Boston 2, New Jersey 1
When: 7:00 PM ET, Thursday, October 20, 2016
Where: TD Garden, Boston, Massachusetts
BOSTON – (Wire Service Report) – It is no secret how important Patrice Bergeron is to the Boston Bruins. In short, he is their best player, in all phases of the game. That is what made it fitting for him to score the winning goal in his first game of the season.
“He does so much for our team … having Bergy back is great,” linemate Brad Marchand said after setting Bergeron up for the winner with 1:15 left Thursday as the Bruins escaped with a 2-1 decision over the New Jersey Devils in Boston’s home opener.
Bergeron, who missed the first three games of the season with a lower-body injury, returned with a bang.
“He brings so many things to the table,” said Marchand, who tied the game with 9:47 remaining by recording his third goal in four games. “We do have a lot of chemistry. Every time I come around the net, I know he’s going to be hovering in that (high slot) area. So it’s good to get back to playing together and get closer to having our full lineup.”
Marchand found Bergeron up high, and Bergeron let a quick wrist shot go, flicking it at the net. Linemate David Pastrnak, covered by defenseman Kyle Quincey, crossed in front of Cory Schneider just as the puck got there, screening the goaltender. Schneider said the puck hit the knob of his stick.
The win was the third in four games for the Bruins, who went 2-1-0 on their opening trip without their most reliable forward. Tuukka Rask stopped 28 shots in the Boston goal.
“I think we’re growing as a team,” said Rask, 3-0-0 with five goals against on the young season. “But I think right off the bat when everybody showed up (for training camp), we looked like we were ready to go, and everybody seemed to have the right mindset.”
Schneider, a local product who played at Boston College, was strong with 34 saves, but he fell to 1-4-2 against his hometown team.
The Devils (1-2-1) knew how close they came to getting a point.
“In this league, getting a point is a good night usually, and for us, you know every point matters when you come down the stretch,” New Jersey left winger Taylor Hall said. “So tonight is a game we’re going to have to improve on, and third periods have to be out best periods because you saw tonight’s Bruins — they turned it up in the third.”
After Bergeron scored, the Bruins had to survive the final 49.9 seconds after David Backes, making his home debut with his new team, took a roughing penalty. The Devils controlled the puck well but couldn’t get it past Rask, who has been sharp early despite playing with some aches and pains that caused him to miss the second game of the trip.
Boston 4, Winnipeg 1
When: 8:00 PM ET, Monday, October 17, 2016
Where: MTS Centre, Winnipeg
WINNIPEG – (Wire Service Report) – The Boston Bruins showed off their superior special teams in defeating the Winnipeg Jets 4-1 Monday night, but their coach hopes they can make things a little easier on him in the future. Boston successfully killed off five penalties before the second period was eight minutes old and rode the momentum throughout the rest of the game.
“Those penalties were deserved,” Bruins coach Claude Julien said. “We did a good job of killing them, and when we had the opportunity to get some scoring chances, I thought we were pretty good. Our back end wasn’t pretty as far as getting pucks out, but the battle factor was there.”
Julien was quick to praise his goaltender, Finnish veteran Tuukka Rask, who kicked out 34 of the Jets’ 35 shots. He was particularly happy with one bang-bang play late in the first period when Rask stopped forwards Mathieu Perreault and Adam Lowry in rapid succession on his doorstop to keep the score 1-1.
“That one (sequence) stands out for me,” Julien said. “That might have been the turning point. He gave us some life and some confidence, and then we really took off.”
The Bruins improved to 2-1-0, while the Jets slipped to 1-2-0. Rask said he was in a good position to make saves all night long because he saw the puck well and his defensemen largely kept the front of the net clear of enemy snipers.
“It was tough to control (Perreault’s) shot, but (Lowry) ended up hitting me with the rebound,” he said. “Sometimes you save them and sometimes you don’t.”
Jets captain Blake Wheeler agreed that his team simply didn’t get the breaks when it really could have used them.
“It’s kind of the exact opposite of the last couple games — not a whole lot of time in the (offensive) zone,” Wheeler said. “We didn’t get the bounce that we needed at the right time. We were in pretty (good) control of that game until they scored there at the end of the second period. It just felt like we spent a lot of time in the box in the third period and could just never really get into a rhythm to try to tie it up.”
What was that about bounces again?
