In any sport, after a long trip, the first game at home following the trip is always a difficult one. The NHL did the Boston Bruins no favors after they played four games in six days out west by having them return home less than 48 hours after grinding out a 4-3 overtime win over the Calgary Flames on Feb. 28.
As has been the case, never doubt the 2022-23 Boston Bruins. After a sluggish first period, the Black and Gold rebounded with a strong final 40 minutes and scored five third-period goals on their way to a 7-1 victory over the Buffalo Sabres, a team in desperate need of points in the chase for an Eastern Conference wild card spot. The win was their 48th of the season and they became the first team in NHL history to record 100 points in 61 games. The previous mark was 62 games, set by the 1976-77 Montreal Canadiens. Here are three takeaways from the Bruins’ nine straight win.
Dmitry Orlov, Have a Night
When general manager (GM) Don Sweeney made the trade with the Washington Capitals on Feb. 23 to acquire Dmitry Orlov and Garnet Hathaway, it was a surprising move. Three games into his Bruin career, Orlov has fit right in with his new teammates.
After scoring two goals and registering three assists in his first two games, he made his TD Garden debut an impressive one. In a scoreless second period, the 5-foot-11 left-shot one-timed a Hampus Lindholm pass past Buffalo goalie Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen for his third goal in three games. On his next shift, he picked up the secondary assist when Jakub Lauko buried the rebound of a Brandon Carlo shot for a 2-0 lead.
Orlov finished with one goal and two assists and a plus/minus of plus-3. He played a team-high 21:02 and that included a team-high 3:09 on the penalty kill in the absence of Derek Forbort. It’s just been four games, but he has been very good in all situations and adjusting with a new partner in each game.
Bruins Lose Brad Marchand to an Injury
When it rains, it pours. After playing nearly two-thirds of the season without many injuries, they are piling up and piling up quick in the last four games. Taylor Hall flew back to Boston following the 3-1 win over the Vancouver Canucks on Feb. 25 with a lower-body injury and Nick Foligno left late in the second period in the win over Calgary with a lower-body injury. Before the game with the Sabres, both players were placed on Long Term Injury Reserve (LTIR). Now you can add one more player to the injury list.
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Brad Marchand left in the second period with a lower-body injury and was ruled out of the rest of the game between the second and third periods. Earlier in the day Thursday, Sweeney acquired Tyler Bertuzzi in a trade from the Detroit Red Wings and that is turning into what could be a bigger trade than originally thought at the time. He was acquired to fill Hall’s spot on the third line, but if Marchand misses time, he could very well be slotted with Patrice Bergeron and Jake DeBrusk on Saturday against the New York Rangers.
Pavel Zacha Stays Hot
Quietly, one of the hottest Bruins over the last 19 games has been Pavel Zacha. Acquired from the New Jersey Devils last summer, he has fit in perfectly with David Pastrnak and David Krejci on the second line. With the Bruins leading 2-0 midway through the third period, he gave them some breathing room with his 16th goal of the season.
Pastrnak kept the puck in at the blue line and made a pass to Krejci, who slid a backhand pass at the side of the net to Zacha and he buried his 11th goal in his last 19 games. It was the third straight game that he scored in. His goal numbers in the last week could be higher as he had three shots on the net against the Canucks, but was turned back each time. He has been generating chances and taking advantage of playing with Krejci and Pastrnak.
Quick Bruins’ Takeaways
- Jeremy Swayman made 26 saves and allowed just a third-period goal to Casey Mittelstadt, but it was his work in the first period that set the tone. He made saves on Victor Olofsson, JJ Peterka on a breakaway and then stopped Jack Quinn alone in front of the net on a redirected shot with two seconds left in the period.
- With Bertuzzi not in Boston yet, Jakub Lauko returned to the lineup after being called up from the Providence Bruins in the American Hockey League (AHL) and scored two goals. He scored on a rebound of a Carlo shot in the second period and then put home another rebound in the third period on a Charlie Coyle shot. He has three goals this season and is making the case for more time with injuries piling up.
- The power play, which has struggled lately, went 1-for-3 with Orlov’s goal in the second period accounting for it, but earlier in the period, the first unit looked the best they have in a long time. They had four shots in a minute and without the effort of Luukkonen, they could have opened the scoring earlier in the period. It was a good sign to see them moving the puck like they had been earlier in the season and creating high-danger chances.
Overall, considering the first game back after a four-game, six-day road trip, it was an impressive performance by the Bruins. Things don’t get any easier with the Rangers coming to Boston on Saturday with their new-looking lineup, but after that, they get a five-day rest, which will be big for the veterans to get some rest before a compact schedule kicks in before the playoffs.