BOSTON – Bruins forward Matt Fraser was still all smiles a little more than 12 hours after scoring the biggest goal of his life.
Fraser and the B’s returned to Boston following Thursday night’s overtime win over the Montreal Canadiens in Game 4 of their second-round Stanley Cup playoffs series. Fraser scored the overtime game-winner just 1:19 into the extra session and sent the Bruins home with the series tied 2-2.
The 23-year-old forward, who was recalled before Thursday’s Game 4, was one of the handful of Bruins who didn’t skate in Friday’s optional practice at TD Garden. Fraser admitted to getting a little bit of rest overnight, but he was still working on processing everything that happened the previous night.
“You get in bed and you kind of digest it all when you’re alone,” Fraser said. “You just kind of lay there and you can’t really dream it up a better way.”
The Alberta native said his phone was blowing up with support from family, friends and ex-coaches and teammates, support he called “heart-warming.” However, Fraser is now focusing on building off that memorable playoff debut.
“You don’t want to be a one-hit wonder,” he said. “I think you always envision scoring those goals, but you never think it’s going to be you. I think, for myself, you want to be a guy who wants to contribute every night and bring something to the lineup.”
Fraser will have his next chance to do so Saturday night in Game 5 against the Canadiens. B’s head coach Claude Julien confirmed the seemingly obvious Friday, as he said Fraser would be back in the lineup at TD Garden.
That’s another testament to the hard work Fraser has put in since being acquired from the Dallas Stars in a blockbuster trade last summer. Fraser spent most of the year in Providence, but he also got into 14 regular-season games with the Bruins. His physical talents — including an effective shot and a strong body on the puck — were evident from the get-go. He just needed to hone those skills, which is what he did with the P-Bruins.
“He just had to improve in certain areas, and when guys do that, they see the results and they see what it can do for them,” Julien said. “He has come in here, and for a guy who maybe said he was nervous for the game, he certainly didn’t look it. He seemed poised out there, and I said he made some good strong plays throughout the game.”
Fraser’s contributions certainly did extend beyond the game-winning goal. He fit right in on the Bruins’ third line, which was Boston’s most effective group of Game 4. That experience of playing well, paired with the goal, should give the rugged winger a shot of confidence, which is crucial at this time of the season.
“Scoring a goal like that (helps), but even more so I think it’s finding a little bit of chemistry with those players, it always gives you confidence moving forward,” Fraser said. “Especially in playoffs when a team has confidence, then it’s a dangerous team. You’ve just got to roll with it. It’s only one goal and the series is tied now. We’ve got a whole new day (Saturday).”