It was a high-scoring affair Monday night as the Bruins earned a 7-3 win over the Florida Panthers at TD Garden.
Boston moved to 17-0-2 on home ice and 25-4-2 overall and remains atop the NHL standings with two games left before the mandatory Christmas break.
The Bruins jumped out to a 3-0 lead in the first period but allowed the Panthers to crawl back and make it a hockey game when they came within one in the second. But two more goals for the B’s in the middle frame and two more in the third led to the win that included two defensemen scoring to get things going.
Here are four takeaways from the win.
Brandon Carlo gets on the board
Carlo made it 2-0 in the first period and earned his first goal of the season — and his first since April 5 — and made it so every player on the Bruins roster has a goal this year. It was the defenseman’s best game of the year and earned him praise from head coach Jim Montgomery.
“I think he’s been jumping into the right holes offensively, coming out of D-zone, through the neutral zone, and in the offensive zone, especially,” Montgomery told reporters. “And he’s had a lot of opportunities and it was great to see him get rewarded. …”
Carlo also picked up an assist on Charlie Coyle’s goal to add to his strong night that included two blocks and as many hits in 18:40 of ice time.
“I think he’s been awesome (defensively),” Montgomery told reporters. “I think in the last 10-15 games, Brandon Carlo has been playing great hockey. He unfortunately got hurt there early in the year and it took him a couple games to get back into rhythm, but, man, he’s been really, really good for us.”
For Carlo, he’s just trying to have fun while playing hockey.
“I’m just enjoying it. I think that’s kind of where it’s going,” Carlo told reporters. “With the joy comes confidence and calm as well that I’ve definitely felt in my game.”
‘Cliffy Hockey’ no more
Connor Clifton got the scoring started for the Bruins in the first period and finished with 18:09 of ice time. The defenseman earned the nickname “Cliffy Hockey” during his rookie season under Bruce Cassidy. It immediately stuck and every time he laid a big hit on someone, it would be known as “Cliffy Hockey.” But after Monday’s win, both Montgomery and Clifton revealed how they truly felt about the nickname.
“I do not like the term ‘Cliffy Hockey, not from (the media) using it, but from within our room,” Montgomery told reporters. “It’s funny. I spoke to him about it. The way it’s brought up in the room, and the way how it was born, it was born from him maybe being too reckless and ‘Cliffy Hockey’ going on his own page.
“The ‘Cliffy Hockey’ that I see knows very much how the team is playing and is always supporting the structure of the play. And he has the ability because of his instincts to make high-risk-reward plays. (Monday) was the best game in a while, and I’m happy for him.”
Clifton shares the same thoughts.
“We talked about it the other day. We both hate it,” Clifton told reporters. “I never really liked it, honestly. It is what it is. Sometimes you get a nickname, and it sticks. It’s kinda what happened.”
Clifton’s two-point night brought him to 10 points on the season, which tied his career high.
Hampus Linhdolm continues strong season
The Lindholm trade at last year’s deadline looks better by the day. The blueliner has 23 points on the season after amassing two assists Monday night. He’s well on pace to set a new career high, only needing 12 more points to do so. Lindholm is all over the ice, isn’t afraid to make plays and is providing a lot of offensive help.
Bruins have Montgomery’s full trust
As they have several times this season, the Bruins had to overcome getting in their own way in order to win. The Panthers scored three straight goals in under six minutes to make it a 4-3 game and keep Boston on its toes. But Montgomery did not call a timeout. Instead, he trusted the leadership of the team in front of him.
“I think we got a little loose in our game,” Montgomery told reporters. “I think we were playing for offense instead of playing on the right side of pucks. I think if we had a younger team I probably would have called timeout, but the leadership we have, they’re saying the right things on the bench. It’s not like I can call a timeout and say anything better. We’re lucky to have the leaders we have.”
Montgomery made it clear after the Bruins’ Dec. 17 win just how much trust he has in Patrice Bergeron when he told the captain the locker room was his after the head coach felt his messaging wasn’t getting through after the first and second periods against the Columbus Blue Jackets.
“It’s different from any other team I’ve coached before, just because they are great leaders and they know how to win,” Montgomery told reporters. “All the different ways we’ve won, it shows, so I’ve developed the ability to let them control a lot of what’s going on. I let them play through things more than I would other teams. Before I would either get on them verbally or maybe call a timeout. You know the things that you can control as a coach.
“I think from the second goal through the third goal I thought about (a timeout), but the guys were saying the right things on the bench. There wasn’t a sense of panic by the players and our bench, more myself. But there wasn’t a sense of urgency with our play either. But we managed to get out of it and again, found a way. We’re a resilient group.”
Even when it’s seemed impossible at times, the Bruins found ways to win. They have a strong leadership core in Bergeron, Brad Marchand and David Krejci and Montgomery clearly knows what he has in his team.