The Bruins finally found themselves a little breathing room Saturday night, rolling to a stress-free, easy-like-Sunday-morning 6-1 win over the Flyers at TD Garden, paced by a pair of Brad Marchand goals and two power-play pots by Patrice Bergeron.
The win, backed by Jaroslav Halak (16 saves) in net, was the second in three nights over the Flyers on Causeway Street, where the Bruins fell into a 2-0 deficit in the first 40 minutes on Thursday.
Just days ago, the concern over the newly minted ’21 Bruins was overall lack of scoring, especially at even strength. Then came the accommodating Flyers, the distant sons of the Broad Street Bullies, leaking more holes than one of the Dave “The Hammer” Schultz’s sparring partners in the early ’70s.
The Bruins rolled up four goals in the third period Thursday, and followed with the six-pack two nights later, outscoring the Flyers, 10-3, over only four periods. Three of the six goals Saturday night came at even strength, perhaps sending that narrative to the dustbin of early-season history just ahead of the Penguins arrival here Tuesday for another two-game set over the course of three nights.
One of the more encouraging developments, beyond the overall offense and Flyer TKO, was the emergence of rookie Trent Frederic, who moved to left wing on a new trio with Charlie Coyle and Craig Smith. “Freddy” landed three shots on net, picked up an assist for his first NHL point, and his positioning and patience drew a couple of penalties from the Flyers.
The new line finished the night with a 2-3—5 line, and Frederic, 22, finished with his confidence level all but busting out of the TD Garden’s roof.
“I thought today’s lines looked as good as any day,” said coach Bruce Cassidy. “Obviously, we got Philly at the tail end of a road trip. So we have to be careful, not to put too much into one game, but I liked what I saw out of all the groups — all the lines.
“We said all along, if we have a solid third line, as good as anybody’s in the league, then we’re going to be tough to play against. Because we know what our top two lines can do and what are our expectations are of the fourth line. That’s where we are right now and hopefully we can keep going on it.”
Not stated: The Bruins still await the season debut of top scorer David Pastrnak, recovering from offseason hip surgery.
Marchand’s two goals, his second and third this season, came less than four minutes apart in the third. The other Bruins goals were scored by Smith (his first as a Bruin) and Coyle. Bergeron and Marchand finished with three points apiece and their right winger, Jake DeBrusk, added an assist.
The Bruins scored twice in the second period, with the strikes by Smith and Coyle to move to a 3-1 lead. It was their first two-goal lead of the young season. They finished the night with bountiful lead time (50:35), after cobbling together only 12:55 lead time over their first four games.
Smith’s strike came into an empty net, an easy pot from in front after his initial shot up high deflected right. An alert Coyle, with his back to the slot, set Smith up with a blind backhand feed from near the goal line.
Soon after killing off Philly’s only power play of the first two periods, the Bruins bumped the lead to 3-1 on Coyle’s goal, with a primary assist by Frederic. Coyle’s finish was a one-hand tap past Carter Hart, after Frederic made a sharp, accurate dish off the left wing. He appears to gain more confidence by each pass, check, and shot.
Despite facing each other only 48 hours before, the Bruins and Flyers came out with a polite approach in the first, neither side able to muster a shot on net for the opening eight minutes.
Finally, with 8:09 gone, the Bruins put a shot on net — and it went in. Handed a power play at 7:55 when Mark Friedman went off for hooking, Bergeron lifted home a doorstep backhander after Nick Ritchie deflected in Davd Krejci’s initial shot from above the left wing circle.
Bergeron’s was the only goal in the first period. The Bruins went into the break with an 8-4 shot lead, the Flyers needing until 10:26 for Scott Laughton to land their first shot on Halak.
Hart, the loser in Thursday’s 5-4 shootout, was somewhat of a surprise starter for the Flyers. Speculation leading up to puck drop was that coach Alain Vigneault would go with backup Brian Elliott. When the final horn blew, an irate Hart turned toward his net and smashed his stick to smithereens with repeated hacks across the crossbar.
“I thought we had a great effort tonight, and the last couple of games,” said Marchand. “We definitely outplayed them and we continue to build on our game. Guys are getting comfortable with one another. The young guys are starting to get their groove, feeling very comfortable. And that’s what we need — that young energy, guys fighting for spots, internal competition. It’s pushing all to get better.”