5 Takeaways From Bruins’ Perfect 4-Game Western Trip

For the third time in two months, the Boston Bruins headed west for a road trip and for the third time in 2022-23, they had a successful trip. After winning two of three games in December, they swept all three games in January. This time, after beating the Seattle Kraken, they went to Western Canada and completed the sweep with three wins to increase their standing at the top of the NHL standings at 47-8-5.

After the four-game trip, the Bruins return home for a four-game homestand, but before they return to the friendly confines of the TD Garden, here are five takeaways from their undefeated four-game trip and their final one out west this season.

Bruins Win Games Multiple Ways

If there has been one thing that has been consistent with the 2022-23 Bruins, it’s that they can win games in any fashion. That was on display in the first two games on the trip and in the final game.

Against the Kraken in a 6-5 victory on Feb. 23, they went back and forth with the first team to beat them in regulation at the TD Garden in January for the full 60 minutes. Seattle scored just 40 seconds into the game on a Matty Beniers goal, then the Bruins even the score on a David Krejci goal. The teams each scored three times in a wild second period before Seattle grabbed a 5-4 lead with a Jaden Schwartz goal with 4:10 left in the game. Twenty-nine seconds later, Brandon Carlo tied the game, before Jake DeBrusk scored the game-winning goal with 1:36 left.

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Two nights later against the Vancouver Canucks, Hampus Lindholm, and Brad Marchand staked the Bruins to a 2-0 first-period lead, but the game was a grind for the final 40 minutes. Brock Boeser brought the Canucks within one at 2-1 early in the third period, but goalie Linus Ullmark sealed the win when he scored the first empty-net goal by a Boston goalie in franchise history for the 3-1 final. The Bruins followed up their low-scoring win over Vancouver with a 3-2 grind-it-out victory over the Edmonton Oilers.

Closing out the trip against the Calgary Flames, they were outplayed and looked like a team playing a fourth game in six nights on the road, but still were able to escape with a 4-3 overtime win on a Charlie McAvoy goal with four seconds left. Four wins, in multiple different fashions, continues to show that this group fights through adversity on a nightly basis.

Bruins Lose Hall, Survive Multiple Injury Scares

Taylor Hall returned to Boston before the game with the Oilers with what coach Jim Montgomery called a lower-body injury. How severe the injury remains to be seen, however, against Edmonton, the Bruins survived not one, not two, not three, but four potential injuries to four of their top-six forwards. 

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In the first period, Marchand left after colliding with Evander Kane just 16 seconds into his first shift of the game. He missed a majority of the period, but returned after Nick Foligno gave the Bruins a 2-1 lead. In the third period, David Krejci took a heavy hit behind the Boston net from Klim Kostin, who was given a five-minute major penalty after Krejci was cut beside his eye. After the referees reviewed the video, they rescinded the penalty when the video showed it was Krejci’s stick that caused the cut. Later in the third period, Bergeron took a high stick from Kostin, who received a double-minor that essentially ran out the remainder of the clock. During the Bruins’ power play, David Pastrnak took a slash across his back from Vincent Desharanis, who was assessed a minor penalty.

Boston has been able to avoid the injury bug this season to some of their big-name players and in chunks, but against the Oilers, they dodged a major injury to a key top-six forward.

McDavid Out Duels Pastrnak In Bruins Win

The league’s top two goal scorers went head-to-head when Connor McDavid and Pastrnak went toe-to-toe for the first time this season. McDavid won the battle on the scoresheet, but Pastrnak and the Bruins won the battle where it counted the most, on the scoreboard.

Connor McDavid Edmonton Oilers
Connor McDavid, Edmonton Oilers (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

McDavid gave Edmonton a 1-0 first-period lead with his 49th goal of the season when he beat Jeremy Swayman with a slap shot between the legs. It’s a goal that the young netminder would like to have back. In the second period, McDavid scored his 50th goal of the season when he took a pass from Kostin 4-on-4 alone in front of the Bruins’ net and made a move around Swayman to slide the puck into an open net. For the game, McDavid finished with two goals, to move eight ahead of Pastrnak in the race for the Maurice Rocket Richard Award, and five shots on the net, and Pastrnak had four shots landed on the net. 

In the big picture, the Bruins got the two points in the standings to open up their Atlantic Division, Eastern Conference, and overall NHL lead to 13 points with 99.

Bruins Goaltending Shined on Trip

When the trip started, if you told the Bruins that they would come back to Boston with eight out of a possible eight points with four games in six days, they would have taken it and ran with it. One of the biggest reasons why they did was because of their goaltending, of course.

Swayman fought through giving up five goals to Seattle to make some big saves in the third period with the game tied 4-4 that allowed his team to hang in the game and rally with a pair of late goals. The former University of Maine goalie made 36 saves against the up-start Kraken. Against the Oilers, he bounced back from a shaky first goal allowed to McDavid to turn back 21 of the final 22 shots he faced, including all eight in the third period to make a 3-2 lead after 40 minutes stand up.

Jeremy Swayman Boston Bruins
Jeremy Swayman, Boston Bruins (Photo by Steve Babineau/NHLI via Getty Images)

Ullmark had a night to remember against the Canucks. He finished with 26 saves, including 20 over the final two periods in the win. He topped off his performance by being the first Boston goalie in franchise history to score a goal when he launched a shot from beside his goal the length of the ice with 48 seconds left to seal the win. It also was his 30th win over the season in just 37 outings. Against the Flames, Ullmark won his 31st game with a 54-save performance. He had 19 saves in the first period, 20 in the second, 12 in the third, and six in overtime. He continues to make his case for the Vezina Trophy every time he steps into the crease.

Hathaway & Orlov Getting Comfortable With New Team

When it was announced by the Washinton Capitals on Feb. 23 that Dmitry Orlov and Garnet Hathaway were being held out of the lineup for trade-related reasons, it came as a surprise. What was even more of a surprise was when it was announced 30 minutes later that they were both being traded to the Bruins.

Both quickly made their way to Western Canada for the three games in four days and they slid right into the lineup and made contributions for their new team. Orlob was second in time on ice for defenseman against the Cancuks at 22:04 and Hathaway led his fourth line in time on ice at 11:41, with 1:18 of that coming shorthanded. Against Edmonton, Hathaway set up Tomas Nosek with the Bruins’ first goal when he made a nifty touch-pass to Nosek in front of the net and was able to beat Stuart Skinner. Orlov picked up the second assist on the goal. Orlov picked up his second assist of the night later in the period on Nick Foligno’s goal. Against the Flames, Orlov scored his two goals as a Bruin and had an assist in Pavel Zacha’s third-period power-play goal that tied the game 3-3. He logged 22:27 in the overtime win.

Both are very good additions for depth and will give Jim Montgomery the opportunity to give some of his defensemen and forwards a night off.

Boston returns home for four games against some excellent teams. The Buffalo Sabres open the homestand on March 2, followed by the new-look New York Rangers (March 4), the Oilers (March 9), and the Detroit Red Wings (March 11). In between is the NHL trade deadline at 3 o’clock on March 3. It’s going to be an eventful 10 days around the Black and Gold.

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