3 Takeaways From Bruins’ 2-1 Winter Classic Win Over Penguins

Through the first 40 minutes of the 2023 Winter Classic at Fenway Park on Jan. 2, it was not the best first two periods that the Boston Bruins have put together through their first 36 games of 2022-23. They were outshot, outplayed, and out-hustled on nearly every shift, but as they have throughout the first half of the season, they saved their best for last.

Trailing 1-0 entering the third period, the Bruins put together a solid final 20 minutes, as they have on many occasions this season and you could say they had the Pittsburgh Penguins right where they wanted them. Two goals from Jake DeBrusk, having one of the better bounce-back seasons a Bruin has had in a long time, and more timely saves from Linus Ullmark helped Boston rally for a 2-1 win. Here are three takeaways from the Black and Gold’s 29th win of the season.

Jake DeBrusk to the Rescue

Through the first two periods, the Bruins only had 19 shots at Penguins goalies Tristan Jarry, who left late in the first period with an injury, and Casey DeSmith, but the high-danger chances were few and far between. Pittsburgh did a good job of forcing shots from the outside, taking away the passing lanes, and frustrating Boston. In the third period, that all changed.

Related: Bruins’ 3 Up, 3 Down: Zacha, Bergeron, Senators & More

Latest News & Highlights

Boston supplied their most consistent pressure of the game and as their third power play of the game expired, DeBrusk tied the game when he took a pass from Brad Marchand at the side of the Pittsburgh net and quickly wrapped the puck around and through DeSmith’s legs to even the game at 1-1. With just 2:24 left in the game, he scored the game-winning goal. Taylor Hall used his speed to enter the zone and drove toward the Penguins’ net, where he dropped off a pass to DeBrusk who buried it into the open side of the net. DeBrusk, who finished tied with Hall for a team-high five shots on the net, has been thriving this season on whatever line first-year coach Jim Montgomery moves him to in the top nine.

Linus Ulmark Puts Together Another Strong Effort

It feels like this is becoming a common theme after nearly every game that Ullmark plays, but once again, the league’s top goalie numbers wise kept his team in the game to allow them to have a third-period comeback, before making two saves in the final minute to secure the regulation win.

Linus Ullmark Boston Bruins 2023 Winter Classic
Linus Ullmark, Boston Bruins 2023 Winter Classic (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)

Ullmark made 14 saves in the first period when the Bruins were outplayed the most. He stopped Sidney Crosby in the slot, then made a reactionary save when another Crosby shot was tipped by Jake Guentzel. He gave up his only goal of the game in the second period when Kasperi Kapanen was left alone in front of the net and roofed a pass from Danton Heinen for a 1-0 lead. In the third period and with the Bruins clinging to a 2-1 lead, Ullmark stopped Marcus Petterson on a one-timer from the top of the right circle and then stopped Evgeni Malkin before Malkin’s final opportunity beat Ullmark off the inside of his pad, but crossed the goalline after the green light behind the goal went on to signal the end of the game.

In reality, the Bruins only being down 1-0 entering the third period might have been the biggest surprise of the day as the Penguins carried the play for the first two periods, with Boston looking like they were a step behind. Without Ullmark’s performance, there is no third-period heroics from DeBrusk.

Third Period Lineup Shuffles Work Out

As he has done throughout this season, Montgomery made some lineup changes heading into the third period, and the moves paid off. The first move was reuniting the “Perfection Line” with Marchand, Patrice Bergeron, and David Pastrnak. They began the period with a solid shift setting the tone, which carried over to the rest of the period, which included Marchand drawing a penalty on Brian Dumoulin. With three of the five first-power-play unit players on the ice, the Bruins started their second unit, which led to DeBrusk being on the ice as the penalty expired to tie the game.

Jake DeBrusk, Boston Bruins
Jake DeBrusk, Boston Bruins (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

When Pastrnak was bumped up to begin the period on the first line, DeBrusk was dropped to the second line with David Krejci, and Hall was moved up from the third line. The move paid off with the trio connected with a breakout out of the defensive zone by Hampus Lindholm, who made a pass to Krejci and he led Hall with speed through the neutral zone and it paid off with DeBrusk burying the game-winner. Not to be overlooked, but the third line of Charlie Coyle, Trent Frederic, and Pavel Zacha had a strong period as well, with Coyle hitting the post early in the period off a turnaround shot in the slot.

A win is a win and no matter where the game is played this season in Boston so far, at the TD Garden or Fenway Park, the Bruins remain perfect in home games at 19-0-3, running their point streak in home games to a crazy 22 consecutive outings. The Black and Gold will now head out for a three-game West Coast road trip in four days beginning Jan. 5 against the Los Angeles Kings collecting points in 11 straight games and the league’s best record.

Explore everything hockey with THW’s Hockeypedia pages.

The Hockey Writers HockeyPedia 800x120