Charlie McAvoy scored the eventual game-winner on a string of three unanswered goals to open things up before the Boston Bruins held on for a, 4-2, victory over the Calgary Flames Saturday night at Scotiabank Saddledome.
Linus Ullmark (7-4-0, 2.56 goals-against average, .921 save percentage in 11 games played) made 40 saves on 42 shots against in the win for the Bruins.
Flames netminder, Jacob Markström (10-6-5, 1.94 goals-against average, .933 save percentage in 21 games played) turned aside 23 out of 27 shots faced in the loss.
Boston improved to 14-8-2 (30 points) overall and moved into 4th place in the Atlantic Division– one point ahead of the Detroit Red Wings in division standings and one point ahead of the Columbus Blue Jackets for the 2nd wild card position in the Eastern Conference.
For the first time this season, the B’s are in playoff position.
Calgary, meanwhile, fell to 15-7-6 (36 points) on the season, but remained in command of the Pacific Division lead– one point ahead of the Anaheim Ducks.
The Bruins split their regular season series with the Flames 1-1-0 after losing, 4-0, on Nov. 21st at TD Garden and beating Calgary, 4-2, on Saturday night.
Boston was without the services of Jakub Zboril (lower body), Brandon Carlo (lower body) and Tomáš Nosek (non-COVID-19 related illness) among their skaters, while the team continued to be without their head coach, Bruce Cassidy, who remained in the United States for the duration of the Western Canada road trip in the National Hockey League’s COVID-19 protocol.
Acting head coach, Joe Sacco, made one change among his forwards, replacing Karson Kuhlman on the fourth line with Curtis Lazar– a move that would pay dividends in the night’s action.
Kuhlman joined Jack Ahcan as Boston’s pair of healthy scratches in Calgary, while Oskar Steen had been reassigned to the Providence Bruins (AHL) on Thursday.
Midway through the opening frame, Brad Marchand apparently got just enough of a stick hooked around Matthew Tkachuk somehow– replay had shown that it was perhaps another Bruin that committed the infraction and Marchand was mistakenly put in the box, but nonetheless, the Flames went on the night’s first power play at 10:32.
Calgary couldn’t convert on the ensuing skater advantage and, in fact, it was rather short lived as Sean Monahan slashed Lazar at 10:50 of the first period, yielding 4-on-4 action for a span of 1:42 prior to an abbreviated power play for Boston.
The Bruins couldn’t muster anything on their short power play, however.
Late in the period, Connor Clifton (1) pinched in from the point down where a right wing would normally skate and carried the puck into the attacking zone before unloading a wrist shot clean past Markström on the glove side.
Trent Frederic (2) and Anton Blidh (3) recorded the assists on Clifton’s goal as the B’s took a, 1-0, lead at 17:43 of the first period.
Entering the first intermission, Boston carried a, 1-0, lead on the scoreboard despite trailing Calgary, 15-7, in shots on goal.
The Bruins held the advantage in blocked shots (10-1), takeaways (3-2), hits (12-10) and faceoff win percentage (54-46), while both teams managed to amass four giveaways each in the first frame.
The two clubs were also 0/1 on the power play heading into the middle period.
Matt Grzelcyk scored the game-winning goal late in Thursday night’s, 3-2, win in Edmonton, yet received the first penalty of the middle frame in Saturday night’s effort as he hooked Andrew Mangiapane at 1:55 of the second period.
Once again, though, the Flames came up empty on the power play.
Moments later, Boston used their surge in momentum from a successful penalty kill to translate their good fortune on the ice with a goal on the scoreboard.
Marchand passed the puck to David Pastrnak in the neutral zone as the two wingers pushed into the attacking zone, where Pastrnak spun and flung the puck towards the goal as Marchand crashed the net.
Marchand (11) tipped the rubber biscuit over Markström’s glove side and under the crossbar to extend Boston’s lead to, 2-0.
Pastrnak (13) and Patrice Bergeron (12) tallied the assists on Marchand’s goal at 5:52 of the second period.
With the secondary assist, Bergeron (554) surpassed Phil Esposito (553) for sole possession of the fourth-most assists in Bruins franchise history.
By the end of the night, Bergeron would sit at 555 career assists in a Boston uniform– 69 assists behind the man in third place in franchise history, Bobby Orr, with 624.
