When the National Hockey League put a pause on the 2019-20 season due to the international COVID-19 outbreak, the Boston Bruins were sitting atop the league standings with 100 points. They are on track to win the Presidents’ Trophy and have home-ice advantage throughout the Stanley Cup Playoffs should the season resume at some point.
To have the best record in the league and the most points means you have to win some games under different conditions. Rallying to win a game, ending a losing skid, and getting on a roll for a winning streak helps build separation from other teams in the standings. The Bruins have had their fair share of wins this season different ways as they hunker down along with the rest of the world amid the pandemic. Here are five games that have gone a long way to helping them secure the top record.
5. Nov. 23 vs. Minnesota Wild
Earlier in the season, the Bruins made a habit of falling behind in games early, but they seemed to work their way back into the game to at least earn one point. One of their biggest comebacks of the season to date happened the weekend before Thanksgiving.
Trailing the Minnesota Wild 4-2 with two minutes left in regulation, the Bruins staged an incredible comeback at TD Garden. David Krejci scored two goals, the second on the power play, 53 seconds apart in the final two minutes to force overtime.
In overtime, the Bruins completed the comeback at 2:41 of the extra session when defenseman Torey Krug collected the puck behind the Boston net and skated the length of the ice through three Wild players to score the game-winning for a 5-4 victory. That was the first of two overtime wins for the Black and Gold in six days. They beat the New York Rangers the day after Thanksgiving 3-2 in overtime at home.
4. Feb. 6 at Chicago Blackhawks
The Bruins began the post-All-Star break slate by winning their first five games, but their fourth win in the streak was impressive. Playing the night before at home in a 4-0 win over the Vancouver Canucks, the Bruins charted a plane to Chicago and rallied for another victory.
Blackhawks goalie Robin Lehner stood on his head with 38 saves in the game. He held the Bruins scoreless until Sean Kuraly’s goal midway through the second period tied the game.
After a scoreless third period, Bruins defenseman Charlie McAvoy scored his first goal of the season in overtime for a 2-1 victory. Not to be overlooked in the win, Boston backup goaltender Jaroslav Halak made 21 saves one night after Tuukka Rask shut out the Canucks.
3. Dec. 23 vs. Washington Capitals
December was a month that the Bruins would like to forget. After two wins to begin the month, they proceeded to lose eight of their next nine games. In their last game before the Christmas break, though, the Bruins took out three weeks of frustration against the Washington Capitals.
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Boston scored four first period goals on Washington goalie Braden Holtby and a second-period shorthanded goal from Charlie Coyle gave the Bruins a commanding 5-1 lead after 40 minutes. The third period turned out to be a physical battle and injuries ensued. Krug was lost with an upper-body injury that kept him out a few games.
Making the win more impressive was the fact it was done without captain Zdeno Chara. He missed the game for a minor procedure after the metal plate and screws inserted in his jaw from an injury during the Stanley Cup Final six months earlier got infected.
2. Jan. 31 at Winnipeg Jets
Boston began the post-All-Star break schedule with a two-game road trip against the Winnipeg Jets and Wild. In the first game, the Bruins sent a message that they were bringing back their big bad bruising style of hockey that had been missing for some time in their most physical game to date in the season.
McAvoy set the tone in the first period with a bone-crunching hit on Jets forward Mark Scheifele. Patrice Bergeron scored a first-period power-play goal and Jake DeBrusk added the game-winning goal early in the third period, also on the power play.
The game marked the first action that Rask saw in more than three weeks. On Jan. 14, he suffered a concussion against the Columbus Blue Jackets. Columbus forward Emil Bemstrom skated in front of Rask just 1:12 into the game and clipped the side of his head, which caused him to exit the game. The injury kept Rask out of the final four games before the All-Star break and the All-Star Game itself.
1. March 10 at Philadelphia Flyers
Little did the Bruins and the rest of the NHL know that this would be the final game for Boston for the foreseeable future. It will leave an impression as a 2-0 road victory snapped the Philadelphia Flyers’ nine-game winning streak.
Rask once again was up to the task in net, stopping all 36 Philadelphia shots for the shutout. Flyers goalie Carter Hart was up to challenge as well, but a rare power-play goal from Boston defenseman Matt Grzelcyk opened the scoring late in the second period. Bergeron sealed the win with a third-period goal.
What the future holds for the NHL moving forward in 2020 is a big unknown. The pandemic that has taken over the world is first and foremost on everybody’s mind. Staying safe and healthy is a top priority. Should that have been the last game of the season for the Bruins, it’s a good way to go out on.
Scott Roche covers the Boston Bruins for The Hockey Writers. A frequent user of the Oxford comma. Scott has been a sports writer for 25 years for different sites and daily newspapers. Writing started out as a hobby, but it has become a passion for Scott over the years.