Taylor Hall’s power-play goal late in the third period went on to become the game-winning goal after Charlie McAvoy added a shorthanded empty net insurance goal in a, 4-2, victory for the Boston Bruins over the Winnipeg Jets Friday night at Canada Life Centre.
Linus Ullmark (19-9-2, 2.72 goals-against average, .909 save percentage in 31 games played) made 27 saves on 29 shots against in the win for Boston.
Winnipeg goaltender, Connor Hellebuyck (21-22-9, 2.99 goals-against average, .907 save percentage in 52 games played), turned aside 41 out of 44 shots against in the loss.
The Bruins improved to 38-19-5 (81 points) overall and remained in command of 4th place in the Atlantic Division standings, as well as the first wild card spot in the Eastern Conference.
The Jets, meanwhile, fell to 28-24-10 (66 points) on the season and stuck in 6th place in the Central Division.
With the win on Friday, the B’s swept their regular season series against Winnipeg 2-0-0– just as they had done in 2019-20, when the two clubs last met in the regular season prior to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
Boston was without the services of Jakub Zboril (right ACL), Urho Vaakanainen (undisclosed) and Patrice Bergeron (upper body) on Friday, while head coach, Bruce Cassidy, made a couple minor changes to his lineup prior to puck drop.
Jack Studnicka centered the first line with Brad Marchand and Jake DeBrusk on his wings, while Tomáš Nosek was returned to his usual role as the fourth line center with Curtis Lazar returning to Nosek’s right side and Anton Blidh joining Jack Ahcan in the press box as a healthy scratch.
During the game, however, Cassidy swapped Nosek with Erik Haula– promoting the former to the second line between Hall and David Pastrnak, while relegating Haula to the fourth line with Nick Foligno and Lazar.
Pastrnak, meanwhile, suited up for his 500th career National Hockey League game on Friday.
The 25-year-old failed to record a point against the Jets, but has 233-255–488 totals in 500 career games nevertheless and was Boston’s first round pick (25th overall) in 2014.
Prior to Friday night’s, 4-2, win, the Bruins’ last seven games against Winnipeg were all decided by one goal– with the B’s going 4-2-1 in that span.
Nikolaj Ehlers had a breakaway early in the action that came to an abrupt end thanks to a stick in the way from Mike Reilly, yielding a penalty shot for Ehlers after he was tripped by Reilly at 4:44 of the first period.
The Winnipeg sniper strolled into the attacking zone down the left-center before firing a shot into Ullmark’s pads.
Midway through the period, Matt Grzelcyk caught Paul Stastny with a high stick and presented the Jets with the night’s first power play at 10:13.
Winnipeg failed to convert on the ensuing skater advantage and subsequently presented Boston with their first power play of the night at 14:59 of the first period after Blake Wheeler slashed DeBrusk.
The Bruins did not convert on their first chance on the power play.
Pastrnak shortly made an early exit for the first intermission after appearing to step on the puck while retrieving it in his own zone and awkwardly falling while clutching at his core.
No. 88 in black and gold would return for the middle frame, however.
Entering the first intermission, the Bruins and Jets remained tied, 0-0, despite Boston attainting a, 14-11, advantage in shots on goal.
The B’s also led in blocked shots (8-6), while Winnipeg led in takeaways (6-2), giveaways (2-1), hits (17-6) and faceoff win percentage (58-42).
Both teams were 0/1 on the power play heading into the middle frame.
Marchand and DeBrusk entered the attacking zone early in the second period and played a little pitch and catch on a give-and-go back to Marchand (25) for a layup goal to give Boston a, 1-0, lead at 4:42.
DeBrusk (11) and Studnicka (3) tallied the assists on Marchand’s 344th career goal– tying Cam Neely for the sixth-most goals in Bruins franchise history (Bergeron is fifth with 392 goals and counting thus far).
Marchand also joined Rick Middleton and Johnny Bucyk as the only Bruins in franchise history to record nine 25-goal seasons on the effort.
Less than a few minutes later, Boston’s third line mustered their way to the net as Charlie Coyle drove the puck to the slot before slipping the rubber biscuit over to Trent Frederic for a two-goal lead as Frederic (5) worked the puck around Hellebuyck.
Coyle (20) and Craig Smith (15) had the assists on Frederic’s goal and the B’s took a, 2-0, lead at 7:12 of the second period.
Moments later, Haula didn’t make an effort to stop before colliding with Hellebuyck and cutting a rut to the penalty box with a goaltender interference infraction as a result at 9:37.
Winnipeg failed to convert on the ensuing power play and had another chance on the skater advantage at 13:36 when McAvoy tripped Neal Pionk.
