3 Takeaways From Bruins’ 5-2 Win Over Wild

Despite having the best record in the NHL entering their game at the Xcel Energy Center against the Minnesota Wild on Saturday (March 18), Boston Bruins coach Jim Montgomery knew his team was up against the hottest team in the NHL. Minnesota entered the game 11-0-3 in their last 14 games and was coming off an eight-goal explosion against the St. Louis Blues on March 15. With the Bruins struggling on their current five-game road going 1-2-0 in the first three games, Boston’s bench boss felt that the roles were going to be reversed entering the game on who was going to be the hunted and who was doing the hunting.

“We’ve been the hunted all year long. It’s nice to be the person ready to hunt tonight.”

After beginning the trip with back-to-back losses, the Bruins have righted the ship in their last two games. After shutting out the Winnipeg Jets, 3-0, on March 16, they ended the Wild’s franchise-record points streak at 14 games with a 5-2 win. Here are three takeaways as the Black and Gold improve to 52-11-5.

Bruins Third-Line Continues to Thrive

If there has been one consistency over the last three games, it’s been the play of the third line. Tyler Bertuzzi, Charlie Coyle, and Trent Frederic combined for a goal in each of the previous two games by Frederic and against Minnesota, they were once again a dangerous trio.

Charlie Coyle, Boston Bruins (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

In 5-on-5 in 9:55 time on ice, they held a 7-0 advantage in shots, had an xGF% of 87.00, a Corsi for (CF%) of 80%, and a Fenwick for (FF%) of 84.62%. They also combined for 11 of the 38 shots Boston landed on the net. All of that was done with just three of their eight faceoffs in the offensive zone. Their relentless forecheck was a problem for the Wild, they created multiple scoring chances and Coyle was strong on the puck. Frederic scored his third goal in as many games with an empty-netter from Coyle in the third period and it was fitting that they closed out the scoring. Montgomery rewarded them for their effort by finishing the final 36 seconds on the ice, in the offensive zone and even drawing a penalty. Until Taylor Hall comes back, there is no reason to break them up.

Penalty Kill Plays Big Role Without Forbort

The one negative that came out of the win in Winnipeg was an injury to defenseman Derek Forbort, who has been hands down the best penalty-killer for the Bruins this season. Leading Boston in time on ice at 3:08 shorthanded, there was a lot of questions surrounding how the league’s top unit would play against a hot Wild team without the Minnesota native who is in a walking boot after blocking a Neil Poink shot.

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For the second straight game, the Bruins were whistled for five minor penalties and were perfect until Oskar Sundqvist scored a third-period power-play goal after a Jake DeBrusk penalty. The best work done by the penalty kill came at the end of the second period and it was a game-changer. With the Bruins leading 3-1, Hampus Lindholm was called for a cross-check, then Dmitry Orlov was assessed a minor for delay of game when his clearing attempt went directly into the stands. Minnesota had a two-man advantage for 1:24 and came away empty-handed, thanks in larger part to Linus Ullmark. A goal at the end of the period in that situation could have changed the outcome, but as it has done all season, the penalty kill stepped up in a close game.

Bergeron, Marchand & DeBrusk Have Huge Game Offensively

It’s been over a year since former coach Bruce Cassidy put Brad Marchand, Patrice Bergeron, and DeBrusk together on the first line and thirteen months later, they are still producing at key times for the Bruins. Trailing 1-0 late in the first period, DeBrusk tied the game when he scored on a wrist shot from the high slot after taking a pass from Bergeron from the boards.

Brad Marchand Patrice Bergeron Boston Bruins
Brad Marchand and Patrice Bergeron, Boston Bruins (Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers)

In the third period after Sundqvist’s power-play goal cut the deficit to 3-2, they regained the Bruins’ two-goal lead with 7:38 left when DeBrusk won a board battle for Marchand who skated behind the Minnesota net and he set up Bergeron for a goal with a one-timer from the slot. Marchand finished with three assists, DeBrusk had a goal on three shots and two blocks and Bergeron had a goal and an assist while going 12-for-21 at the faceoff dot.

Quick Bruins’ Takeaways

  • It was a busy afternoon in the Bruins video room. They got the word out to the Bruins bench to challenge two separate Wild goals and both were called back for offsides. Matt Dumba scored in the first period to give Minnesota a 2-0 lead, but the play was challenged and was taken off the board. In the second period, Matt Boldy scored to tie the game 2-2, but again, it was challenged and was also taken off the board. Those turned out to be two huge challenges that went in the Bruins’ favor.

  • The Bruins finally broke through on the power play in the second period when David Pastrnak scored on their second chance. Their previous power play was as good of two minutes as they have had in a long time. The puck was moving, players were not standing still, and the zone entries were good. It was a positive sign from both units.
  • Ullmark finished with 29 saves, including 11 in the third period when the Wild made one last push. He made eight first-period saves, including a reactionary stop after a shot deflected off of Charlie McAvoy. It was a good bounce-back after following giving up six goals in a 6-3 loss to the Chicago Blackhawks on March 14.

The Bruins end the five-game road trip on Sunday (March 19) with their second trip to play the Buffalo Sabres. What looked like was going to be a tough trip after back-to-back losses have quickly turned into a good trip with two impressive wins against two Western Conference teams currently in playoff position. The last two games have been a good response from the Black and Gold from two regulation losses against two teams that will be on the outside looking in when the playoffs begin.

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