The road to the Stanley Cup will go through Boston after the Bruins claimed the Presidents’ Trophy on Thursday night with a 2-1 overtime win over the Columbus Blue Jackets at TD Garden.
David Pastrnak scored the game-winning goal in the third period, Jakub Lauko and Trent Frederic got into it with their opponent and Tyler Bertuzzi scored on the power play.
In a game that didn’t feature the Bruins’ best game, they still found a way to win.
Here are four takeaways from Thursday’s game.
Don’t hit Patrice Bergeron
One would think after the Montreal Canadiens had to answer Brad Marchand after Rem Pitlick hit Bergeron late in Boston’s eventual win that the captain is off limits. The Blue Jackets clearly didn’t learn because Bergeron took a high stick that left him with a bloody ear that required five stitches. Lane Pederson was given a two-minute minor for the incident. Not long after Bertuzzi potted the game-tying goal did Pederson learn he was going to answer for the hit. Trent Frederic was waiting as soon as Pederson exited the penalty box and Frederic knocked Pederson down with one punch.
“I think it probably should have been a five, but when it’s not … I guess that’s what’s so great about hockey is you get to put it in your own hands,” Frederic told reporters after the game.
Bergeron, who head coach Jim Montgomery revealed postgame that it was the center’s own stick that did the damage, was happy his teammate had his back.
“It’s great. We always say that we’re there for one another, and obviously, it means a lot for him to do that after that play,” Bergeron told reporters. “I like to think that we’re like that for everyone. I feel like we’re a tight group and it’s a pack mentality.
“It’s one of those things where, obviously, it means a lot that he stepped up, but I know he would have done it for anyone else.”
Jakub Lauko making his case
Lauko was back in the lineup for A.J. Greer and certainly made his presence known. He too dropped the gloves, putting up a good back-and-forth with Billy Sweezey. Nick Foligno, who’s on injured reserve with a lower-body injury, was in the NESN booth with Jack Edwards and Andy Brickley, emphatically exclaimed, “Come on, nephew!” as the two deked it out. With the Bruins down 1-0 at the time of the fight, it sparked something in the team, and Lauko has been making his case to be a mainstay in the lineup as the playoffs draw near.
“I hadn’t played much in the first period because we had a lot of PK and PP,” Lauko told reporters. “The start of the second period I just felt like we were kind of flat. It was a great opportunity, great moment, get the guys going, get the crowd going. I think they scored there right after, so I think it paid off. I’m happy that we won.”
Putting Bertuzzi on the power play worked
The power play has been a bit of an Achilles heel for the Bruins of late, but it’s starting to show signs of life. Bertuzzi’s goal was on the man advantage with him on the second unit alongside Pastrnak, Pavel Zacha, David Krejci, Hampus Lindholm and Charlie McAvoy. Montgomery isn’t afraid to switch things up, and at this point, it’s worth trying anything to get the power play going. Even though the B’s went 1-for-5 on opportunities Thursday night, one goal is better than none as they showcased during their loss to the Carolina Hurricanes on Sunday.
“(Bertuzzi’s) really good there. He knows when to screen and when to slide off like he did on the goal,” Montgomery told reporters. “… He’s in those areas constantly and I think that’s why he’s gonna be really important for us when the games get really hard to score. As a team, we’re not scoring right now because we’re not doing that enough as a group — getting to that blue paint.
” … I thought the power play was better (Thursday), lots of positives to build off there. I still think we weren’t as sharp as we normally are. As far as crisp passing, our breakouts were slow, our O-zone was slow. We’re not at our game, and … there’s fatigue that comes in with the numerous games we’ve played.”
It’s understandable the Bruins are dealing with fatigue and there aren’t a whole lot of flaws following them. But they have to be as sharp as possible on the power play when the playoffs begin.
Presidents’ Trophy just another bullet point on Bruins’ résumé
The win solidified Boston’s fourth Presidents’ Trophy and broke the franchise win record. The Bruins have been reaching impressive milestones all season, but the end goal remains the same.
“Of course, you’re proud,” Bergeron told reporters. “It was a lot of games. A lot of hard work. I’m proud of the way we’ve done it by sticking to our process and growing as a team and learning and really playing for each other. That being said, it’s nice, but obviously, you have your eyes set on something bigger. We know there’s a lot of work in front of us.”
Frederic echoed his captain’s sentiments: “It’s awesome to be part of this team. There’s three trophies in this league and we got one of them right now, but the other two are the ones we’re really going for, so it feels good. It feels cool to be a part of a historic franchise and to have your name a part of that and this team is pretty cool.”