In their first game of the 2015-16 regular season, the Boston Bruins lost to the Winnipeg Jets 6-2. They reversed those numbers Thursday night, crushing the Jets and silencing the typically rowdy MTS Centre crowd to kick off a season-long six-game road trip with an emphatic victory.
“I thought we had a really good game,” winger Brad Marchand told reporters after the 6-2 win, as aired on “Bruins Overtime LIVE.” “Not only did we outscore them by a lot, but I thought we just played a very sound game. Whenever they scored a goal to come back, we bounced back. We didn’t panic, and we did a really good job of having a killer instinct in the third period. So, I’m really proud of the club today.”
The “killer instinct” has been lacking in several of the Bruins’ most disheartening losses this season, as teams regularly have been able to erase Boston leads in the final 20 minutes of games. That trend reared its ugly head as recently as last Tuesday, when the Toronto Maple Leafs scored twice in the final nine minutes of regulation and again in overtime to win 4-3 at TD Garden.
The same was not true in Winnipeg, however, as Boston scored the final four goals — including three in the third period — to turn a tight contest into a runaway win.
“It was a little sketchy there at the beginning,” Bruins coach Claude Julien said in a postgame interview with NESN’s Jack Edwards and Andy Brickley, referring to the fact that the Jets were able to erase two one-goal deficits in the opening period. “We talked about minimizing the goals against, and we had already given them two in that first period.
“But we kind of got ourselves back on track here, started making some better decisions, and especially in the third period, I thought we played a real smart period. We had to keep skating, keep putting pucks in deep, keep forechecking those guys and hopefully making them make mistakes. And we were able to capitalize on a few more. But even late there in that third period, it was important for us to shut them down, and all we did was keep chipping pucks out, keep chipping pucks in and playing smart third-period hockey.”
That momentum shift was evident on the shot chart, as well. After being outshot 13-3 to begin the game and 30-12 over the first period-and-a-half, the Bruins limited the Jets to just six shots on goal over the final 30:36.
Some additional notes from Thursday night:
— Brett Connolly tallied a career-high three assists as part of a dominant showing by Boston’s top line. The 23-year-old winger hadn’t collected more than one point in any game this season and had managed just two over his previous 13 games.
— Patrice Bergeron threw fists with former Bruins teammate Blake Wheeler during the second period. It was just the fourth fight of Bergeron’s NHL career and his first since Dec. 21, 2013, and after the center served his five-minute penalty, Julien kept him on the bench for several shifts.
Bergeron went on to score the second of his two goals in his first shift following the extended rest, but he finished with a season-low 14:25 of ice time. After the game, Julien addressed the reasoning behind limiting him.
“With the situation that it was, it was probably better for him to minimize his ice time,” the coach told Edwards and Brickley. “We know how much he plays and how hard he plays, so we just managed his ice time here. Hopefully, that’s just a ding like we’re suspecting, but we’ll see as we move forward here.”
— The Bruins’ next opponent, the Minnesota Wild, suffered yet another loss Thursday night, falling to 4-3 to the Washington Capitals and surrendering a hat trick to Alex Ovechkin. The Wild, who host the B’s on Saturday afternoon, now have lost seven in a row and 12 of their last 13.
Thumbnail photo via Bruce Fedyck/USA TODAY Sports Images
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