Among the things the Boston Bruins needed as they turned from the round-robin tournament to the playoffs was the resurgence of their top line.
Safe to say a vintage Patrice Bergeron game-winner is as good an indication as any that they’re on the path to being “back.”
Bergeron provided the dagger in Boston’s 4-3 double-overtime victory against the Carolina Hurricanes on Wednesday in Game 1 of their first-round Stanley Cup Playoffs series. But it was the effort of most everyone on the ice that made the goal happen.
A Brandon Carlo blocked shot allowed the Bruins to get a breakout going. Brad Marchand gained the offensive zone on the left wing, then passed it over to David Pastrnak, who was centering the line on the rush. Pastrnak quickly hit Bergeron on the right, and Bergeron went far post on Carolina goalie Petr Mrazek, who overcommitted as he went from post to post.
And Bergeron’s goal came after a tally from Pastrnak where, you guessed it, Bergeron and Marchand had the assists.
We saw last year that the top unit going completely silent is a recipe for a playoff exit for the Bruins. On Wednesday, that didn’t seem like much of a worry.
And for head coach Bruce Cassidy, he’s not relieved.
“Relief is not the right word in my estimation. These guys are battle tested,” Cassidy said following the game over Zoom. Certainly Bergy and Marchy, Pasta has been through it — not as much as those guys. We?ve got a lot of trust in those guys. We have discussions. Where is your game at?
“Overtime is them. The faceoff play was them. They missed a little bit of that in the round robin,” Cassidy later continued. “Tonight, they know that there is a little more at stake as well. Put those two things together, those two factors together and we knew they?d be there and competing. And competing at a high level. And when they do that, they?re so talented and smart that they know things are going to happen for them and they did.”
“We were confident. We?re a confident group, confident line. I think we got better as we went on in the round robin,” Bergeron said. “Obviously you want more, you want to keep getting better and taking the next step, especially we thought that tonight was a really important game, starting round one, so we had to put whatever was behind us in the past and get some rhythm going.”
Of course, stringing together a few solid performances is the key here, but Boston’s top group of forwards took a step in the right direction.
Here are some other notes from Wednesday’s Hurricanes-Bruins game:
— Speaking of lines that needed to get going and did, the Bruins’ second trio of Jake DeBrusk, David Krejci and Ondrej Kase showed plenty of life.
Krejci scored Boston’s second goal off a nice play by Kase that allowed him to get a puck to the net, and even DeBrusk had arguably the best chance of the game, but missed the net — prompting him to break his stick on the bench.
The plan long has been for those three to skate on a line together and figure things out, and on Wednesday it looked like they did.
“If they can do that every night, we?re going to be a very dangerous hockey club,” Cassidy said.
— Tuukka Rask turned away 25 of the 28 shots he saw, and there’s a couple he might want to have back.
It looked like Rask had a good enough sightline on Joel Edmundson’s opening goal. And though there was some traffic on Haydn Fleury’s game-tying tally in the third, it seemed like an attempt Rask probably could’ve had.
And with the netminder playing the entire game and the Bruins now set to play again Thursday evening, it led to some wonder about if Jaroslav Halak would get the call for Game 2.
At the moment, a decision has not been made.
— Wednesday’s game was the second double overtime finish for the Bruins with Bruce Cassidy as the head coach.
The first was the famous Sean Kuraly double-OT winner against the Ottawa Senators in Game 5 of the 2017 round, and the other was Boston’s loss to the Columbus Blue Jackets in Game 2 of the second round last season.