Bruins right winger David Pastrnak, playing in his 100th career game, scored the goal that Wheeler lamented when he burst into the Jets’ zone down the left side but pulled up after defenseman Tyler Myers was preparing to angle him off into the corner. His centering pass deflected off the outstretched stick of Myers’ partner, Toby Enstrom, and past goalie Connor Hellebuyck.
“I tried to beat (Myers) wide, but he made a good gap, so I turned around,” Pastrnak said of the goal with one minute left in the second period that gave Boston a 2-1 lead. “I got a good bounce there.”
Jets coach Paul Maurice said his young squad, which featured four rookies Monday night, is still learning how to create offensive chances in a certain manner, but once it does, the results should be better down the road.
“We spent zone time against a pretty well-schooled defensive team, and we were able to generate that,” Maurice said. “There was some finish, some shot-blocking, some quickness just with the final release of the puck that didn’t go for us.”
It is always a good sign when a goaltender is the team’s leading point-getter in a victory. Rask had a pair of assists — one on Pastrnak’s goal and a second on Zdeno Chara’s last-minute marker — to become the first Bruins goalie to record two points during the regular season in franchise history. Rask also accomplished the feat in the playoffs a few years ago.
“That’s awesome, I’m breaking records. Next game I’ll get three (points),” Rask said with a laugh.
The Jets got the start they wanted when center Alex Burmistrov spotted Wheeler stepping out of the penalty box and fired a pass from deep in his own end to send his captain in on a breakaway against Rask. A little razzle-dazzle later and it was 1-0 Jets at the 10-minute mark of the first period. Boston didn’t waste any time responding, catching the Jets running around in their own zone after the ensuing faceoff, allowing center Dominic Moore to roof a wrist shot past Hellebuyck just 19 seconds later. It looked as if Chara gave the Bruins a 2-1 lead early in the second period with a seeing-eye wrist shot after a Jets giveaway in their own zone, but Winnipeg challenged the play, and it was ruled offside.
Hellebuyck finished with 21 saves.
NOTES: Boston is C Dominic Moore’s 10th NHL team, tying him with Lee Stempniak for the most teams of any current player. … The Jets have gone back to the lineup that defeated the Carolina Hurricanes on opening night, reinserting RW Joel Armia and D Ben Chiarot, and sending RW Chris Thorburn and D Mark Stuart to the press box. … Joining them from the Bruins are C Austin Czarni, C Patrice Bergeron and D Joe Morrow. … The Jets are also without D Jacob Trouba, who continues to sit out after missing training camp and demanding a trade, and C Bryan Little, who is out indefinitely with a lower-body injury suffered on opening night. … The Jets will induct Bobby Hull, Anders Hedberg and Ulf Nilsson into their new Hall of Fame on Wednesday night when the Toronto Maple Leafs are in town. … Jets rookie sensation Patrik Laine’s family, including his parents, sister and girlfriend, were in the stands.
Boston 6, Columbus 3
Where: Nationwide Arena, Columbus, Ohio
COLUMBUS – (Wire Service Report) – With the normal opening night excitement palpable, the Boston Bruins overcame two, two-goal deficits to top the Columbus Blue Jackets 6-3 at Nationwide Arena on Thursday night.
“I didn’t think we played that bad,” said Bruins head coach Claude Julien. “We had two mistakes that were costly (first period), and that was unfortunate. But it was just a matter of getting ourselves back in the game.”
Brad Marchand and his linemates were the Bruins catalysts in the comeback. Marchand dished out three helpers in the second period before scoring two goals in the third to seal the victory.
“It was a good way to start the year,” Marchand said. “The big thing from tonight that we have to take away is the character we showed. It’s a lot of fun when you come back from a two-goal deficit and win.”
Marchand’s linemates, offseason addition David Backes (two goals and an assist) and David Pastrnak (two goals and two assists) also played a large role in the victory.
“You could see some of the nerves and the squeezing of the sticks in the first period,” said Backes. “They got the 4-on-4 goal and then it doesn’t take them long to score on the power play. But I think we responded really well and showed a lot of the character in this room.”
Seth Jones had a goal and an assist and Alexander Wennberg and Cam Atkinson scored a goal each for the Blue Jackets. The Blue Jackets scored just 2:58 into the first period when Wennberg carried the puck through the neutral zone before sniping the puck past Bruins’ goalie Tuukka Rask. Jones and rookie Zach Werenski got the assists.
“I thought he played a good game tonight,” Jones said of his defensive partner Werenski, “and moved the puck very well. Obviously, we’re going to have to communicate more in some areas, but it is (just) the first game. I thought we were pretty good, but obviously we can be better.”