The Bruins kept up their Causeway crushing ways Sunday night at TD Garden, easily dismissing the San Jose Sharks, 4-0, led again by a pair of goals from their nouveau goal-hungry defensive corps, including a chef’s-kiss-worthy strike by Charlie McAvoy in the middle period.
The win, their fifth in a row overall, lifted the Bruins to an astounding 22-1-3 mark on home ice and added to their league-leading position atop the overall standings (78 points through 46 games).
Once was the time, in the beloved old Garden, when the Bruins intimidated visitors with their small sheet of ice and their love of fisticuffs. Before the visiting team barely could unpack its bags, the Bruins often had a goal up on the board and a five-minute fighting major in the books.
In 2022-23, it’s that 22-1-3 record that has clubs like the Sharks all but pinned with an “L” before puck drop.
“We’ve said that we’re going to get every team’s best,” said Nick Foligno, who potted his seventh of the season, tipping home a Hampus Lindholm shot for the 3-0 knockout punch midway through the second. “We’re expecting that. It’s a compliment to what we’re doing here — the type of team we are. If you’re a good team, you are going to get every team’s best. We like that. We like what it does for our group, how it engages us right away.”
The win included goals by Lindholm, Foligno, David Pastrnak, and McAvoy, and boosted the Black-and-Gold’s league-leading record to 37-5-4. The Bruins are on track to collect 100 points faster than any team in NHL history.
Linus Ullmark recorded the shutout (*), boosting his league-best mark to 25-2-1 (one win fewer than he recorded all last season), needing to turn away only 17 shots from San Jose’s sputtering popgun offense.
As for the asterisk: Ullmark had to exit the ice for 2:28 in the third period when one of his skate blades slipped out, forcing him to exit to the Bruins bench for repair. Jeremy Swayman made one save in his absence, helping to preserve Ullmark’s third shutout of the season.
The blown blade was a new experience for Ullmark, the leading candidate to be the Vezina winner this year at the game’s top stopper.
“I have no idea,” said Ullmark, when asked what happened. “I had a skate issue before the game, but we took care of that. [The blade] shouldn’t come out. I think it was a bolt, or something that broke down.”
The Bruins, who move on to Montreal for their first game of the season against the Canadiens (Tuesday night), have gone 16-1-3 in their last 20 games.
Lindholm scored in the first, then McAvoy and Foligno connected in the second, and the Sharks could generate only 10 shots on net across the first two periods and eight more in the third. After their 5-3 loss in Columbus on Saturday, the Sharks only looked more fatigued by the second as the clock wound down.
Lindholm’s goal, off the fourth shot against James Reimer, came at the 7:16 mark of the first. The smooth Swede made a clever stickhandling move in the slot, closed to within about 25 feet, and snapped a wrister inside the left post to beat Reimer blocker side.
The Bruins entered the night with their defensemen on a goal-scoring roll (five goals over the previous four games). Lindholm and McAvoy increased it to seven goals over five games. .
McAvoy’s dazzler came at 4:08 of the second, finishing off a four-on-four rush with one of the club’s prettiest goals of the season. Racing down the slot, with the Sharks scurrying to get back, McAvoy slithered between Erik Karlsson and winger Timo Meier midway down the slot, then finished off with a smooth forehand tuck by a sprawled Reimer.
When the highlight reel is released at the end of the season, McAvoy’s goal will be labeled “Filth.”
“We are starting to see the dynamic McAvoy we have seen for years,” noted Montgomery.
For the second time in the last three games, the Bruins had a pair of goals from their backliners. It took a while for the six-pack to get going, but they’re finally producing at levels not seen here even while Bruce Cassidy, once a puck-rushing defenseman himself, was coach.
Finally, Foligno saved some face for the Bruin forwards, connecting for his seventh goal of the season at 7:46 of the second. But it was a Lindholm shot, from the point slot, that led to the Foligno tip-in from near the top of the crease.
Rookie Joona Koppanen, centering the No. 4 line in the absence of Tomas Nosek (cracked foot), picked up an assist on the Foligno goal, registering his first career point.
Pastrnak, who went without a shot Thursday against the Rangers, closed out the scoring with a power-play snipe off a McAvoy dish with 2:40 gone in the third.
Kevin Paul Dupont can be reached at email@example.com.