The last time the Boston Bruins and Winnipeg Jets faced each other, Canada Life Centre was still known as Bell MTS Place and the World Health Organization (WHO) was still a little over a month away from declaring the outbreak of the SARS-CoV-2 virus (also known as COVID-19) a global pandemic.
Seriously, it’s been that long.
722 days since they last played each other to be exact.
Saturday afternoon at TD Garden in Boston, the Bruins beat the Jets, 3-2, courtesy of a game-winning power-play goal for David Pastrnak in a game that had a little bit of everything.
Tuukka Rask (2-1-0, 3.86 goals-against average, .857 save percentage in three games played) made 22 saves on 24 shots against for a .917 SV% in the win for Boston.
Winnipeg goaltender, Connor Hellebuyck (14-12-5, 2.83 goals-against average, .912 save percentage in 31 games played), stopped 29 out of 32 shots faced for a .906 SV% in the loss.
The Bruins improved to 24-12-2 (50 points) overall and– prior to Toronto’s win later Saturday evening– were temporarily one point behind the Toronto Maple Leafs for 3rd place in the Atlantic Division.
Instead, the B’s remain 4th in the division, but in command of the second wild card spot in the Eastern Conference.
Meanwhile, the Jets fell to 17-14-6 (40 points) this season and remain in 6th place in the Central Division. Winnipeg is four points behind the San Jose Sharks for the second wild card spot in the Western Conference.
Though he missed most of Thursday night’s, 4-3, win against the Washington Capitals after sustaining an upper body injury, Brad Marchand took part in warmup and did not skip a beat as Bruce Cassidy made a few minor changes to his lineup.
With Anton Blidh (upper body) fresh out of the action due to an injury against the Capitals, Oskar Steen went back in on the third line with Jake DeBrusk on the opposite wing and Charlie Coyle centering the two.
Meanwhile, Nick Foligno slotted in on the fourth line in Blidh’s usual role at left wing with Tomáš Nosek at center and Curtis Lazar at right wing.
Boston was without the services of Jakub Zboril (right ACL), Trent Frederic (upper body), John Moore (upper body), Mike Reilly (COVID-19 protocol) and Blidh (upper body) on Saturday.
Moore practiced with the team on Friday and is close to returning to the action if Cassidy is to make any changes to his defensive pairings between now and then.
Steven Fogarty and Jesper Frödén were recalled from the Providence Bruins (AHL) ahead of Saturday’s matinée and assigned to the taxi squad with the expectation that Fogarty would make his Boston debut if Marchand wasn’t ready to go.
Looks like Fogarty is waiting to don the Spoked-B in a National Hockey League game another day.
Fogarty and Frödén were joined by Tyler Lewington in the press box on Saturday.
Dominic Toninato dropped a pass back to Jansen Harkins (4), who snuck a shot off of Rask’s arm and under the glove side to give Winnipeg a, 1-0, lead at 2:46 of the first period.
Toninato (3) had the only assist on the goal as the Bruins gave up a goal on their opponents’ first shot of the game for the second consecutive game.
About a few minutes later, Connor Clifton dropped the gloves with Harkins and exchanged fisticuffs in what was Clifton’s second fight of the season and Harkins’ first.
Both players received five-minute fighting majors at 5:19 of the opening frame.
Shortly thereafter, Pierre-Luc Dubois sent Matt Grzelcyk awkwardly into the boards from behind, leaving the Bruins defender struggling to make his way down the tunnel.
Grzelcyk would return for the second period, however.
Midway through the first period, DeBrusk worked the puck deep in the attacking zone and sent a pass to Coyle, who one-touch redirected it over to Steen (2) for a spin, sweep and throw goal.
Coyle (9) and DeBrusk (7) tallied the assists on Steen’s goal as the Bruins tied the game, 1-1, at 11:37.
Almost two minutes later, Brandon Carlo and Austin Poganski exchanged pleasantries behind the Boston net yielding fighting majors in the process at 13:07.
Six seconds after the ensuing faceoff, Derek Forbort caught Dubois with a high stick and cut a rut to the penalty box at 13:13.
Winnipeg wasn’t able to convert on the ensuing skater advantage, however.
Instead, the Jets sustained the pressure as they had been doing virtually the entire period.
Mark Scheifele sent a shot towards the slot that caught a double deflection– first off of his own teammate, Andrew Copp’s, skate and then again off of the skate of Boston defender, Urho Vaakanainen before making its way to the back of the twine.
