BOSTON — After earning the Bruins’ backup goalie job, Jonas Gustavsson had to wait more than a month and a half before starting his first game in front of his new home fans. When he finally did, he did not disappoint.
Gustavsson turned aside 21 of the 23 shots he faced Thursday night and helped hold the Minnesota Wild scoreless on three power plays as the Bruins won 4-2 at TD Garden.
“It was a great game from the start,” the 30-year-old said. “I don’t think we had any bad periods. Actually, we played pretty solid the whole game.”
Gustavsson has been everything the Bruins could have asked for in a No. 2 netminder, winning four of the five games he’s started. His play has been especially encouraging given the struggles of last season, when Boston’s inability to find any sort consistency from backup Niklas Svedberg forced Tuukka Rask to see action in a career-high 70 games.
“Jonas has given us some great games, as you saw (Thursday night) again,” head coach Claude Julien said. “And hopefully we can ride those two goaltenders for the whole season, and have them as fresh as possible and as healthful as possible.”
Some additional notes from Thursday’s win:
— Matt Beleskey set the physical tone for the Bruins. He hit everything that moved, dropped the gloves for the first time this season and used his energy to generate multiple scoring chances.
Following Tuesday’s sluggish and unfocused loss to the San Jose Sharks, Beleskey said his team knew it had to dial up the intensity.
“We all want to be better than last game and bring that compete up in front of the home fans,” the winger said. “We’ve got to get some wins here. If I could help by doing that, that’s what I was trying to do.”
Beleskey’s aggressiveness might have gotten the best of him in the game’s final moments, when a slash to the back of Jason Zucker’s knee caused the Wild winger to crumple in a heap on the ice.
Minnesota coach Mike Yeo did not offer a postgame update on Zucker, who had to be helped off by team trainers. Beleskey copped to the slash but said he did not intend to injure.
“I didn’t think it was that bad,” he said. “I did slash him, but it wasn’t … I didn’t try to break his leg. I don’t think it did, either. Hopefully he’s all right.”
— Speaking of injuries, Bruins winger Frank Vatrano left the game in the second period and did not return after being hit hard into the boards by Wild defenseman Nate Prosser.
Like Yeo, Julien could not offer much after the game regarding Vatrano’s condition.
“I’m going to tell you the old same line: upper body (injury),” the coach said. “It happens. I don’t check how severe this and that, and I guess the organization has taken the initiative of releasing more. So, you’re not going to get much out of me, unfortunately.”
— The Bruins made morning skate optional Thursday for the second time in as many games. While most players opted to stay off the ice, winger Tyler Randell, defenseman Joe Morrow and goalies Tuukka Rask and Gustavsson chose to get some extra work in.
“I like to go out there and get my legs going,” Randell said after the session. “… Some guys like to stay off and stretch out and rest for the game, but I went out there, got Gus some work, took some shots, worked with Mo and Tuukka. It’s good to get out there. I like getting my legs going before a game.”
— The Garden was a familiar setting for two Wild players: center Charlie Coyle, who grew up in Weymouth, Mass., and played his college hockey at Boston University, and defenseman Christian Folin, who helped lead UMass Lowell to back-to-back Hockey East championships — including the first in school history — in 2013 and 2014.
Folin reached out to the River Hawks faithful on Twitter before the game, and he sat down with Wild.com to recall some of his fondest Garden memories.
— In news NHL players should appreciate, the league and the NHLPA have a plan in place that would give each team a “five-day bye week” beginning next season, a source told ESPN.com’s Pierre LeBrun. The exact week will differ from team to team, but all reportedly will come between Jan. 1 and Feb. 28.
Read more about the reported schedule change here.
— Former Bruins winger Milan Lucic, now with the Los Angeles Kings, recently sat down for an interview with TSN’s Frank Seravalli. It’s worth a read for B’s fans.
Thumbnail photo via Greg M. Cooper/USA TODAY Sports Images
Thumbnail photo via Boston Bruins goalie Jonas Gustavsson