The Boston Bruins are legitimate Stanley Cup contenders. That’s a fact.
Fresh off a rough weekend stretch that saw them lose to the Buffalo Sabres and get mostly outplayed by the New Jersey Devils in a 5-3 win, the B’s responded by playing a full 60-minute game in a 5-2 win over a streaking Calgary Flames team.
Boston jumped out to an early 1-0 lead after Riley Nash scored 28 seconds into the game off a feed from David Backes.
But the Flames, who had won four of their last five coming into the game, were the faster, more physical team in the first period. Calgary scored two goals to end the period leading 2-1, and it could have been worse if not for some stellar play in net from Tuukka Rask.
Boston responded, however.
The B’s were re-energized in the second period, as they outshot the Flames 17-4 in the stanza, and eventually, they broke the seal.
Charlie McAvoy notched his first point since his heart surgery. The Bruins defenseman nabbed a T.J. Brodie clear in the neutral zone and took it right to the net, sliding it to Tim Schaller who dropped it off to Nash for his second goal of the game.
Boston played an almost perfect third period, as Patrice Bergeron scored twice and the B’s controlled the puck for most of the period, keeping it away from the Flames’ dangerous top line.
When the final buzzer had sounded, the Bruins finished with 59.5 percent possession in 5-on-5, as well as a 13-8 edge in high-danger chances and now are just one point back of the Tampa Bay Lightning for the most points in the NHL.
Head coach Bruce Cassidy was pleased with his team’s ability to course correct after the first period Tuesday night.
“I think I’d be kidding myself with Z (Zdeno Chard), Bergy (Bergeron) and (David Krejci) and Backs (David Backes) didn’t have something to say between periods,” Cassidy said, as seen on NESN’s postgame coverage. “I generally don’t say anything until it’s my time to go in there. We talked about what it’s going to take to win, and a couple adjustments. I didn’t think we were good enough in the d-zone, slot area and that front, and some of that was a breakdown of layers, not all on the D. I think we got beat high a couple times we tried to help and it ended up not working out for us.
“And then about winning pucks. And I thought we did a better job of that the last 40 minutes. Listen, we got great character guys in our locker room, they’ve won a lot, won a Stanley Cup. Yes, it’s a lot self-correcting and, of course, we go in and say our two cents.”
Here are more notes from Bruins-Flames:
— Bergeron now has scored 17 goals in his last 19 games.
— The B’s are 20-2-4 in their last 26 games.
— Before the game, the Bruins honored the 1977-78 Bruins team which had an NHL-record 11 players net 20 or more goals.