SAN JOSE, Calif. — Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy can match the team record for consecutive wins by a replacement coach on Wednesday when Boston faces Anaheim in California.
Cassidy is 4-0 since taking over for Claude Julien, who was fired Feb. 7. A win Wednesday would match Harry Sinden (1980) and Bep Guidolin (1973), who both went 5-0 after taking over the bench in-season.
The NHL record is six straight wins by a replacement, set by Mario Tremblay with the Canadiens in 1995, according to the Elias Sports Bureau. After Jacques Demers was fired after opening the 1995-96 season 0-4, two assistants served as interim co-coaches for Montreal’s next game before Tremblay started and won six in a row.
Sinden won five straight from March 22 to April 2, 1980, after replacing Fred Creighton. Guidolin replaced Tom Johnson on Feb. 5, 1973, then won five straight from Feb. 7-15.
After Wednesday’s matchup with the Ducks, the Bruins face the Kings in Los Angeles on Thursday and wrap up their road trip Sunday in Dallas.
Back to work
Riding the emotional high of a 2-1 overtime win over the Sharks here Sunday night, running their record to 4-0 under Cassidy, the Bruins will practice at 3 p.m. Monday in Anaheim in preparation of their game there Wednesday night vs. the Ducks.
Brad Marchand’s game-winner, his 25th goal this season, came at 2:36 of OT, off a long lead pass by Torey Krug. Patrice Bergeron, on a faceoff deep in Boston’s end, muscled the puck to Krug, prompting the speedy Marchand to “blow the zone” in anticipation of Krug catching him with a long lead pass.
“We battled hard,” said Marchand, now tied with David Pastrnak as the club’s top goal scorer. “It wasn’t always pretty, but we got the 2 points and that makes it all the better.”
Krug’s long lob pass hit the ice just outside Boston’s defensive blue line, a few feet ahead of Marchand. As the puck skittered ahead of him through the neutral zone, Marchand caught up to it near the opposite blue line and didn’t gain full possession until he was some 30-35 feet away from Sharks goalie Martin Jones. After flashing a forehand deke at the doorstep, Marchand slipped a sleight-of-hand backhander between Jones’s pads.
“The guys have responded to the change,” said Cassidy. “Everyone has their own reasons why. I am just glad that they have and recognize if we want to be playing into the late spring we had to win our share of games. We’ve been able to do that the last four. “
Tuukka Rask, who will split the next two games (Ducks, Kings) with backup Anton Khudobin, made 29 stops Sunday, including one in overtime, and improved his record to 28-13-4.
When Patrick Marleau beat Rask for the Sharks’ lone goal at 17:37 of the second period, tying it at 1-1, it ended Rask’s shutout streak of 100:14, dating back to his win over the Sharks at the Garden in Cassidy’s debut.
Rask is now 3-0 in his three starts under Cassidy and has allowed only four goals, stopping 77 of 81 shots for a .951 save percentage.
Cassidy said only that he will start Khudobin in one of the next two games, but wasn’t sure if it would be Wednesday vs. the Ducks or Thursday vs. the Kings. It’s doubtful the Bruins will practice Thursday morning, after playing the night before in Anaheim, so the starter that night won’t have the benefit of the late-morning tuneup.
Spooner line clicking
Ryan Spooner, showing more confidence each game under Cassidy, whom he played for in AHL Providence, scored the other goal, giving the Bruins a 1-0 lead at 11:05 of the first period.
Spooner, now with 9 goals, centers a line with Frank Vatrano and Jimmy Hayes. The trio landed eight shots on net in San Jose and made 15 attempts overall.
“They’ve done a nice job since we put them together,” said Cassidy. “They’ve responded well. They want to play, be part of it.”
Spooner’s goal was an easy tuck at a vacant right post, after a Hayes misfire from the slot ricocheted off the rear wall and set up Spooner for the bunny. Vatrano triggered it all with a dish up to the right point that Adam McQuaid (now a career-high three-game point streak, 1-2—3) fired toward the net, setting up Hayes.
“We’ve asked them to play to their strengths offensively,” said Cassidy, “and be responsible defensively. The effort’s been there, both ends of the ice. It is not always going to be perfect, but . . .
“Even Ryan won a big faceoff in overtime and they made a play off the rush that could have ended. We are trying to put them in areas where they are an important part of the game, see if they can handle it, and I think they have so far.”