BOSTON (CBS) — Entering Wednesday night’s game against the Blackhawks, it had been a while since Bruins defenseman Charlie McAvoy had scored a goal. He picked a pretty good time to end that skid.
You had to go back to last season for McAvoy’s last regular-season tally, which came on March 27. The Boston blue liner had gone 55 games (57 if you include the playoffs) without lighting the lamp. But that steak came to an end Wednesday night when McAvoy netted the overtime winner against the Blackhawks, lifting Boston to a 2-1 victory in Chicago.
Just over a minute into extra hockey, a streaking McAvoy took a feed from Jake DeBrusk in front of Chicago netminder Robin Lehner, and poked it in for his first goal of the season. Happy that he finally had that monkey off his back, McAvoy’s teammates on the ice rushed toward him and piled on top. Then his teammates from the bench joined the fun.
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His teammates wouldn’t let him up, and McAvoy thought he’d be spending the night inside the United Center.
“The response was kinda neat. They were all busting my chops,” McAvoy said after the game. “We’re such a close group. I could feel everyone’s genuine happiness for me and we all share that with each other when anybody does good things.”
McAvoy’s first goal came on his 76th shot of the season. For a player who found the back of the net seven times in each of his first two NHL seasons, the slump was starting to wear on him a bit.
“It’s tough. As much as you don’t want to say it, you think about it,” he admitted. “You feel like you can contribute a said amount and when it’s not there, the confidence takes a hit.”
But McAvoy had the support of his teammates throughout it all, and made sure to thank them after they bombarded him on the ice. He said that he gave out several hugs after netting the game-winner.
“I said to these guys, ‘Thanks for keeping my confidence high.’ They all do,” he said.
With 19 assists to go with his one goal on the season, McAvoy is on pace to finish with 30 points, which would be two off of his career-high 32 points as a rookie in 2017-18. But now that he finally saw one go in the net, McAvoy is confident it’s the start of something good.
Wednesday night’s win was Boston’s fifth straight and moved them atop the NHL standings. The Bruins now have 78 points on the season, one more than Washington’s 77 for the most in the NHL.