BOSTON — The Boston Bruins looked like a completely different team against the Washington Capitals than they did Tuesday against the Carolina Hurricanes.
The Bruins got outclassed Tuesday and arguably played their worst game of the season so far as they got blown out by the Hurricanes, 7-1. That wasn’t the team that showed up to TD Garden to take on the Capitals and it clearly showed.
Boston took down the Capitals 4-3 on Thursday night thanks to a game-winner from Charlie McAvoy with 45 seconds remaining, but the game was not as close as they score makes it seem. The Bruins dominated play from puck drop and finished the night outshooting the Capitals 33-17. Boston looked like the better team and even with injuries to Brad Marchand and Anton Blidh more closely resembled the squad they’ve been since the Christmas pause, than the one dud Tuesday.
Boston head coach Bruce Cassidy certainly noticed a difference in the squad in the big win.
“I thought we were ready to play,” Cassidy said “Much more prepared than Tuesday night. Not surprised by the group being ready to go, I thought we had a good and efficient working practice yesterday. I was pleased start to finish. I thought we dug in and played hard. It was a physical game. I thought we were the better team. It took us awhile to get to where we felt comfortable obviously, and even then we didn’t with 40 seconds to go, but clearly thought that we played a very good hockey game today.”
The Bruins knew how bad the loss was to the Hurricanes and came in with the mindset to get back on track and David Pastrnak noticed.
“Today was a big character win for us,” Pastrnak said. “Coming off a tough game the other day it was a good opportunity for us to bounce back and that was our main focus. Washington’s a really good team and we knew it was going to be a good challenge so for us our main focus was to get back to work and obviously get back to a winning streak.”
No team is perfect and there’s going to be a flat game every once in awhile but rather than letting it snowball, Bruins had the perfect response Thursday night.
Here are a few other notes from Thursday’s Bruins-Capitals game:
— Pastrnak has been on another planet of late and after potting two more goals in the Bruins’ win, now has 10 goals over just his last nine games since moving to the second line with Taylor Hall and Erik Haula.
“I think it’s been going well,” Pastrnak said. “We’re getting a little better chemistry with practice. Obviously they’re both high-skill players and they can make plays. We always know what type of player Taylor is. He’s a great skater and has a ton of skill. For us it’s been going well and we want to get better. It’s going to take some time but I think it’s been fun. Hopefully we can keep playing and helping the team win.”
— McAvoy found the perfect time to find light the lamp after not finding the back of the goal over the team’s last six games. The big defenseman took in a feed from Jake DeBrusk with 45 seconds left and lifted Boston to a victory with a wrist shot past Vitek Vanecek.
“He’s a hell of a player,” Pastrnak said. “He gets himself into games no matter if things are going right or not. The first period the puck was bouncing on him a little bit and then he just made a hell of a hit there in the first and from that point on he was just unbelievable I think that’s who he’s become as a player. No matter if he has it that night or doesn’t, he always finds it at some point. Obviously he got a great one for us today.”
— Patrice Bergeron initially was credited with scoring Boston’s third goal of the night in the third period of Thursday’s contest, but after further review the goal was ruled in favor of DeBrusk for his sixth goal of the season.
— Both Marchand and Blidh left the contest after taking gnarly hits, but there wasn’t much of an update on the duo afterward.
“Upper-body. Obviously didn’t return,” Cassidy said about Marchand.
— After a day off Friday, the Bruins will return to action Saturday for an afternoon date with the Winnipeg Jets at TD Garden. All coverage can be found right here on NESN beginning at 2 p.m. ET.