By Matt Kalman, CBS Boston
BOSTON (CBS) — Bruins forward Jimmy Hayes says the puck that wound up being his first goal in 16 games hit off the shaft of his stick Wednesday.READ MORE: Durham NH Police Searching For Missing 22-Year-Old UNH Student
It was difficult to tell if the puck actually hit Hayes or should’ve been a goal credited to Ryan Spooner, but it didn’t matter. On their way to a 3-0 victory against the Pittsburgh Penguins at TD Garden, the Bruins got all their offense from secondary options. That’s what mattered most.
Goaltender Tuukka Rask was the brightest star with 34 saves, including 18 in a second period that saw the Bruins land just four shots on Rask’s counterpart, Jeff Zatkoff. One of those four, however, was the wild puck that went from Spooner in the corner to the front of the net. There it pinballed off Pittsburgh defenseman Ian Cole, Zatkoff and then either Hayes or Cole again before crossing the goal line for a 2-0 Boston lead at 4:00.
“It’s happened to me before,” Hayes said about his slump, “but you kind of want to find a way out of it. But that’s what you’ve got to do, go to the net and get a greasy one. You want to make sure you keep going and get a greasy one. You don’t want to lose sleep. You’ve got to get one and keep going.”
Spooner sealed the win with an empty-net power-play goal at 17:17 of the third period. Max Talbot opened the scoring at 9:52 of the first period, when he kept the puck on a 2-on-1 and beat Zatkoff high to the glove side with a wrist shot. The goal was Talbot’s first of the season, his first with the Bruins and his first in 29 games dating back to Feb. 28, when he was with Colorado.
With eight goals on the season, Spooner’s been doing his part to chip in but most of his work has been done on the power play. Hayes has five goals. Frank Vatrano has gone nine games without a goal, and before he got injured Joonas Kemppainen hadn’t scored in 18 games. Landon Ferraro’s been hot with three goals since his arrival, but the Bruins are going to need a more collective effort going forward if they’re going to hang onto a playoff spot in the Atlantic Division.READ MORE: Omicron COVID Variant Detected In Massachusetts Woman
Boston can’t rely on its top six forwards carrying it, especially with Matt Beleskey and Brett Connolly doing all they can to create chances but playing in tough luck. Those guys can relax when others pick up the load, and that’s where the likes of Hayes and Talbot come in.
“Well, that’s what you want to see,” Bruins coach Claude Julien said. “You don’t expect them to score at the rate that the top two lines are, but you certainly like to see them chip in every once in a while. And tonight, like I said, it allowed us to win this game. Those first two goals came from the third and fourth line. I even mentioned before the game that you don’t want guys playing in other guys’ shadows; you want them to be able to be confident enough to play in this league and contribute. That’s what two of those guys did for us tonight.”
Although they’re not expected to score a lot of goals, the forwards in the bottom six still take pride in being able to chip in whenever possible and take some heat off the rest of the lineup.
“Yeah [it was a relief to score], but at the same time I scored like almost a week ago, but in Providence,” Talbot said. “I mean, I think you saw by my celebration, I think you could see a lot where I was obviously [full of] happiness but relief also. It’s been a rough start in a way, but at the same time it’s good to do something good and to contribute.”
Alexander Khokhlachev got a chance to win a bottom-six job and landed just one shot on net. He’s point-less in three games this year. David Pastrnak’s return to the lineup soon will bump someone else into the bottom six. Hayes might be out of his slump and Talbot is finally in the scoring column. Maybe Vatrano will follow the lead of those guys.
The Bruins have plenty of options for bottom-six roles. They just need the players that are given the opportunity to take advantage.MORE NEWS: Demand For COVID Vaccinations Rising In Massachusetts With Arrival Of Omicron Variant
Matt Kalman covers the Bruins for CBSBoston.com and also contributes to NHL.com and several other media outlets. Follow him on Twitter @TheBruinsBlog.