At 36-years-old and in his 18th season, which also happens to be a contract year for Bergeron, there are no guarantees he’ll move up higher in the list, but for what it’s worth, Ray Bourque leads in all-time assists by a Bruin with 1,111, followed by John Bucyk with 794, then Orr (624) and Bergeron (555).
56 seconds after Marchand gave Boston a two-goal lead, McAvoy (4) extended it to three goals after waltzing into the high slot from the point while Bergeron worked a carom off the glass from the trapezoid off of Marchand’s stick back to the star Bruins defender.
Bergeron (13) and Marchand (16) tallied the assists as the B’s took a, 3-0, lead at 6:48– further solidifying the Boston captain in franchise history.
Moments later, Bldih slashed Oliver Kylington at 11:12 and presented the Flames with another power play opportunity.
This time Calgary didn’t let another skater advantage go by the wayside.
Rasmus Andersson sent a shot attempt towards the net that got knocked down before Tkachuk (12) scooped it up on the doorstep and shoveled the errant puck past Ullmark to put the Flames on the board.
Andersson (14) and Johnny Gaudreau (20) notched the assists on Tkachuk’s power-play goal and Calgary trailed, 3-1, at 12:19 of the second period.
At the very least, Tkachuk scored a goal on his 24th birthday, despite not much else going Calgary’s way for the night.
Late in the period, Marchand cut another rut to the sin bin for slashing Nikita Zadorov at 15:13.
The Flames weren’t able to make Boston’s penalty kill pay for Marchand’s sins as he was freed from the box and the period came to a close shortly thereafter.
Through 40 minutes, the Bruins led, 3-1, on the scoreboard, but trailed, 31-15, in shots on goal and were outshot 2:1 (16-8) by Calgary in the second period alone.
The Flames had also taken a lead in giveaways (8-7) and faceoff win% (55-45), while Boston continued to dominated blocked shots (16-4) and hits (18-17).
Both teams managed to have three takeaways each, while Calgary was 1/4 on the power play and the Bruins were 0/1.
Early in the final frame, Frederic sent a backhand shot to the net that rebounded and bounced around amidst the chaos of bodies in the low slot and crease.
Eventually, Lazar (2) chipped away at it and scored from the front doorstep to make it, 4-1, in favor of the Bruins.
Frederic (3) and Grzelcyk (5) had the assists on the goal at 2:57 of the third period.
Taylor Hall tripped up Christopher Tanev minutes after Lazar’s goal to give the Flames their final power play of the night at 6:20 of the third period, but Calgary couldn’t score on the ensuing advantage.
Instead, Monahan delivered a swift cross check on Jake DeBrusk at 14:18 and was penalized as a result.
Shortly after emerging from the box unscathed, however, Monahan (4) redirected a shot pass from Milan Lucic with his skate blade behind Ullmark at 18:24.
Lucic (4) and Andersson (15) tallied the assists on the goal (which was completely legal, by the way, since you can deflect a puck with your skate as long as it’s not a distinct kicking motion or you’re in the process of coming to a stop) and the Flames trailed, 4-2.
With 1:12 remaining in the action, Calgary’s head coach, Darryl Sutter, pulled Markström for an extra attacker.
After a stoppage in play shortly thereafter, he used his only timeout to rally his skaters.
After Boston iced the puck a couple of times in the final minute, the Flames couldn’t string anything together to make things interesting.
The Bruins had won, 4-2, at the final horn and finished the night trailing Calgary in shots on goal, 42-27, despite a, 12-11, advantage in favor of the B’s in the third period alone.
Boston exited the building leading in blocked shots (21-7) and hits (26-22), while Calgary left Scotiabank Saddledome leading in giveaways (12-9) and faceoff win% (51-49).
The Flames finished the night 1/5 on the power play, while the Bruins went 0/2 on the skater advantage.
The B’s improved to 10-4-0 (6-2-0 on the road) when scoring first, 11-0-0 (7-0-0 on the road) when leading after one and 10-1-0 (7-0-0 on the road) when leading after two periods in 2021-22.
Calgary, meanwhile, fell to 2-4-3 (0-2-3 at home) when allowing the game’s first goal, 0-3-3 (0-1-3 at home) when trailing after the first period and 0-4-1 (0-1-1 at home) when losing after two periods this season.
The Bruins return home after amassing five out of a possible six points (2-0-1) in their Western Canada road trip to host the Vegas Golden Knights next Tuesday (Dec. 14th) before hitting the road again for a three-game road trip against the New York Islanders, Montréal Canadiens and Ottawa Senators.