BOSTON (CBS) — Since the start of the season, the Boston Bruins have touted themselves as a resilient bunch. But was it really warranted?
Sure, the shootout win over the Jets was technically a comeback victory, though the Bruins erased their only deficit of the afternoon before the first intermission. They were also trailing against the Islanders but knotted that one up before the end of the second period. It’s true they climbed out of a 2-0 and 3-2 deficit in New York last week, but they ultimately fell in overtime. And yes, the Bruins rallied Monday night after giving up two goals late in the second, but that was simply the Bruins recovering from their own mistakes, not standing tall against an opponent that was playing its best game.
Yet on Tuesday night, on the second night of a back-to-back, on a night when neither the referees nor the bounces were on their side, the Bruins dug deep in the third period to score their only goal of the night before outlasting the Devils in a marathon shootout. For their efforts, the Bruins remain undefeated in regulation, having secured 11 out of a possible 12 points through six games this season.
It’s the first time the Bruins have gone six games without a regulation loss to start a season since the defending Stanley Cup-champion squad of Espo, Orr and Bucyk did the same in 1970-71.
“We were resilient,” said Brad Marchand, repeating a familiar word in the Bruins’ locker room this season. “We showed that we can win in all situations, whether we’re up, down or tied. It doesn’t matter.”
The Bruins were down for 28:25, after David Clarkson tipped a Marek Zidlicky shot from the point on a Devils power play in the second period, ending the Bruins’ run of perfection on the penalty kill this season.
They generated a fair number of scoring chances but had trouble maintaining a consistent attack, in large part due to their inability to stay out of the penalty box. Shawn Thornton’s first-period fighting major (a unanimous decision over familiar foe Krys Barch) aside, the Bruins were whistled for five penalties on the night, which appeared to have buried their chances of keeping alive their regulation unbeaten streak.
Yet they kept fighting, and all it took was one more exceptional shift from the line of Milan Lucic, David Krejci and Nathan Horton to even the score.
With less than five minutes left to play, Lucic carried the puck through the neutral zone before making a blue line pass to Krejci. With two white jerseys closing in on him, Krejci quickly fed the puck to Horton on the right wing, and he calmly and patiently fired a wrister through the legs of goaltender Johan Hedberg. The home crowd erupted, and the never-say-die Bruins knew they’d be walking away with at least one point on the night.
“That’s what it’s all about,” Horton, who’s tied for the team lead with three goals, said after the win. “That’s what we talked about — you’re not always going to be at your best, but we pull through. You’re down a goal, you’re down two goals, it doesn’t matter. You just work hard and fight back. That’s the kind of team we are and the kind of guys we are on our team. We all know we can come back when we’re down and I think that’s what makes us so good.”
Given the way Tuukka Rask (25 saves on 26 shots) was playing, the Bruins likely felt confident that they’d go home with a point, but earning that second point proved to be yet another struggle.
Following a frenzied overtime period that saw more shots than whistles, Tyler Seguin scored on the first shootout attempt of the night … but there was a problem. A fan threw a sausage onto the ice during the shootout attempt, and Seguin was forced to shoot again. Seguin was admittedly upset at the situation, but he regained his composure enough to score again on his second attempt.
Ilya Kovalchuk quickly silenced the crowd though, sniping over Rask’s left shoulder on the following attempt to tie the shootout 1-1. Four shooters for each team were stopped before Claude Julien called upon Brad Marchand to be his sixth shooter of the night. Marchand was able to fire the puck through Hedberg’s five-hole before Rask made his fifth save of the shootout, and the Bruins skated away yet again with two points for their effort.
While Marchand could have claimed he scored the goal thanks to an extreme focus or determination, he didn’t lie after the victory.
“I just kind of blacked out. I don’t know what happened,” Marchand said. “I’m serious, I blacked out. I don’t know what happened. I just made a move and shot and looked back, and it was in.”
With the Bruins’ early-season success, not even temporary amnesia seems to be able to stop them.
“Our guys have been really good,” Julien said. “We’ve found ways to win. To me, we’ve played some pretty good hockey so far early in this regular season, and the games that weren’t quite as good as we should have been, we found a way to win. And to be a good team you’ve got to be able to do that. Not every night is going to be a great night. But at the end of the day it’s how hard you’re willing to work to get that win, and our guys have been good at answering that call.”
The standings certainly reflect Julien’s statement, and though the season is still less than two weeks old, the Bruins have firmly built their foundation and identity as a team that won’t quit.