The Bruins branded their trademark Spoked-B on the back pages of the NHL record book Friday afternoon at the Garden, boosting their home record to 12-0-0 with a 3-2 overtime win over the Hurricanes that was capped by David Pastrnak’s blistering slapper with 1:14 left in OT.
The win — which also delivered the Bruins a league-best overall mark of 18-3-0 — left the distant sons of Art Ross ranked No. 1 in the record book with the most consecutive home wins at the start of a season in the 100-plus year history of the league.
In a sport that measures greatness by the number of Stanley Cups in a franchise’s trophy case, the Bruins now have 12-0-0 as part of their legacy, along with their half-dozen Cups.
The sellout Garden crowd exploded as Pastrnak, one of the most dynamic scorers since the franchise opened doors 98 years ago, lasered one of his trademark slappers from the left wing circle off Brad Marchand’s feathery feed. After the Bruins fell behind, 2-0, in the first period, Pastrnak’s shot completed a dramatic comeback that also included a pair of strikes (Nos. 7 and 8) by fellow Czech David Krejci.
The afternoon of history-making was somewhat diminished, however, when the Bruins lost No. 1 goalie Linus Ullmark to injury. The Swedish stopper, who entered the matinee with a league-best mark of 13-1-0, was forced to exit in the third period when he was injured in a net-front pileup that saw teammate Connor Clifton land hard across the top of his back.
The Bruins offered little about Ullmark’s condition other than to say he suffered an upper-body injury and his condition will be assessed on a day-to-day basis.
Notwithstanding that significant caveat, it was a Black Friday to remember, punctuated by a pair of bone-rattling hits Charlie McAvoy delivered midway through the second period as the Bruins struggled to chip back on the scoreboard.
On the same shift, McAvoy lowered the boom on Hurricanes forwards Andrei Svechnikov and then Jesperi Kotkaniemi, and what had looked like a potential cakewalk for the ‘Canes suddenly turned into a renewed grudge match from last spring, when Carolina snuffed out the Bruins in Game 7 of their first-round playoff series.
“The Charlie McAvoy hit,” said coach Jim Montgomery, pinpointing the genesis of the turnaround. “I liked the way we started, then we got back on our heels the last 10 minutes of the first and we didn’t get it back until Charlie had that big hit [on Svechnikov].”
With adrenalin stirred, the Bruins came back with the tying goal, 2-2, amid a fire wagon third period, which included losing Ullmark at the 6:57 mark. Less than four minutes later, with Jeremy Swayman in the Boston net, Krejci potted his second for the equalizer — but not without some controversy.
Krejci connected with a long-range wrister, thanks in large part to veteran Nick Foligno providing pressure with a screen at the top of the crease. At first look, the on-ice officials felt Foligno had interfered with goalie Pyotr Kochetkov. Initial call: no goal.
But after a four-minute review, the goal was put on the board, video clearly showing Foligno had been pushed into the goalie by defenseman Brett Pesce.
The Hurricanes jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the first period, the first time this season an opponent posted a two-goal lead on Garden ice.
By the end of two periods, the ‘Canes lead was cut in half, 2-1, on Krejci’s first goal, but the visitors had led for a total of 33:26 and added 10:27 more in the third. In the prior 11 games on home ice, the Bruins had trailed for only 13:12. No team this year had come into the Garden and carried a lead into the third. Stefan Noesen started off the Carolina scoring at 13:26 of the first, the Bruins again scorched by their opponent’s power play. Penalty-killing woes have turned into a troubling theme of late. It was the ninth time in the last 14 PK situations that the Bruins came up short.
The bleeding continued at 15:05 of the first when Kotkaniemi made it 2-0 with a nifty backhand tuck at the base of the left post. The goal again came with the Hurricanes on a power play. Not every serious Cup contender must have a solid, productive power play, but killing penalties is a playoff must. His club down by a goal after 40 minutes, Montgomery called them together during the intermission and told them to seize the moment.
“There’s been a lot of great teams in this league,” Montgomery said, summarizing what he told his charges. “And you’re able to set a precedent, break a record, that’s pretty special. It doesn’t happen if those guys don’t believe in themselves like they do.”
“A helluva point, you know?” said Pastrnak, reflecting on Montgomery’s words at the break. “Me, personally, I didn’t think of it [until] he made the point, so it’s great recognition by him to put it out there after the second and let it sink in for the guys. A lot of guys recognized what was on the table and we got it done.”
Next up: Tampa here Tuesday night. The record book remains open, 12-0-0 and counting.
Kevin Paul Dupont can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.