that building (their last one entering Sunday came back in the 2019 Eastern Conference Finals) before the playoffs to feel confident should the sides meet in the playoffs.

And while I played armchair coach checkers with that game, Bruins head coach Jim Montgomery played real coach chess. Because imagine how their confidence is doing after doing exactly that, but without Patrice Bergeron, Brad Marchand, and Hampus Lindholm in their lineup?

  • Even without three of their best available, the Bruins turned to best to kick things off in this game, as David Pastrnak scored a leaky five-hole goal on the Canes’ Freddie Andersen to open things up at 1-0.

    It was a milestone marker for Pastrnak, too, as it brought his season total up to 50 goals, making him the first Bruins skater to hit the 50-goal mark in a season since Cam Neely in 1993-94. Overall, Pastrnak is just the sixth 50-goal scorer in the franchise’s nearly century-long history, joining a list featuring Neely, Phil Esposito, Johnny Bucyk, Rick Middleton, and Ken Hodge.

  • Knotted up at 1-1 at the 7:44 mark of the second period behind Jack Drury’s marker through Jeremy Swayman, the Bruins regained the lead just 1:28 later when Pastrnak hammered a one-time shot through Andersen with the Bruins up a man.

    The goal, which was enough to make Hurricanes coach Rod Brind’Amour have an absolute meltdown behind the Carolina bench, to the point where we were all discovering new veins that exist in a human neck and head, was good for the Bruins’ fifth power-play goal in their last six games.

    The Bruins built on that Pastrnak goal with a Jakub Lauko strike just 2:34 later, and the Bruins took a borderline shocking two-goal lead into the second intermission.

  • But the Hurricanes answered quickly in what was a rough third-period start for the Bruins, and flipped this game on its head to the point of a full-on reset for the conference rivals.

    Brady Skjei began the Carolina rally with a top-shelf snipe over Swayman’s left shoulder at 1:37 mark of the third period, while the Hurricanes pinned the Bruins in their own zone and caught Connor Clifton in an unfortunate position in front of the Boston goal en route to a game-tying goal from Sebastian Aho just 127 seconds after the Skjei marker.

    It was more than enough for Montgomery to call a timeout and reset his team, and the Bruins certainly answered as well they could for a team without its top two leaders, with a successful kill at the midway point of the period on the way to a 3-3 tie through 60 minutes.

    And though the Bruins were unable to beat Andersen in what was a five-shot overtime effort from the Black and Gold, Swayman sent this one to a shootout with a pair of saves, including a sensational glove snag with just one tenth of a second remaining in the five-minute session.

    The Bruins rewarded Swayman’s late-second heroics with a shootout that saw back-to-back goals from Charlie Coyle and Jake DeBrusk, and Boston’s first shootout win since Dec. 13.

  • Mar 26, 2023; Raleigh, North Carolina, USA;  Boston Bruins right wing David Pastrnak (88) is congratulated by  center Pavel Zacha (18) after his goal against the Carolina Hurricanes during the second period at PNC Arena. Mandatory Credit: James Guillory/USA TODAY Sports

    Mar 26, 2023; Raleigh, North Carolina, USA; Boston Bruins right wing David Pastrnak (88) is congratulated by center Pavel Zacha (18) after his goal against the Carolina Hurricanes during the second period at PNC Arena. (James Guillory-USA TODAY Sports)

  • With Bergeron and Marchand out, the Bruins recalled forward Oskar Steen from Providence on an emergency recall. Steen, who started on a line with Jake DeBrusk and Pavel Zacha, had a pair of dazzling dishes to high-danger areas, and finished with two shots and a hit in 8:56 of action.

    Forward A.J. Greer also made his return to action after a one-game suspension, and finished with one shot, one blocked shot, and two hits in 9:33 of play.

    The only bad news from this victory came in the third period, really, as Lauko appeared to suffer a lower-body injury in a corner tie-up collision with Carolina defenseman Jalen Chatfield.

    The Bruins will return to Boston for a Tuesday night head-to-head with the Predators.

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