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Bruins 5, Red Wings 1

Bruins sweep away Red Wings with dominant third period

Patrice Bergeron knotted things up late in the first period and the Bruins never looked back.Duane Burleson/Associated Press

Two days into the new year, the Bruins increased their 2022 goal-scoring total to nine with Sunday’s 5-1 matinee thumping of the Red Wings in Detroit, with prior witness-protection candidates, such as Erik Haula, Trent Frederic, and Tomas Nosek, each putting a puck in the net.

A little variety finally seems to be arriving for the Black-and-Gold offense, seemingly forever carried, sometimes to exhaustion, by the No. 1 trio of Brad Marchand, Patrice Bergeron, and David Pastrnak.

Doubtful that anyone soon will push those three off the top of the Boston scoring charts, but a little pop from the rest of the rank-and-file scorers is an encouraging sign for a club that perennially aspires to a long Stanley Cup run, often coming up short because the offense after the big money line has gone penniless.

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Of the nine goals scored in back-to-back wins over Buffalo and Detroit, only one came from the big boys — Bergeron’s 1-1 equalizer vs. the Wings. Otherwise, the net was filled by Haula, Frederic, Nosek, and Charlie McAvoy in Detroit, only a day after Craig Smith, Nick Foligno, Taylor Hall, and Charlie Coyle were the scorers who dispatched the Sabres in a 4-3 OT win at TD Garden.

“I guess the only thing I’d say,” noted Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy, pondering whether his recent line changes proved the difference in scoring, “there might be a little more oxygen in the room for the secondary guys, at times.”

Foligno scored his first of the season on Saturday. Frederic’s goal, off a doorstep sweep of a Mike Reilly rebound for a 4-1 lead in Detroit, was his first this season and only his fifth in 79 NHL games. Haula, for three months a shadow of the player the Bruins believed they were signing as a free agent, scored for only the second time in 27 games. Nosek’s was but his third in Black and Gold.

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Overall, other than the top line, the offense for the first one-third of ‘21-’22 has been one part do nothing and an equal part nothing doing.

Now it looks like it could be something. Maybe.

“I certainly felt we’d score more,” said Cassidy. “We have some guys in the league who’ve proven they can score — some of it’s secondary, obviously, the guys we brought in [including Foligno, Haula, and Nosek] . . . you are starting to see, yes, a product of how we envisioned it. Sometimes it takes a while to sort of bake.”

The lack of goal scoring, has been influenced, in part, by an assortment of injuries and the more recent interruption and resurgence of COVID.

“A little injuries, a little COVID,” noted Cassidy. “Hopefully some of that, or most of it, is behind us and we can stick with the program and see [goal scoring] a little more in the long term.”

After Haula’s goal provided a 2-1 lead in the second period, McAvoy and Frederic scored in a span of just under two minutes in the third period to ice the win. Nosek, who began his NHL career as a free agent signee by the Red Wings, provided the 5-1 insurance at 10:40.

Jeremy Swayman, without a win since Dec. 2, turned back 23 shots to improve to 8-5-2 for the season.

Haula, just seconds out of the penalty box (serving Swayman’s minor for punching Sam Gagner in a net scrum), collected the puck just inside his defensive blue line and bolted up the left side, the Wings helping to clear his runway amid a clumsy line change. The 30-year-old barreled into the left wing circle and sniped his wrister to the top right corner, just beyond the reach of Alex Nedeljkovic’s catching glove.

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Coming out of the COVID/holiday break, Haula was shifted to No. 2 center, paired with Hall and Pastrnak, the latter replaced by Smith on the Marchand-Bergeron trio.

“I was really excited, obviously,” Haula said of his move to a new line. “Two great players, getting the opportunity to play with those two is exciting. A good couple of wins … hopefully we can keep building off that.”

Haula’s strike also ended a stretch of 10-plus periods in which the Bruins failed to produce a working lead. One product of thin scoring, typically, is the constant fight to get ahead on the scoreboard.

Earlier, forced to play catch-up hockey for a fourth game in a row, the Bruins knotted it, 1-1, with a short pop from Bergeron in the low slot at 14:47.

The Wings pushed out to the 1-0 lead with 11:28 gone in the first. Tyler Bertuzzi popped in a gift at the right post after Danny DeKeyser’s wrist shot from atop the right wing circle deflected off Haula and went directly to Bertuzzi.

Haula, with rediscovered speed, nearly boosted the Bruins to a 3-1 lead while killing a penalty late in the second period, breaking in again off the left side and ringing the right post with a doorstep backhander at 16:38.

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If Haula keeps up the pace, and the chances, it could make it hard for Coyle to find a way back to the No. 2 center spot. Haula was moved there out of necessity, with Coyle slotted in the No. 3 hole after returning from COVID protocol.

“It’s a shared responsibility for the coach to divvy up the minutes,” said Cassidy, “and for the players to play well with whoever you’re out there with — and when you get results like tonight everyone feels good. That’s just the way it is.”





Kevin Paul Dupont can be reached at kevin.dupont@globe.com.