Bruins defenseman John Moore has plenty to celebrate
In the Bruins’ last eight games, four players other than their top four scorers on the season — Patrice Bergeron, David Pastrnak, Brad Marchand, and David Krejci — have produced goals.
John Moore was happy to join Danton Heinen (three goals), Peter Cehlarik, and Charlie McAvoy (one each) in support of the Big Four.
In Boston’s 2-1 overtime win over the Colorado Avalanche on Sunday afternoon, the defenseman notched his third goal of the season, tying the game at 1 in the second period.
It was a surprise strike for the smooth-skating defender, who has found himself on the outside of the lineup after signing a five-year, $13.75 contract last summer.
Moore dressed for just the fourth time in 12 games, as Matt Grzelcyk’s pulled muscle (officially a lower-body injury) has put him in the lineup the last two games.
That’s not the only reason Moore’s been busier of late. On Thursday, his wife, Elizabeth, gave birth to their second child, daughter Lucy.
“I’m going to race home, see them, change a diaper or two,” said Moore, also the father of daughter Millie. “So, I guess the real shift starts now.”
Moore, who has a single two-goal game in his 492-game career, thought he might have another with 25 ticks left in the second. His slap-dump from the red line caromed off the curved glass at the end of the Bruins’ bench, a little too close to an idle Tuukka Rask, and one-hopped past Avalanche goalie Semyon Varlamov. The curved glass, however, means “puck in benches,” out of play.
“I was just trying to get the puck deep,” said Moore, not intending to give his starting netminder a haircut. “I knew that they’d blow it dead. But it would have been nice if they had been looking the other way.”
Rask, who wasn’t available for comment afterward, wasn’t in the backup goalie’s customary seat. He was standing, with his back turned to the ice, and appeared to be reaching for something near the ground.
“I thought [Moore] was taking out our No. 1 goalie,” joked coach Bruce Cassidy. “That was not a set play.”
In the dressing room, winning netminder Jaroslav Halak recalled allowing a goal earlier in his career when a puck bounced in off a referee. That one counted. It was easy to laugh about after a win.
In their 6-3 loss to the Avalanche on Nov. 14, the Bruins lost Zdeno Chara for six weeks with an MCL injury. Felled in the first period, he wasn’t able to help shut down stars Nathan MacKinnon, Gabriel Landeskog, and Mikko Rantanen, who combined for three goals and six points.
Chara was in the lineup Sunday, helping McAvoy mostly handle the Avalanche’s top line (1-1—2). Just as important were the forwards. With Bergeron and his mates in need of a breather, Cassidy trusted his four best checkers — Sean Kuraly, Noel Acciari, Chris Wagner, and Joakim Nordstrom — to grind the edges off Colorado’s stars.
“We literally asked them to scrum pucks in the O-zone if they got it, without turning it over,” Cassidy said.
Though the Bergeron and Krejci lines didn’t explode for offense against more favorable matchups — neither team had enough in the tank to be truly dynamic — Kuraly drew a holding penalty on MacKinnon with a rush to the net, and Wagner, Acciari, and Nordstrom were their usual buzzsaw selves.
“I do believe they’re capable,” Cassidy said of using his grinders as shutdown men. “I don’t know if it’s going to be an every-night thing. You’ve got a Selke Award winner (Bergeron) — I mean, so it just depends on the matchup and the situation, how fresh we are.”
Grzelcyk skated Saturday and is on track to do so again Monday. If all goes well, Cassidy believed he could be back in the lineup Tuesday against Chicago . . . The Bruins, who won’t practice as a full team Monday, will have a two-day break before a Pacific Division four-in-six, beginning Friday in Anaheim. The Bruins visit Los Angeles (Saturday), San Jose (a week from Monday), and Vegas (a week from Wednesday). The trip ends Feb. 23 in St. Louis . . . After a one-game break, Trent Frederic was back in the lineup at third-line center. On a back-to-back game with a faster opponent in town, David Backes was scratched . . . The Bruins assigned defenseman Steven Kampfer, who hadn’t played since Dec. 23, to AHL Providence on a conditioning assignment. He was plus-2 in a 4-0 win over Syracuse on Sunday . . . Colorado was 12-2-1 in its previous 15 games against Boston . . . Pastrnak’s seven-game point streak (4-7—11) ended.