After giving up two quick goals in the first period, the Boston Bruins came back to defeat the Calgary Flames, 4-3, on Friday night at Scotiabank Saddledome.
Jaroslav Halak (16-6-6 record, 2.33 goals against average, .920 save percentage in 28 games played) made 18 saves on 21 shots against for an .857 SV% in the win.
Flames goaltender, Cam Talbot (9-10-1, 2.83 GAA, .914 SV% in 23 games played) stopped 19 out of 23 shots faced for an .826 SV% in the loss.
The Bruins improved to 39-11-12 (90 points) on the season and remain in 1st place in the Atlantic Division, while Calgary fell to 31-25-6 (68 points) and remained in 4th place in the Pacific Division.
Boston also improved to 18-9-3 on the road this season with the victory and the B’s have now won 11 out of their last 12 games.
For just the seventh time in NHL history, a team that gave up three goals in the opening four minutes of a game came back to win as Calgary scored three goals in a little over three minutes into Friday’s action, but lost.
The Bruins were without the services of Kevan Miller (knee) on Friday, while Connor Clifton (upper body) is still with the Providence Bruins (AHL) on a conditioning stint.
B’s head coach, Bruce Cassidy, made a few minor changes to his lineup from Wednesday night’s, 2-1, overtime win in Edmonton– swapping Danton Heinen and Karson Kuhlman on the second and third line right wings (reuniting Heinen with Jake DeBrusk and David Krejci and Kuhlman with Anders Bjork and Charlie Coyle in the process).
Cassidy also re-inserted Anton Blidh on the fourth line left wing while scratching Joakim Nordstrom in the process.
Earlier in the day on Friday, Boston General Manager, Don Sweeney, made a trade with Anaheim Ducks GM, Bob Murray– sending David Backes, defensive prospect, Axel Andersson and Boston’s 2020 1st round pick to the Ducks for Ondrej Kase.
Boston retained 25% of Backes’ contract ($1.500 million through the 2020-21 season) in the transaction. Kase won’t join the team until Monday, when the Bruins are back from their current road trip and back to practice at Warrior Ice Arena.
Kase has not played since Feb. 7th with “flu-like symptoms”, but resumed skating on Thursday with the Ducks (prior to being traded on Friday).
Meanwhile, Nordstrom, Par Lindholm and John Moore served as healthy scratches for the Bruins on Friday.
Calgary charged into the attacking zone and fired a shot off the post in the opening seconds of Friday night’s action.
The puck rebounded right to the blade of Mikael Backlund (11), who promptly shot the puck past Halak as the Bruins netminder was committed to the initial shot off the iron and couldn’t recover in time.
Rasmus Andersson (15) and Noah Hanifin (14) had the assists on Backlund’s first goal of the game 20 seconds into the first period and the Flames had the game’s first lead, 1-0.
About two minutes later, Backlund (12) scored again on a one-timer as a result of a saucer pass from Tobias Rieder on a two-on-one break with Zdeno Chara as the lone defender for Boston.
Rieder (6) and Matthew Tkachuk (31) tallied the assists on Backlund’s second goal of the game and Calgary jumped out to a, 2-0, lead at 2:24 of the first period.
Not to be outdone, Patrice Bergeron (28) responded quickly after a shot from the point was deflected wide and caromed off the end boards to Bergeron in the slot for the backhand goal 24 seconds after the Flames extended their lead to two-goals.
David Pastrnak (42) and Charlie McAvoy (22) notched the assists on Bergeron’s first goal of the night as the B’s cut Calgary’s lead in half, 2-1, at 2:58 of the first period.
Less than a minute later, Johnny Gaudreau (15) beat Halak with a backhand shot and put the Flames back in command of a two-goal lead.
Elias Lindholm (22) had the only assist on Gaudreau’s goal at 3:23 and Calgary led, 3-1.
Then for a short period of time (less than three minutes) neither team scored a goal.
But Bergeron wasn’t done scoring for the night as the lively boards at Scotiabank Saddledome worked in his favor once more and Bergeron (29) pocketed his second goal of the night on Talbot to pull the B’s within one-goal once more.
Pastrnak (43) and Brad Marchand (53) were credited with the assists on Bergeron’s second goal and the Bruins trailed, 3-2, at 6:12 of the first period.
Less than 30 seconds after the ensuing faceoff after Bergeron’s goal, Matt Grzelcyk leveled Rieder with a huge hit in the neutral zone, but was dealt a minor infraction for elbowing– yielding the first power play of the game to the Flames at 6:33.
Calgary didn’t convert on their first power play opportunity of the night.
Midway through the opening frame, Kuhlman sent Coyle into the attacking zone on a breakaway, whereby Coyle (15) deked backhand to forehand and wired a shot over Talbot’s glove to tie the game, 3-3, at 12:20 of the first period.
Kuhlman (5) and Bjork (10) tallied the assists on Coyle’s goal as the tow teams entered the first intermission deadlocked, 3-3, on the scoreboard, despite Boston leading in shots on goal, 12-6.
The Bruins also held the advantage in blocked shots (7-2) and faceoff win percentage (62-38), while the Flames led in giveaways (6-3) and hits (7-6).
Both teams had one takeaway aside, while Calgary was 0/1 on the power play. Boston did not see any time on the skater advantage in the entire game.
Less than a minute into the middle frame, Marchand (24) redirected a shot from Brandon Carlo and gave Boston their first lead of the night, 4-3, at 52 seconds of the second period.
Carlo (14) and Torey Krug (33) had the assists on Marchand’s goal and both teams combined for seven goals in the game in the first 21 minutes of action.
Nobody scored again for the rest of the night, however.
Midway through the second period, Jeremy Lauzon dropped the gloves with Tkachuk and the two players were sent to the box with fighting majors at 10:17 of the middle frame.
It was the 14th fight this season for Boston and the first career fighting major for the rookie Bruins defender, Lauzon.
Through 40 minutes of play in Calgary, the B’s led the Flames, 4-3, on the scoreboard and, 17-11, in shots on goal.
Boston also held the advantage in blocked shots (12-6) and giveaways (9-8), while Calgary held the advantage in takeaways (5-4) and faceoff win% (55-45).
Both teams had 16 hits aside and the Flames were still 0/1 on the power play.
Early in the final frame, Bergeron tripped up Derek Ryan and was assessed a minor infraction at 5:55 of the third period.
Calgary didn’t score on the ensuing power play.
There were no goals and no more penalties scored in the final frame of regulation as both teams swapped chances and both goaltenders found their rhythm.
Flames interim head coach, Geoff Ward, pulled Talbot for an extra attacker with about a minute left in the game, but it was to no avail as the Bruins won, 4-3, at the final horn.
Boston finished Friday night’s effort leading in shots on goal (23-21), blocked shots (19-9), while Calgary ended the night leading in hits (22-20) and faceoff win% (54-46).
Both teams had 11 giveaways each and the Flames ended the night 0/2 on the power play.
The Bruins have now won 11 out of their last 12 games and improved to 11-2-6 when tied after one period and 24-1-6 when leading after two periods this season.
Boston also improved to 16-4-4 when allowing the game’s first goal this season, while Calgary fell to 17-7-3 when scoring the game’s first goal this season.
The Flames also fell to 10-10-2 when tied after one period and 7-24-2 when trailing after two periods this season.
Boston wraps up their four-game road trip (3-0-0) on Saturday against the Vancouver Canucks.
The B’s return home for a two-game homestand on Feb. 25th and Feb. 27th for meetings with the Flames and Dallas Stars, respectively, before wrapping up the month of February with a road game against the New York Islanders on Feb. 29th.