Merrily they rolled along once again Tuesday night, the won’t-be-beaten-on-home-ice Bruins slapping a 3-1 loss on the Tampa Bay Lightning at the Garden, led by Taylor Hall’s two goals and more of that unremitting Black-and-Gold confidence that now has the rest of the league asking: Can’t these guys be banned in Boston?!
“I think we know it’s there, but it’s not something we focus on,” said coach Jim Montgomery, reflecting on a start-of-the-season league-record streak that has reached 13-0-0 and could stretch into a third month Saturday night when the Colorado Avalanche come to town. “For us, it’s more about our process that allows us to have positive outcomes.”
Through 22 games, just more than one-quarter of the 82-game season, the Bruins are a mesmerizing 19-3-0, tied with New Jersey (also with 38 points at 19-4-0) for the No. 1 spot in the overall standings.
Win No. 13 at the Garden came with Hall delivering the tiebreaker at 2:49 of the third period, an empty-netter by Brad Marchand, and the 27-save backstopping of goalie Jeremy Swayman.
Again, for a 10th time in that 13–game streak that began with the first home game Oct. 15, the Bruins did not allow their visitors a single second of lead time. In those 13 games, the Bruins have led for a total 455:38 and trailed for only 57:15.
Once was the time, in the 1960s, ‘70s and ‘80s when the muscled-up Big Bad Bruins had brawn and bare knuckles as their hometown trademark. Under Montgomery’s tutelage, they often tack up an early goal — Hall’s first came only 1:07 into the first — and then proceed to own the clock like 20 fine Swiss watchmakers.
“I don’t know if synchronicity is the right word,” said Montgomery. “But we’re together in how we think things should work and we believe in the process. And I think everyone in the room believes in that process.”
Hall’s first goal, a tip on a long wrister by Brandon Carlo, kicked it off just over a minute into the game. The Lightning, who played the night before in Buffalo, needed until 18:20 of the second before Steven Stamkos squared it with a David Pastrnak-like one-timer from the left wing circle dot on the power play.
Hall, the one-time league MVP now in a third-line role, rapped home the winner on the man advantage from the slot early in the third. After a protracted scrum on the right half-wall, a pass found an isolated Hampus Lindholm near the center point. Lindholm then passed low in the slot, where Nick Foligno took control, carried toward the left post, then served out the perfect feed for Hall to put down the hammer.
“A great play — the second time he’s done that this year,” said Hall, crediting Foligno for the setup. “It’s just about following up to the net. Fliggy has real good hands around the net — he’s not going to panic.”
Swayman, now 5-2-0, made a couple of key back-to-back stops in the third period, one off Brayden Point and one off Ian Cole in the 14th minute, preventing Tampa Bay from knotting it once more. Finally, with 41 seconds to go, Marchand potted the empty-netter.
Hall produced 61 points last season and at 8-7–15 this year is on pace for roughly the same. But these last few games he has looked his best all season, getting more comfortable on the third line with Charlie Coyle as his pivot.
A pair of goals from the bottom six is every coach’s dream.
“I was really impressed … in New Jersey the season after he was MVP that I first coached in the league,” said Montgomery, thinking back to 2018-19. “I was really impressed with his pace and purpose and the way he went about things. You could tell he was an elite player. Coming here, I was excited to work with him because he’s older now, the maturity in his game. And what’s important to him now is winning. He wants to win a [Stanley] Cup. He wants to be in a dressing room that values winning, that has that pedigree — and I think it shows in the way he’s playing.”
Montgomery’s system, fitting Hall better and better, suits the big wing because it’s based on shot quality rather than volume.
“It took a few games for me personally to get out of the habits of pucks to the net, shoot from everywhere, never a bad play to put it on net,” said Hall. “Monty’s made a few adjustments in our game — we want to control pucks. I feel more comfortable with that. I’ve gotten better at that.”
Montgomery, pondering his use of the word synchronicity as he left the postgame presser, stopped just before he exited the media area on the third floor.
“Not synchronicity,” said Montgomery. “The word I wanted was synergy!”
Give ‘em synergy, or give ‘em synchronicity. Whatever the word, it’s working like a clock, like it’s never worked before.
Kevin Paul Dupont can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.