Boston Bruins

Boston Bruins

Perhaps you’re sick of Linus Ullmark and the 2022-23 Bruins making history seemingly every time on they’re on the ice. Maybe the records Ullmark and the juggernaut Bruins are tying or setting are a little too convoluted at this point and you just really want to fast forward to Game 1 of the 2023 Stanley Cup Playoffs.

But if you couldn’t appreciate what Ullmark did for a straight-up gassed Bruins squad Tuesday night in Calgary, you’re either on the Flames or there’s simply no hope for your tortured soul.

In a game that the Bruins had no business making competitive, let alone winning, it was Ullmark who singlehandedly willed the Bruins to two points with a franchise-record 54 saves in a 4-3 overtime win.

  • Spotted a two-goal lead from Dmitry Orlov and thanks to some downright leaky goaltending by ex-Bruin Dan Vladar at the other end (the Flames pulled Vladar after 20 minutes, with two goals on just five shots against), Ullmark was tagged with 19 shots in the opening period of play. He refused to budge, and went a perfect 19-for-19.

    Then came a second period that was all Calgary, and Ullmark was nearly just as good as he was in the first, with 19 saves on 20 shots and his only miss coming just 1:07 into the middle frame.

    “The second [period] was bad,” Bruins coach Jim Montgomery said after the win. “Calgary really outplayed us and if it wasn’t Linus, the game would’ve been out of hand already.”

    Through 40 minutes, Ullmark was already at a season-high 38 saves, while the Bruins were just three shots away from setting a new season-high for shots against in a single contest.

    But Ullmark, knowing his team was playing their third game in four nights and after a spirited contest in Edmonton on Monday night, had no issues playing superhero for his squad.

    “They tried their hardest throughout the game and that’s what I’m gonna do as well,” Ullmark said of helping carry his teammates along. “I’m going to try my best, and that’s all we can ask out of each other. It doesn’t matter if we are tired or if we are firing or two cylinders or three cylinders.

    “You just gotta try to give your best for the day.”

  • But whether it was Kryptonite, The Joker, Thanos, or just the unrelenting barrage of shots from the Flames, it appeared that Ullmark’s odds of saving the Bruins were fading out of frame in a punishing third.

    A Dillon Dube shot at the 8:16 mark of the third period knotted the sides up at 2-2, and a Jonathan Huberdeau pinball around the net poked through Ullmark and gave the Flames their first lead of the night just 1:17 later.

    Imagining the Bruins having enough in the tank to pull off another third-period comeback was straight out of the DC or Marvel universe. But with half a period left, it was the B’s turn to reward their goaltender’s efforts.

  • That opening for someone else to step up came with just under six minutes left to play in the third. And it came as a result of a Flame stepping up at the worst possible moment.

    On the receiving end of a drop-back pass from Hampus Lindholm in the neutral zone and with less than 30 seconds to go in the Boston power play, Jake DeBrusk carried the puck over the Calgary zone for a clean zone entry, where he was immediately met with a crunching hit from the 6-foot-6 Nikita Zadorov.

    DeBrusk took the hit to make the play, while Zadorov took out a teammate in friendly fire in the process, and opened the door to pure time and space for Dmitry Orlov, who held onto the puck long enough to get Chris Tanev to bite before a slick dish under him and to Pavel Zacha for the game-tying power-play strike.

    Orlov’s assist not only helped tie the game, but it also gave the 31-year-old his first three-point night in a Bruins uniform, and just his sixth career effort of at least three points. It also continued to shine a light on the potential playoff-styled gem that the Bruins have acquired from the Capitals ahead of the trade deadline.

    “No, no I didn’t,” Bruins defenseman Charlie McAvoy admitted when asked if he knew that Orlov had this kind of offense. “I know when we played against him, I always thought he was a great player with Washington. He’s a winner, he’s won before. I think when you can bring in someone like that who has the experience and can win, that speaks a lot. But then to see what he’s meant early here, how hard he plays defensive, and then offensively to have a game like he did tonight, we just keep building.

    “I’ll tell you, it’s fun because we feed off each other in here. [When] someone like him is going, it lifts us up. We all wanna get involved and feed off each other.”

    And in overtime, McAvoy got involved.

  • On the ice with Patrice Bergeron and Brad Marchand for a defensive-zone faceoff with under 18 seconds left in the five-minute overtime, Bergeron won the draw back to McAvoy, who immediately banged the puck off the wall and for a charging Marchand. And as Marhand corralled it for a chance on Jacob Markstrom, McAvoy got in there enough to deny the Flames clean possession for an exit, and then activated just to the right of Markstrom for the game-winning marker with just 4.3 seconds left in overtime.

    The game-winning marker came on what was Boston’s third shot of the extra session, and naturally, after another six saves by Ullmark at the other end.

    The winner also came on what was the B’s 20th shot of the evening, which gave them a minus-37 in terms of shot differential in this contest, as Ullmark was hammered for 57 shots at the other end.

    It marked the greatest single-game shot differential in Bruins history since the league started tracking shots on goal, beating the previous worst, which was a minus-36 in a Jan. 3, 1965 loss to the Red Wings, by a single shot.

    And in addition to a franchise-record 54 saves, Ullmark also became just the second Bruins netminder to record at least 50 saves in a single game. Tim Thomas is the only other B’s netminder to accomplish such a feat, and did so with a 51-save performance against the Flyers back on Mar. 1, 2007.

  • Feb 28, 2023; Calgary, Alberta, CAN; Boston Bruins defenseman Dmitry Orlov (81) celebrates his goal with teammates against the Calgary Flames during the first period at Scotiabank Saddledome. Mandatory Credit: Sergei Belski/USA TODAY Sports

    Feb 28, 2023; Calgary, Alberta, CAN; Boston Bruins defenseman Dmitry Orlov (81) celebrates his goal with teammates against the Calgary Flames during the first period at Scotiabank Saddledome. (Sergei Belski/USA TODAY Sports)

  • Already without Taylor Hall, the Bruins were dealt another blow on the injury front in this contest, as Nick Foligno departed the game in the second period and did not return for the third. Hit with a lower-body injury designation and deemed ‘unlikely to return’ by the Bruins ahead of the third period, Foligno suffered the injury in a collision with Zadorov, and visibly struggled to get back to the B’s bench.

    The Bruins do not expect to get either Hall or Foligno back in action Thursday night against the Sabres.

    That game will mark the start of a four-game homestand for the Bruins, with tilts against the Sabres, Rangers, Oilers, and Red Wings on deck for Jim Montgomery’s squad.

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