The Bruins go into the All-Star break with the NHL’s best record.
Boston defeated the Toronto Maple Leafs on Wednesday night 5-2 at Scotiabank Arena to snap its three-game losing skid.
The Bruins looked much more like themselves and returned to their usual dominant selves in the third period to go into the break on a high note.
Here are four takeaways from Wednesday’s win.
A.J. Greer won’t say no to a fight
Greer not only gave the Bruins a two-goal lead in the third period, he also dropped the gloves with Wayne Simmonds. Greer admitted after the game that the adrenaline from scoring his fifth goal of the season made it easy for him to fight, even if it wasn’t “the best decision.”
“I think it was he asked for it and I just had some adrenaline from the goal I had just scored so I don’t know,” Greer told reporters after the game. “It wasn’t the best decision because we were up 3-1 but it’s hard for me to say no. I’m someone who competes hard and I just want the upper edge all the time.”
This wasn’t the first time Greer and Simmonds got into it, though their first interaction didn’t result in a fight. The two had a heated exchange when the Maple Leafs visited the Bruins in January after Simmonds laid a hit on Patrice Bergeron. This time the two fought it out.
“I didn’t even think twice, I just said, ‘Yeah,'” Greer told reporters. “When I tried to hit him at first, I didn’t get a grip on him so it was hard for me to come back cause he has a long reach. But I protected myself and nothing came from it. … He had that reach against me so it was just a matter of making sure that I was gonna be safe in that situation but I just thought that I couldn’t say no to that just cause of the emotions I was going through.”
Pavel Zacha trade really paying off
Zacha has been a seamless fit since being acquired by the Bruins on the first day of free agency over the summer. The Czech line with him, David Krejci and David Pastrnak can wreak havoc on opponents and even when Zacha was going through his scoring drought, he still was finding ways to contribute to the team. He certainly has made his presence known of late and scored two goals in Wednesday’s win.
“I just feel better and better with every game I play with this team and I don’t think I’ve felt better before,” Zacha told reporters, per The Boston Globe. “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.
Zacha has been on a tear since signing a four-year extension last month, and he’s not showing any signs of slowing down any time soon.
Bruins found their identity
The Bruins looked like they were back to their old ways, specifically in the third period. Time and time again this season, Boston played its best hockey in the final 20 minutes, completing exciting comebacks and being a scoring force. Over the last three games the Bruins at times looked lost and couldn’t keep up with other teams, but head coach Jim Montgomery knew that was about to change.
“I just thought that was the best team effort we’ve had in a while,” Montgomery told reporters after the game. “I don’t think relief was the right word, but it was about us getting back to our standard and team identity. I saw it (Tuesday) in practice. I hadn’t seen us practice with that kind of pace and purpose in a while, and especially the competitive fire that was there. I expected us to be good, and that’s a really good hockey team that we were able to beat on the road (Wednesday).”
Defense helped on offense
Derek Forbort and Brandon Carlo each had a goal Wednesday night. Carlo has had a rough few games during the Bruins’ three-game skid, so for him to be able to contribute in a big way brought the defenseman some relief.
“Those are always nice for me because I’m not a huge goal scorer,” Carlo told reporters after the game. “It definitely adds a little boost of confidence throughout that game. Headed into the break, it will be nice to take a mental break.”
Carlo and the rest of the Bruins don’t return to action until Feb. 11, so they’ll have time to reset and build off a strong first half of the season.