The streak is over. After enduring a three-game losing streak that saw the Boston Bruins drop from second-place in the NHL’s Atlantic Division to ninth-place and out of the playoff picture in the Eastern Conference, the Bruins hosted the Detroit Red Wings at TD Garden and emerged with an overtime 4-3 win.
The victory saw the Bruins (24-21-6) climb out of ninth-place and into third-place in the division standings.They trail second-place Ottawa Senators by three points and lead fourth-place Toronto Maple Leafs by one point.
Brad Marchand scored two goals to lead the Bruins offensively while goaltender Tuukka Rask stopped 23 Red Wings shots. David Pastrnak scored the OT game-winner.
“We did some things (Monday at practice), we clarified a lot of things and there was no way that we were going to let anybody drag us down tonight,” Bruins coach Claude Julien said. “If certain guys wouldn’t have done the job, they would have been watching and I think we were going to go with the guys that wanted to play and show what they had to do. And the guys – to a man – were out there and working hard. So, I think once in a while, when you get tired of losing, you do something about it. And I think tonight our guys had that determination.”
Boston defenseman Kevan Miller, playing in his first game after missing four games with a concussion, got the scoring started with his 1st goal of the season at 3:39 of the first period with a hard wrist shot from the left faceoff circle along the half-boards. Dominic Moore assisted on the goal by winning a battle for the puck in the right corner then passing it across the ice to Miller. It was Miller’s first goal in 42 games (February 28, 2016).
The Bruins were cruising through the period putting 11 shots on goal to the Red Wings zero shots but as the saying goes, “it only takes one” and with Detroit’s first shot on goal 10:59 into the period, Andreas Athanasiou tied the score at 1-1. Niklas Kronwall corralled the puck behind his net and sent it around the boards to defense partner Mike Green, who was stationed along the boards at the hash marks. Green moved the puck to Athanasiou in the middle of the Wings’ zone. The forward received the pass then put on a burst of speed to out-raced Bruins defenseman Brandon Carlo up the ice to close in on Rask on a breakaway. Athanasiou deked backhand, forehand, backhand, forehand then put his shot past Rask’s blocker. It was the 11th goal of the year for Athanasiou.
Marchand would give Boston a 2-1 lead at the 17:34 mark of the period with a power play goal. He began the play by handling the puck in the left faceoff circle in the Detroit end of the ice. He hit Torey Krug at the right point with a cross-ice pass then moved in front of the Red Wing’s net to establish position at the right post. While he maneuvered into this position, Krug sent the puck across the ice to Pastrnak. The Bruins forward moved into the center-point and unleashed a shot that was stopped by Detroit goaltender Jared Coreau. Ryan Spooner was standing directly in front of Coreau and sent the disc back at him but the netminder got his pad on the shot. Marchand pounced on the rebound and deposited it behind Coreau for his 18th lamplighter of the year.
When the period came to a close, Boston carried that lead and a 21-7 advantage in shots into the dressing room.
The second period was anticipated with guarded optimism as the Bruins have had difficulty carrying a strong first period over to the middle period this season and this would be the case in this contest as well.
Detroit was able to get untracked early and Green struck for his ninth goal of the season 6:25 into the period. Henrik Zetterberg came out of a scramble along the left half-wall in the Bruins zone with the puck and immediately passed it across the ice to Green at the point. Green’s slap shot hit Kevan Miller’s skate in front of Rask and deflected past the goaltender’s right pad and into the net tying the score at 2-2.
The Red Wings took a 3-2 lead at 10:51 of the period sending the TD Garden crowd into a cantankerous state. Tomas Tatar collected a Boston turnover at his own blue line, skated into the Bruins zone along the right wing on a two-on-two with Zetterberg. With the Bruins defensemen backing in on Rask, Tatar cut in towards Rask’s net and sent a wrist shot from between the hash marks on the inside of the right faceoff circle that broke off of Rask’s pad before landing in the back of the net. Zetterberg, who forced the Boston turnover, was credited with the assist on the goal.
Despite trailing by a score of 3-2 during the last half of the period, the Bruins continued to carry the play and again, held the edge in shots on goal at the end of the period, 33-16.
The third period saw each club trying to establish dominance with some heavy hits in all three zones of the ice. It worked in Boston’s favor when Marchand scored his second goal of the night, and 19th of the year, 8:20 into the period. Patrice Bergeron carried the puck over the Wings blue line and moved it Marchand, who carried it into the right faceoff circle. Marchand returned the puck to Bergeron in the high slot and the centerman put a wrist shot at Coreau. The goaltender stopped the shot but left a rebound lying at his feet. Bergeron poked at it but it hit Coreau’s stick and squirted to his right where Pastrnak zeroed in on the disc but had it slide past him. Marchand skated out from behind the Detroit net and put a quick backhand through Bruins’ and Red Wings’ legs and into the net tying the score 3-3.
Both squads would get chances to take the lead but the goaltenders made sure the score remained tied for the rest of the period. Boston ended the period with 14 more shots for a three period total of 47. Detroit finished with 24 shots on goal.
Fans have fallen in love with the three-on-three overtime because it has become the most exciting part of the game due to the fast-paced brand of hockey and also because with more open ice, it allows for more creativity from the players and this game would be no different.
The goalkeepers were called upon to face scoring threats at both ends of the ice but Pastrnak ended an 18-game goal scoring drought and the contest with his 20th goal of the season 4:13 into the extra session. It was also the Bruins’ 49th shot of the game.
Carlo began the play in the neutral zone by leaving a drop-pass for Pastrnak at center ice. Pastrnak skated to the left wing before passing to David Krejci on the right wing. While Krejci skated into Red Wings territory, Pastrnak moved into left the faceoff circle then received a return pass from Krejci. Pastrnak one-timed a slap shot over Coreau’s glove hand to win the game for Boston.
After the game, Pastrnak described what his thought process was when he gained control of Carlo’s pass.
“Obviously, get it into Krech’s (David Krejci) hands and I try to get open for him with a bit of speed so I can beat my guy or get in good position for a shot,” Pastrnak said. “Krech is a great playmaker. He saw me, I stopped, and they kind of held back their guy. So, it was a good play.”
“That definitely felt good. Our team, we went in and I think we deserved it today. We were the better team; at least that’s what I think, for most of the game.”
Boston will host the Pittsburgh Penguins Thursday (7:00 pm ET; TVA Sports, NESN, Root, NHL.TV)
Detroit will host the Toronto Maple Leafs Friday (7:00 pm ET; SN, FS-D, NHL.TV)
Follow ESPN New Hampshire’s NHL Writer, Shawn Hutcheon, on Twitter at @ShawnHutcheon.