BOSTON — The Boston Bruins did not find themselves in an ideal situation early on in Saturday’s game against the Montreal Canadiens.
Top pairing defenseman Charlie McAvoy sustained a lower body injury just 37 seconds into the game, not only leaving the Bruins without one of their top defensemen but with just five defensemen altogether for the rest of the game.
But the setback proved to be a test of resilience and adaptability en route to a 2-1 overtime win at TD Garden.
With a far heavier workload, it certainly was an added challenge to keep from breaking down. And despite a giveaway by Kevan Miller in the first period that led to Montreal’s lone goal, they did just that, finding ways to contribute and back each other up.
Newcomer Nick Holden — playing in just his second game with the Bruins — was among them. Logging 21:52 ice time overall, he fit in well during his 3:45 on the power play, sending a puck toward the net that was tipped in by Jake DeBrusk on the man-advantage to tie the game and force overtime.
But the nature of the defenseman who have been in Boston for the duration as this season has been adaptability. McAvoy was out for two weeks earlier in the season, so the territory they were in — although less than ideal — wasn’t foreign.
For second-year blue-liner Brandon Carlo, his experience playing alongside Zdeno Chara helped keep things somewhat seamless when the two had to skate together once again.
“The chemistry that we had last year I feel like pretty much clicks in right away,” Carlo said. “It’s unfortunate when Charlie can’t come back into the game, he’s a big part of it, especially so early it makes it a hard game having five D that whole time. Overall we just continued to work hard and go from there.”
But McAvoy’s absence still was felt. As one of the better puck-moving defenseman on the team, the Bruins had their struggles at times getting the puck out of their own zone, as evidenced by Miller’s giveaway that led to Brendan Gallagher’s goal.
“Clearly we had some issues moving the puck out of our zone,” head coach Bruce Cassidy said following the game. “Charlie’s a transporter, he’s a mover, a passer, all of the above. Offensive zone he can create some space, get some shots through, make some plays. And that wears on you from the opening shift defending.
“That’s 23 minutes a night that you’ve got to parcel out now for 59 minutes through five guys. So I think some of our pinches were a little bit late because maybe we were fatigued, allowed a few more odd-man rushes than we’d like. But I think for the most part it was that puck-moving first pass that we missed.”
Cassidy did not get a great look at the injury when it was sustained and couldn’t offer much about McAvoy’s status following the game other than it didn’t look serious and he hoped it wasn’t serious. The team has a scheduled off day Sunday and will practice again Monday.
Here are some other notes from Bruins-Canadiens:
— Holden and Brian Gionta both were making their second appearance in a Bruins sweater Saturday, and both got themselves on the scoresheet again with an assist.
— Although it was a low-scoring affair compared to Saturday’s 8-4 win, the Bruins still peppered a season-high 50 shots on net. That total is the highest since they had the same amount against the New York Islanders on Dec. 20, 2016.
— The Bruins swept the four-game season series against the Canadiens with Saturday’s win. Such success against the Habs has been decades in the making, with the last such instance coming in the 1994-95 season.
Thumbnail photo via Bob DeChiara/USA TODAY Sports Images