Two days after blowing a 2-0 lead to the Edmonton Oilers in what turned out to be a 3-2 loss, the Boston Bruins turned the tables on the Detroit Red Wings Saturday (March 11) at the TD Garden. After spotting the visitors a 2-0 lead through the first period, the Bruins responded with a dominant second period, then found a way to score the game-winner late in the third period for a 3-2 win that was their 50th of the season in just 64 games, becoming the fastest team to 50 wins in a season. Later Saturday night, Boston became the first team to clinch a 2023 playoff berth when the New York Islanders lost to the Washington Capitals, 5-1.
It certainly wasn’t always pretty for the Bruins as the Red Wings came ready to play and Boston weathered the storm in the opening 20 minutes to hang around enough before they got back to their style over the final 40 minutes. Here are three takeaways as Boston improved to 50-9-5 overall in 2022-23 and 27-3-3 on home ice.
Another Bad Start for the Bruins
Following the loss to the Oilers on Thursday night (March 9), coach Jim Montgomery said that he thought that Edmonton ”outplayed us, outworked us, and out-coached us.” After seeing that comment, you would have thought that the Bruins would have a strong start against the Red Wings, but it didn’t happen.
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In fact, they found themselves down 2-0 just 4:26 into the game. Boston got the first power play just 1:10 into the game, but a turnover at the offensive blueline led to a 2-on-1 Red Wings break and Andrew Copp beat Linus Ullmark for an early lead. Just over three minutes later, Alex Chiasson scored on the power play when he redirected a David Perron pass past Ullmark. Detroit continued to carry the play and outshot the Bruins 13-5 through the first 10 minutes, but Ullmark kept his team in the game. Toward the end of the period, the Black and Gold played better and created more chances, but slow starts as of late have been a thorn in Boston’s side.
Bruins Have Dominant Second Period & Catch Break
Whatever Montgomery’s message was between the first and second period was, it certainly was heard. The Bruins held a 36-5 advantage in shot attempts, and outshot Detroit 18-2. Magnus Hellberg was very good at stopping everything thrown at him, but he finally was beaten by Hampus Lindholm when his wrist shot from the point hit the post and found its way into the net. Then Boston caught a very big break that could have been considered a turning point in the game.
Dylan Larkin appeared to answer for the Red Wings 45 seconds and give them their two-goal back, but the play was whistled for a penalty on Larkin, who slashed David Krejci’s stick out of his hands to create a clear passing lane. The Black and Gold’s struggling power play broke their recent slump when Patrice Bergeron redirected a Jake DeBrusk pass past Hellberg to tie the game. If Larkin’s goal had stood, there is no telling how the game would have ended up, but the Bruins had to put together a dominant period just to tie the game. It was one of their better periods this season and it was needed.
Hathaway, Nosek & Greer Had a Strong Game
Arguably the best line for the entire game for the Bruins was their fourth line of Garnet Hathaway, Tomas Nosek, and A.J. Greer. With the top three lines struggling in the first period, the trio continued to provide energy shifts, getting pucks in deep and being physical on the forecheck, and causing havoc in front of Hellberg. They were consistent all game and got rewarded in the third period.
After the Bruins tied the game with a pair of second-period goals, the fourth line scored the game-winning goal in the third period. They had a clean breakout of out their defensive zone and it led to Greer firing a shot that Hellberg stopped, but he left a rebound at the side of the net and Hathaway fought through a Larkin check to knock in the rebound for his first goal with Boston. Montgomery was very happy with their effort following the game.
“Really deserving. I thought they were our best line all night long right from the first shift of the game…they had a lot of good looks and spent a lot of time in the O-zone.”
For the game 5-on-5, they had a 9-6 advantage in shots, eight hits, five for Hathaway, and had xGF% of 67.3. They also had a 64.7 Fenwick for (FF%) and a 68.2% Corsi for (CF%). All of that was done with Greer logging just 8:44 in time on ice, Hathaway at 9:01, and Nosek at 11:06.
Ullmark Allows Bruins to Win Third Period With Big Saves
All season long, the Bruins have been the best team in the NHL in the third period with a plus-48 goal differential entering the game and that is after giving up two in the final 20 minutes to Edmonton in the previous game. In order to beat Detroit in regulation, they needed to win the period and Ullmark made sure that was going to happen with some big saves at key times.
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With the game tied 2-2, Chiasson had a clean look from the slot and Ullmark made a high-light reel glove save to keep the game tied. Following that save, he made a save off a Filip Zadina deflection and finished with 14 saves in the period. For the game, he made 29 saves and a lot of those were in the first period with the Bruins trailing and in the third period before Hathaway’s winner. It was another performance from Ullmark that strengthened his case for the Vezina Trophy.
Bertuzzi Played Well on Second Line
As he has done multiple times this season, Montgomery shook up his middle-six before the game, moving Tyler Bertuzzi to the second line with Krejci and David Pastrnak and sliding Pavel Zacha to the third line. Bertuzzi, facing his former team for the first time since the March 2 trade, finished with three shots on the net in 16:43 in time on ice, but it was the little things he did that stuck out.
His passing was on point, and he generated scoring chances for Pastrnak who had seven shots landed on the net and Krejci five. Bertuzzi is valuable to Montgomery as he can slide up and down the lineup and create scoring chances. He did it with the third line against the Oilers with Charlie Coye and Trent Frederic and they were the best line that night for the Bruins. It’s no secret that whenever Bertuzzi is on the ice, good things happen. If there were any butterflies about facing his old team just nine days after the trade, it didn’t show.
Quick Bruins’ Takeaways
- Bergeron scored on the power play in the second period, but overall in three other chances, there were promising signs of it improving. The puck was moving better, there were more high-danger chances and in the big picture, they finally capitalized on one. It has to be a confidence builder going forward.
- Late in the first period, the Bruins’ defense stepped up offensively and became more involved in the offensive zone and joining the rush. They combined for nine shots on the net and got the scoring started with Lindholm’s goal in the second period. When Boston is at its best, the defense is involved in all three zones.
- For the second straight game, the Bruins were disciplined and were only whistled for two penalties after being called for just one against the Oilers. Staying out of the penalty box was key with Derek Forbort the healthy scratch against the Red Wings.
Following the win, the Bruins hit the road for a five-game road trip beginning Sunday afternoon (March 12) in the backend of the home-and-home with Detroit at Little Caesars Arena. It will be a challenging road trip against some teams in desperate need of points for the playoffs. It will be interesting to see if Montgomery starts resting some people on the trip looking ahead to the Stanley Cup Playoffs.