The Boston Bruins finished off their five-game road trip before the NHL All-Star break in winning fashion Wednesday night.
Boston entered the contest losers of three straight, and whenever the Toronto Maple Leafs appeared to rally toward extending that streak, the Bruins put their foot on the gas. Pavel Zacha best exemplified that far-from-satisfied approach when he supplied back-to-back insurance goals in the third period while Boston was already ahead 3-2. Third-period struggles haunted Boston throughout the previous cold stretch, however, Zacha delivered two goals in under three minutes en route to a 5-2 Bruins win against the Maple Leafs at Scotiabank Arena.
Zacha noted Boston’s “winning culture,” which is more than suitable for a team that leads the NHL in wins (39) as they’ve done for the entirety of the season’s first half.
“I think we were ready to play a full 60 minutes,” Zacha said, as seen on NESN’s postgame coverage. “I think we’re getting better with the game going on. I think we played better in the third and we’re ready for them and it was a must-win for us before the break.
“I just feel better and better with every game I play with this team and I don’t think I’ve felt better before. I think playing with teammates like I do and everyone’s really good to me in the locker room and everywhere else, all the players are great, everyone wants to win and it’s such a winning culture and it’s great to be part of.”
Bruins head coach Jim Montgomery considered the victory as more than a losing streak snapper, but a way for Boston to rediscover its “identity” and get back on track to the brand of hockey they’ve played all season.
“I think we got back to our identity tonight and that was Bruins hockey,” Montgomery said, as seen on NESN’s postgame coverage. “Our depth, our D-men, the scoring, our fourth line coming through like they did and Charlie Coyle’s line playing unbelievable. It was fun to watch.”
Montgomery credited the Bruins for their avoidance of turning nonchalant when ahead by a goal in the final frame against Toronto.
“We stayed relentless,” Montgomery said. “Trying to add to the lead, not just being comfortable and trying to win a game by one goal.”
Here are more notes from Wednesday’s Bruins-Maple Leafs game:
— Zacha played hero in the final period and his multi-goal performance tallied the sixth goal scored in his last nine games. The Bruins left wing has also recorded four assists with a plus-six rating through that stretch.
— Linus Ullmark, who saved 33 shots and kept Toronto scoreless in the final 8:03 minutes following Zacha’s back-to-back goals, improved his NHL-best 12-3-0 record on the road. In 16 away games, Ullmark has notched a .935 save percentage.
— Derek Forbort, who put Boston ahead to open up the game in the first period, scored his first goal (4) since Jan. 18 against the New York Islanders.
— Boston will enter the NHL All-Star break with a plus-43 third-period goal differential, the best of any team in the league.
“I have the honor of coaching the best team in the league in the first half,” Montgomery said. “That’s why I’m going to the All-Star Game is because of the great players that I coach.”
— The Bruins return to action on Feb. 11 when they host the Washington Capitals at TD Garden with a 3:30 p.m. ET puck drop on ABC. Boston will air live on NESN, along with a full hour of pregame coverage, against the Dallas Stars on Feb. 14 at 8:30 p.m. ET.