“Survivor” usually airs on CBS.
Saturday’s episode was broadcast on NESN from exotic TD Garden and starred the Boston Bruins.
Jim Montgomery’s tribe emerged with the immunity idol — and the victory — hanging on for a 5-3 decision over an Arizona Coyotes club that nipped at its heels all afternoon long.
Missing top defenseman Charlie McAvoy (upper-body injury) and losing top centerman Pavel Zacha midway through the first period (also upper-body injury), Montgomery and his assistants mixed and matched their lines and defensive pairings and shortened their bench to hold off the desperate Desert Dogs in the third period.
“I thought our structure was white-knuckling,’’ said Montgomery. “We were white-knuckling on the bench a lot, but if you have the second and third effort, you find ways to have success. It’s amazing what effort overcomes.”
With Zacha down and rookie Matt Poitras bypassed for veterans down the stretch, Morgan Geekie and Trent Frederic (both of whom started the game as wingers) filled in on some pivot duty, while regulars Charlie Coyle and Johnny Beecher took on heavier workloads.
“We had guys playing all over the place tonight and that’s just how it’s going to be some days and you’ve got to figure out ways to win in this league and that’s what we did tonight,” said Geekie.
Trailing, 3-0, early in the second, the Coyotes struck for a pair of goals just 36 seconds apart to get back in it. The visitors were behind, 4-2, entering the third but cut it to 4-3 in the opening minutes.
It wasn’t until David Pastrnak connected for his second goal of the game — and sweet 16th of the season — with a little more than five minutes left that this one finally felt like it was in the books.
The Coyotes (13-11-2), who came in winners of five of their last six, including decisions over the last five Stanley Cup champs (the Golden Knights, Lightning, Avalanche, Blues, and Capitals), never folded their tents. They never went away, and they kept testing the shorthanded Bruins’ mettle.
“It’s a challenge [but] we like it,” said Coyle, asked about facing a desperate team while protecting a slim lead. “It’s up to us to see if we can play the right way [and] close it out. Those are games you’re going to have to get used to no matter what the score is, really.”
Coyle had a monster game, leading Boston’s forwards in ice time (20:17) and blocked shots (3), scoring his 10th goal, and, oh yeah, winning 17 of 22 faceoffs.
The Bruins (18-5-3) came out drowsy again, being outshot by the Coyotes, 9-1, over the first 10 minutes.
As he so often does, it was Pastrnak who brought the offense — and the crowd to life.
Pastrnak beat Arizona defenseman Juuso Välimäki to the corner off a faceoff, collected the puck, wheeled around the back of the net, and tucked a wrister past Connor Ingram at the near post.
“Unreal,” said Montgomery. “Goes in, wins a battle. You know when your best players win battles, it becomes contagious.”
The Bruins went up, 2-0, when Frederic picked off a blind backhand pass from behind the net by Sean Durzi and immediately hit Coyle, who was stationed net front and tapped it past Ingram.
“I honestly didn’t do much. I just tried to keep my stick there and [Frederic] made the play happen,” said a humble Coyle.
Kevin Shattenkirk connected on the power play (Durzi for hooking) early in the second period and with a 3-0 lead, things felt safe and sound for the home club.
The Coyotes were just getting going, however.
Clayton Keller and Michael Carcone whistled quick wristers past Linus Ullmark (31 saves) to cut into the lead.
Danton Heinen’s fourth goal of the season gave the Bruins breathing room entering the final 20 minutes.
The Coyotes let it all hang out in the third, cutting it to 4-3 (Lawson Crouse) and then pinching in and taking chances to try to tie it.
Pastrnak ended the drama, thanks in large part to Geekie, who got the puck in deep and left it on Ingram’s doorstep, where Pastrnak cashed it in.
“We want to keep playing the same way, not sit back, just play the right way, get on the attack, but do it the right way,” said Coyle. “Have a good F three. We’re always reloading for our D so they can pinch and keep the puck in. When we do that, we play the right way. Then they’re going to start to cheat their game and take risky plays and that’s when they’re going to turn it over and we’ll capitalize on that.”
Montgomery saw some good and he saw some bad. Overall, however, he’ll take it.
“I loved the effort. I thought our second and third effort was really good. I thought we had some great blocks,” said Montgomery. “Obviously Linus was fantastic, and he needed to be [because] we gave up too much. And Pasta was fantastic, too.”