Boston, MA – The Boston Bruins came into Sunday night’s home game against the Vancouver Canucks struggling to put teams away in the third period. Trailing 2-1 going into the final twenty minutes of play, it looked like it could be more of the same for the hometown team. By the end of regulation, Boston had quite any doubt on this night. Two third-period goals sent the Canucks on their way, and Bruins fans home happy.
An early stumble behind the Bruins net by goalie Linus Ullmark gave the game a brief “Here we go again” feel. Jakub Zboril‘s Interference call at 1:49 didn’t help matters, but Ullmark made a point-blank stop on Bo Horvat seconds into the man advantage. Tanner Pearson put the icing on the cake when he banged in the puck while sliding into Ullmark in the crease. Ullmark was poised to cover the puck, but Nick Foligno inadvertently knocked the puck back into play, where it hit Pearson and deflected in. Brock Boeser and Nils Hoglander assisted Pearson’s third goal of the season.
Anton Blidh tied the game at 1-1 when he gathered the puck, skated through the neutral zone, and then through the Canucks defense before he rifled a shot past Jaroslav Halak at 4:51.
The two teams traded penalties after the halfway mark of the first period. For Vancouver, it was a Holding The Stick call on Conor Garland at 10:14, while the Bruins Tomas Nosek earned a penalty for High-Sticking at 15:44. Halak was tested once on the Bruins power-play but held firm. The Canucks thought they took the lead at 17:23 when Garland unleashed a bomb from just over the blue line that beat Ullmark to the far post. Pearson screened Ullmark on the shot.
The Bruins challenged the goal for offsides. After a quick review by the referee, Pearson was called offsides.
Tyler Motte had a breakaway chance snuffed out by a back-checking Mike Reilly, who timed his dive just right to knock the puck away from Motte.
Garland broke the deadlock at 12:31 when his slapshot from the right circle beat Ullmark through the five-hole. The goal was unassisted as Garland corralled a loose puck to the right of Ullmark before he flung it on the net for the 2-1 lead. Bruins defenseman Zboril lost the puck as he went to turn at the Bruins goal.
Brad Marchand got the crowd and his teammates back into the game with a few big hits on one shift near the end of the second. First, he leveled defenseman Oliver Ekman-Larsson in the neutral zone. Shortly after that, he decked defenseman Tucker Poolman in the Canucks zone.
“The penalties got us into trouble,” said Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy. “The second period started to get away from us a little bit in terms of dictating the play. March (Marchand) went out and had a couple of solid hits, and all of a sudden, Freddie’s (Trent Frederic) finishing a check, and it snowballs a little bit.”
Back-to-back power plays in the third period were what the Bruins needed in this game. Jaroslav Halak had a stellar game against his former club with twenty-four saves in the first two periods. A Tripping call on Hoglander gave the Bruins power-play unit a man advantage at 6:21. It almost worked against Boston as Motte had a second breakaway opportunity in the game. This time Ullmark stonewalled his short-handed attempt to keep the score close.
“That could have been a back-breaker,” said Cassidy if Motte had scored there and then. “That was a huge save. If he doesn’t make that save, I don’t know if we win the game.”
David Pastrnak rang the iron when his one-timer from the right circle beat Halak (39 saves). The Garden crowd cheered as if the Bruins scored. Play continued as players weren’t sure what was going on. Foligno and Patrice Bergeron continued to whack at the puck in the Canucks crease. A scrum in front of Halak and the puck squirted towards Marchand, who buried his shot just from below the left circle to tie the game at 8:45. Foligno and Bergeron assisted Marchand’s ninth goal.
“I thought Pasta (Pastrnak) scored, so I kind of stopped playing for a second,” said Marchand of his equalizer. “Then I saw Folingo whacking away at it. Bergy (Bergeron) the same thing. I just tried to get close to it, and it took a very fortunate bounce to count. It was nice to put that one away.”
A Boarding call on Ekman-Larsson resulted in Blidh leaving the game with an upper-body injury, but the Bruins were in the driver’s seat at 15:23. The Bruins swarmed the Canucks zone looking for the go-ahead goal, and it came at 16:36 when Marchand skated past Kyle Burroughs along the goal line and then cut in front of goal and zipped a pass through the Vancouver crease where Pastrnak tapped in the puck at the side of the net to put Boston up 3-2.
The Bruins would add an empty-net goal in the final minute when Marchand selflessly dished to Bergeron at the top of the crease, but Vancouver challenged the play for offsides, and the referee overturned the score. The Bruins held on for the win and were able to right their ship.
“It’s important. We want to be a team that knows we can win in different situations,” Cassidy said when asked about getting their third-period swagger back. “When you’re down, you got to be able to come back. It was only one goal, but at the end of the day, you got to be confident.”
“It’s not easy to win in this league. I don’t care who you’re playing. You need things to go your way. You need to be at your best,” added the coach. “I think with the make-up of our team; we need everybody going. I don’t think we can have half a team going and expect to win many games. It’s a full team effort for us. Eventually, that’s our goal to get everyone to that place.”
The Canucks travel to Montreal to face the Canadiens on Monday at 7:30 pm EST. Boston hosts the Detroit Red Wings on Tuesday at 7:00 pm EST.