Copp (11) gave Winnipeg a, 2-1, lead courtesy of being in the right place a the right time and with a little more luck than just that at 19:34 of the first period.
Scheifele (17) had the only assist on the goal as the Jets took a, 2-1, lead on the scoreboard, as well as an, 11-4, advantage in shots on net into the first intermission.
It was the worst offensive output for the Bruins so far this season as they only managed four shots on net in the first period.
That said, the B’s led in blocked shots (4-3), takeaways (5-3) and hits (13-11), while the Jets led in giveaways (4-1).
Both teams split faceoff win percentage, 50-50, while only Winnipeg had witnessed any action on the power play– going 0/1 in the process– entering the middle frame.
Forbort blasted a shot from the point that likely was going for Hellebuyck’s five-hole early in the second period had it not been for Coyle’s (9) excellent hand-eye coordination to tip the puck past the Winnipeg goaltender’s right pad instead.
Forbort (4) had the only assist on Coyle’s goal as the Bruins tied things up, 2-2, at 2:31 of the second period.
A few minutes later, Boston got their first chance on the power play courtesy of an interference minor against Toninato at 5:15, but the B’s were powerless on their first skater advantage of the night.
Nobody else scored and nobody else took a trip to the penalty box for the rest of the second period as the two teams were tied, 2-2, after 40 minutes of action with the Bruins leading in shots on goal, 20-17– rallying for a, 16-6, advantage in shots in the second period alone.
Boston also held the lead in blocked shots (13-9), hits (21-20) and faceoff win% (55-45), while Winnipeg led in takeaways (9-6) and giveaways (8-2).
Both teams were 0/1 on the power play heading into the final frame.
Dubois checked Coyle early in the final frame and popped a pane of glass out behind the Winnipeg net.
The TD Garden “Bull Gang” (rink crew) quickly put it back in place and made the necessary repairs in about 90 seconds before play resumed.
Adam Lowry tripped up Coyle at 2:27 of the third period to the dismay of his father and Jets interim head coach, Dave Lowry– presenting another power play to Boston in the process.
A blocked shot found its way back to the point as Grzelcyk corralled the loose puck as the Bruins established an umbrella setup in the attacking zone.
Grzelcyk worked the puck over to Pastrnak (19) for a one-timer blast from his usual spot at the faceoff circle to give the B’s their first lead of the afternoon, 3-2, at 3:59 of the third period.
Grzelcyk (14) and Marchand (24) had the assists on Pastrnak’s power-play goal that became the game-winning goal on account of the fact that no one else scored afterwards.
Steen cut a rut to the sin bin for catching Dubois with a high stick at 5:19 of the third period, but the Bruins killed off the minor infraction.
Boston stood tall once again on the penalty kill when Rask sent an errant puck over the glass and out of play, yielding an automatic delay of game penalty that was served by Taylor Hall at 8:15.
With 1:49 remaining in regulation and down by a goal, Winnipeg used their timeout to draw up a plan to try to tie the game at the very least and force overtime.
Hellebuyck vacated the crease with 1:34 remaining for an extra attacker, which quickly became a de facto two skater advantage for the Jets as Nosek caught Copp with a high stick and was sent to the box at 18:33.
Winnipeg had a 6-on-4 opportunity, but Boston kept blocking shots mixed in with a few more clutch saves from Rask as time winded down and the final horn sounded.
The Bruins had won, 3-2, and finished the afternoon leading in shots on goal, 32-24– including a, 12-7, advantage in the third period alone.
The B’s left their own building with the advantage in blocked shots (17-13), hits (28-25) and faceoff win% (52-48), while the Jets left Boston holding the advantage in giveaways (9-8).
Winnipeg went 0/4 on the power play, while the Bruins went 1/2 on the skater advantage Saturday afternoon.
Boston improved to 9-7-2 (6-4-1 at home) when allowing the game’s first goal, 4-7-1 (4-4-1 at home) when trailing after one period and 5-2-0 (5-1-0 at home) when tied after two periods this season.
The Jets fell to 12-4-3 (5-3-3 on the road) when scoring first, 6-3-1 (3-2-1 on the road) when leading after the first period and 3-3-5 (3-2-4 on the road) when tied after the second period in 2021-22.
The Bruins (5-1-0) conclude their seven-game homestand against the Anaheim Ducks next Monday before hitting the road for a few games in Colorado next Wednesday (Jan. 26th), Arizona next Friday (Jan. 28th) and Dallas next Sunday (Jan. 30th) to close out the month of January.