This time, however, the Jets wouldn’t last long on the power play before Pierre-Luc Dubois cross checked Derek Forbort and took a trip to the sin bin at 14:05– resulting in 4-on-4 action for a span of 1:31 before the Bruins had an abbreviated power play that ultimately went by the wayside.
Through 40 minutes of action, however, Boston led, 2-0, on the scoreboard and dominated shots on goal, 36-15, including a, 22-4, advantage for the B’s in the second period alone– their most shots on goal in any second period this season.
Winnipeg led in giveaways (6-4), hits (26-14) and faceoff win% (52-49), while both teams had 11 blocked shots and eight takeaways each.
The Jets were 0/3 on the power play, while the Bruins were 0/2 on the skater advantage heading into the final frame.
Ullmark was no match for Adam Lowry’s (10) deflection on Evgeny Svechnikov’s toe-drag snap shot that cut Boston’s lead in half, 2-1, at 2:29 of the third period and Winnipeg surged with momentum as the Jets came to life to begin the final frame.
Not even two minutes later, Ehlers (17) received a give-and-go from Kyle Connor and blew past Grzelcyk before beating Ullmark and hitting the twine while Brandon Carlo was left helpless as the only defender back.
Connor (35) had the only assist on Ehlers’ goal and the Jets tied the game, 2-2, at 3:54 of the third period as a result.
About a few minutes later, Pastrnak hooked Dubois and was assessed a minor infraction at 6:59, but the Bruins managed to make the kill.
Logan Stanley made a brief appearance in the penalty box for interference at 11:57, but Boston wasn’t able to convert on the resulting power play.
Finally, Brenden Dillon sent the puck over the glass and out of play in his own zone for an automatic delay of game minor at 14:31.
This time the Bruins made quick and easy work of the ensuing skater advantage as Hall (13) followed up on a rebound with a backhand shot past Hellebuyck to give Boston a, 3-2, lead at 15:13 of the third period.
Coyle (21) and McAvoy (32) had the assists on Hall’s power-play goal.
With 1:37 remaining in the action, Jets interim head coach, Dave Lowry, pulled his goaltender for an extra attacker.
What’s more, Haula tripped Andrew Copp at 18:34 of the third period and gave Winnipeg a de facto 6-on-4 advantage once Hellebuyck made another trip out of the crease after the Jets ensured themselves of not losing a faceoff and giving up an easy goal to the Bruins who could not ice the puck given their shorthanded status.
Winnipeg used their timeout to make sure their skaters were all on the same page in their last-ditch effort.
About 30 seconds after Hellebuyck raced to the bench for the second time, McAvoy (8) sealed the deal on a shorthanded empty net goal to give the Bruins a, 4-2, victory at 19:29 of the third period.
Nosek (11) and Coyle (22) had the assists on the goal as all three Boston skaters selflessly tried to do everything they could to let one of their teammates score the insurance goal.
Josh Morrissey had been tripped at the other end of the rink prior to McAvoy’s goal, but there was no penalty called– drawing the ire of both Morrissey and Dubois and resulting in ten-minute misconducts for the two players as something they had said or done in protest crossed the lines for the on-ice officials at 19:29.
At the final horn, Boston had won, 4-2, and finished the night leading in shots on goal, 45-29, despite trailing Winnipeg, 14-9, in shots on net in the third period alone.
The Bruins left Canada Life Centre leading in blocked shots (17-15), giveaways (11-10) and faceoff win% (53-47), while the Jets led in hits (33-19).
Winnipeg finished 0/5 on the power play, while Boston went 1/4 on the skater advantage Friday night.
The B’s improved to 11-5-2 (7-2-1 on the road) when tied after one period, 28-7-2 (16-3-1 on the road) when scoring first and 26-1-3 (16-0-2 on the road) when leading after two periods this season.
The Jets, meanwhile, fell to 13-9-4 (8-6-0 at home) when tied after the first period, 10-18-4 (5-11-2 at home) when allowing the game’s first goal and 4-18-2 (1-11-1 at home) when trailing after the second period in 2021-22.
The Bruins wrap up their four-game road trip (2-1-0) Monday night in Montréal, which also happens to be the same day as the 2022 NHL Trade Deadline (March 21st).
Boston returns home to host the Tampa Bay Lightning on March 24th and begin a five-game homestand to conclude March and start the month of April.
The New York Islanders, Toronto Maple Leafs, New Jersey Devils and Columbus Blue Jackets will visit TD Garden on March 26th, 28th, 31st and April 2nd, respectively.