Their goal-scoring reserves tapped dry the last three weeks, the Bruins fashioned Causeway Street into a bubbling Texas oil field Saturday night, with six goal scorers gushing out a half-dozen goals in a 6-3 drubbing of the Leafs that included both fights and frets for the Black and Gold.
The victory, which truncated a season-worst three-game losing streak, included 3 points a piece from Brad Marchand (0-3—3) and David Krejci (1-2—3), the latter of whom eclipsed Cam Neely on the club’s all time-scoring list.
However, the night also included an ugly hit on Charlie McAvoy, Boston’s prized second-year defenseman, who was clobbered by a late, high, blind-side hit by Leafs forward Zach Hyman midway through the third period. McAvoy, who only returned to the lineup Thursday after missing some seven weeks due to a concussion, was ordered off the ice by an in-arena spotter — per NHL concussion protocol — and did not play another shift.
However, the former BU standout did return to the bench before game’s end and his name remained on the manifest for the club’s late-night flight to Ottawa. Provided their best puck-moving blue liner awakes with a clear head on Sunday, the Bruins hope to have him in the lineup for the 5 p.m. puck drop vs. the Senators.
“I thought it was late. I thought it was unnecessary,” said Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy, reviewing the hit, for which Hyman was tossed from the game. “If the league takes a look at it . . . usually they do . . . but again, it’s one of those things, you’re at a point in the game where there hasn’t been a lot of bodychecking from their team and all of a sudden there’s a late, blindside, unsuspecting one . . . it annoys you.
“Especially when it’s Charlie, you wonder, ‘Are they targeting him, or not?’ You don’t know that — I’d like to think it was just a guy who got there late and didn’t pull up.”
McAvoy was not made available during the usual postgame media scrums. If he is not able to play in Ottawa, rookie Jeremy Lauzon again would fill his roster spot.
Overall, it was the best offensive performance, and edgiest all around, by the Bruins since their goal-scoring turned fallow three weeks ago (16 goals scored over the previous 10 games). With few options on hand, Cassidy opted to put together a Burn The Boats Line — with Krejci centering Marchand and David Pastrnak.
When it was over, Krejci was one of the six goal scorers, along with Jakob Forsbacka Karlsson, David Backes, Torey Krug, Danton Heinen (first point in 12 games), and Ryan Donato. As for the big line, the trio finished a collective 1-7—8, with Marchand posting three assists for the third time this season, and Krejci with only his second multi-point game since Nov. 8.
“For the most part,” offered Cassidy, “I thought it was one of our most complete games.”
The Leafs, who fell behind by 4-0 early in the second on Heinen’s goal, ended up with goals from Travis Dermott, Auston Matthews, and Andreas Johnsson. It had turned into garbage time by the time Dermott struck at the 4:03 mark of the third — and Hyman soon followed with the trashy, predatory hit on McAvoy at the 9:53 mark.
McAvoy, with his back to the boards in the corner to Boston goalie Jaro Halak’s right, was looking to his left after releasing a pass. Hyman, on the forecheck, swooped in a couple of Mississippis late from McAvoy’s blindside and buried him with a high, punishing smack that felled McAvoy.
Matt Grzelcyk, McAvoy’s ex-BU teammate, stepped in to fight Hyman, the honorable move, though it meant Grzelcyk was done for the night via a game misconduct. Meanwhile, the 21-year-old McAvoy needed a couple of minutes to get propped back up on his feet, after which he skated directly to the dressing room per the league’s spotter.
Earlier in the day, the Bruins revealed that Jake DeBrusk, suffering concussion-like symptoms, would not play over the weekend. Backes spent time on the sideline earlier in the year with a concussion, at least the third he has suffered since joining the club. Rookie Urho Vaakanainen remains out with a concussion.
Later in the period, in retaliation for the smack on McAvoy, Chris “Walpole” Wagner drilled slick defenseman Morgan Rielly with a hard, menacing open-ice hit, which in turn had Ron Hainsey, the veteran Leaf blue liner, challenging Wagner to a fight. Just the kind of tit-for-tat the Garden crowd has enjoyed for decades.
“He was the one with the puck, I thought it was a pretty clean hit,” said Wagner in regard to his smack on Rielly. “I stayed on my feet. When something like that happens to Charlie, you want to respond in the correct way.”
Asked about the hit on McAvoy, Wagner added, “We saw the replay and I don’t think we liked it too much . . . it’s part of the game, it’s going to happen, especially in a rivalry like that.”
The win, only their second since Nov. 26, had the Bruins holding the lead for good after JFK’s goal at 11:20 of the first. They led for a total 51:20, a stark contrast to the previous five games in which they led for only a total 12:55.
“We have to win by committee, and that’s what we did tonight,” said Marchand who bumped his production to 7-20—27 through 29 games. “It’s great to see JFK get one early to get us going . . . we need everyone to produce at different times. It was a fun night.”