Sean Kuraly fought up a weight class Sunday night, and it shifted the momentum of the game.
During the second period of the Boston Bruins’ meeting with Ottawa, Kuraly got into it with Senators defenseman Ben Harpur.
It was an admirable, albeit somewhat surprising move, as the 6-foot-2, 213-pound Kuraly was no match for Harpur, who checks in at 6-foot-6, 222-pounds. Harpur won the bout fairly easily, bloodying up Kuraly’s face, which forced him to go into the dressing room to get fixed up before returning to action.
But Harpur was hit with an instigator penalty in the process, presumably because Harpur began engaging the B’s center right before he had his gloves off. Down 1-0 at the start of the penalty, the Bruins cashed in less than a minute into the man advantage, tying the game on a Brad Marchand goal.
The Bruins ultimately won 2-1 in overtime on a Torey Krug goal, but it was after the Kuraly-Harpur tilt that Boston really took control. They outshot the Sens 14-4 in the final period, and controlled the offensive opportunities in overtime even before Krug’s goal.
After the game, Kuraly’s head coach and teammates praised the 25-year-old, who also was looking for a fight in the Bruins’ 6-3 win over the Toronto Maple Leafs on Saturday.
“Yeah, well listen I know that there’s been a lot of talk lately — even throughout the whole NHL — around Boston about the need for enforcers and toughness,” Bruce Cassidy told Jack Edwards and Andy Brickley, as seen on NESN’s postgame coverage. “And listen I think our team has a lot of team toughness, it’s just worked out a few of our smaller guys, we talked about it, arrive at the scene of the crime first. But we always go to bat for one another, and I think Sean, I’m not sure how it started over there, but our guys are willing to go. So it’s a credit to him, and like you said he grabbed the extra two and we made them pay the price.”
Added Krug to NESN’s Alex Kraemer: “Lot of credit to Sean Kuraly, he hung in there with the big guy, drew a penalty and obviously his face shows the battle that he went through and we were able to capitalize on that. So great job by him, and luckily we came through and won the game for him.”
Here are some other notes from Sunday’s Bruins-Senators game:
— David Krejci has been finding his form lately, and it appears part of it is due to a change of scenery.
The center provided the assist on Krug’s goal, somehow sliding a deft pass right across the crease to find the defenseman. His one point comes on the heels of a one goal, one assist showing against the Leafs and one-goal performance in Thursday’s loss to the Tampa Bay Lightning.
Prior to Saturday’s game, Cassidy bumped Krejci up to the top line between Marchand and David Pastrnak. Krejci, someone who long has played his best when he doesn’t need to be his line’s primary goal-scorer, has looked at home between the two.
While the Bruins wait for Patrice Bergeron to get a clean bill of health, Krejci seems like the logical fit in that role going forward.
— Marchand scored the game-tying goal in the second period and provided the assist on the winner as he continued to give the Sens fits this season.
In three meetings this campaign, Marchand is slashing 1-5-6 with 13 shots against Ottawa, also posting a plus-five rating. Nine of those 13 shots came Sunday.
— The Bruins could put themselves in third place in the Atlantic Division on Tuesday.
With Sunday’s win, the B’s now have 36 points in 30 games, trailing the third-place Buffalo Sabres who have 38 points in 30 games. With both teams playing games Tuesday, a win for the Bruins and a Sabres loss would give the B’s the upper hand, as they currently lead in the ROW tiebreaker 15-14.