Bruins go back and forth with Kings, prevail in OT
What kind and generous hosts the Bruins were on Saturday afternoon.
After showering Patrice Bergeron with gifts, honoring their beloved Bergy for reaching the 1,000-game mark, the Bruins bestowed several more upon the Kings: namely, a basket of shiny power-play opportunities, permissive defending, and a blown two-goal lead. The Bruins even sent the Kings out of town with a point.
But nothing more, thanks to a power-play winner from Bergeron — of course — that finished a seesaw 5-4 win at 2:34 of overtime.
It was the 20th goal of the season for the 15-year veteran, and gave him his 10th season of 20 or more. Alone in the right circle after an Ilya Kovalchuk tripping penalty, Bergeron snapped a shot over the shoulder of Los Angeles netminder Jonathan Quick, off the far post, and in.
“The legend continues,” said Brad Marchand, who finished one of Bergeron’s two assists and helped the Bruins earn their 30th win, eight days later on the calendar than last year’s 50-win season.
A four-time Selke Trophy winner as the league’s best defensive forward, Bergeron, 33, is on track for a career offensive season despite missing 16 games with a nasty rib/shoulder injury. His 1-2—3 line Saturday boosted him to 20-30—50 in 39 games.
Should Bergeron remain this hot (1.26 points per game, seventh best in the league) over Boston’s remaining 27 outings, he would eclipse his previous high (73 points, reached as a 20-year-old in 2005-06) by 10 points.
The Bruins, trailing 2-1 after two periods, got goals from Danton Heinen, the newly minted first-liner, and David Krejci in the first five minutes of the third, and Marchand’s shorthanded goal at 6:49 gave them room to breathe.
Defenseman Charlie McAvoy also scored for Boston, which pulled even with Montreal (68 points) for third place in the Atlantic Division before the Habs’ evening showdown with Toronto.
After dispatching the Kings, who remain last in the Western Conference, Boston hosts another West also-ran, Colorado, at 3 p.m. Sunday.
McAvoy opened the scoring 4:38 into the second period off a brilliant net-front feed from Bergeron. Bergeron, playing in Game No. 1,002, was feted pregame and during first-period breaks for reaching the millennium mark on Tuesday. He added another pair of highlights to his reel by twisting his wrists and dishing no-look to a pinching McAvoy, and later, when Marchand made it 4-2 on a shorthanded two-on-one, No. 37 set up him with a curl-and-drag move on a rush down the right wing.
“To get the win was very special,” Bergeron said. “That’s what I said on the bench: We’ve got to find a way.”
McAvoy’s goal was a nice reward for the second-year defenseman, his season sidetracked by injuries. It was the second goal in 28 games (2-12—14) for the skilled puck mover, who started many a breakout with head-up plays out of the zone.
The Bruins, who outshot the Kings, 15-6, in the first period, saw the script flipped on them in the second. LA’s 16-7 shot edge produced two goals, thanks in part to Boston’s penalties and so-so defending.
After Zdeno Chara interfered with Alex Iafallo at 5:17, the Kings were of little threat on the man-advantage, but Iafallo had more in store. Krejci slashed Anze Kopitar, and Iafallo’s power-play shot caromed off Tuukka Rask’s midsection and into the net at 8:13.
The Kings went ahead, 2-1, at 14:02 of the middle frame. Kopitar cashed a feed from Dustin Brown, who outflanked Brandon Carlo behind the net and fed a pass through Torey Krug. The Peter Cehlarik-Krejci-David Pastrnak second line, which regularly creates offense, was charged with some sketchy defending there.
“It’s February, so we should know what to do,” Krejci said. “We got the 2 points, and in February, that’s what matters.”
They looked like a sure-fire winner early in the third.
Heinen, whom everyone in Black and Gold believed would skate into some puck luck playing on the top line with Marchand and Bergeron, tied it 3:27 in, when he finished a McAvoy rebound with Bergeron occupying Kopitar in front. Heinen outworked Drew Doughty for his goal.
Just 90 seconds later, at 4:57, Krejci followed a Krug shot off the post, generated off a rush entry by Pastrnak.
Marchand’s shorty, at 6:49, which made it 4-2, was his first shorthanded goal of the season and 24th of his career. It is the most among active players and one shy of the franchise lead. He is tied with Derek Sanderson for second. Rick Middleton (25) owns the record.
The Kings, who entered 16-1-1 when leading after two periods, pulled to within a goal when Nate Thompson deflected a pass past Rask (25 saves) at 9:19 of the third, and tied it at 15:13 on a seeing-eye shot by defenseman Oscar Fantenberg.
Rask, unbeaten (9-0-2) in his last 11 starts, saved Boston’s bacon in OT. He produced a save on Adrian Kempe, who broke in alone. Kovalchuk tripped Pastrnak 1:27 in, setting up Bergeron for another memorable moment in his adopted hometown.
“He is a big-time player,” Krejci said. “Every time there is a big game, he shows up and is leading the way.”