The Bruins, knocked for a loop earlier in the day by the loss of top scorer David Pastrnak, pieced together one of their most balanced offensive attacks of the season Tuesday night with their 6-3 win over the Blackhawks at the Garden.
Five forwards scored for the Bruins, including linemates Danton Heinen and Brad Marchand (1-3—4) on a night when the Bruins trimmed a seven-game Blackhawks winning streak. David Krejci (2-1—3) also scored a pair of goals, the first time this season he has potted a pair in one game.
The Bruins, now 5-0-3 in their last eight games, built a 4-1 lead by late in the second and motored through in the third for coach Bruce Cassidy’s 100th win behind the Boston bench.
Tuukka Rask, with 22 saves, also extended his recent undefeated streak to 10-0-2.
Jake DeBrusk and Peter Cehlarik also scored for the Bruins, who later this week will embark on a five-game West Coast road trip that begins Friday night in Anaheim. Patrice Bergeron chipped in with a pair of assists.
“We got results tonight,” said Cassidy. “I liked our buy-in. I thought our fourth line was physical — played their game, controlled pucks down low. Bergy’s line was Bergy’s line . . . good energy, controlling the puck. I thought our D did a good job limiting [Chicago’s] entries. Scoring came along with it.”
The Bruins were well on their way to win No. 32 after their three-goal power surge over the final 5:00 of the first period, with Krejci, Heinen, and Marchand erasing a 1-0 Hawks lead and sending the Bruins into the first break with the 3-1 advantage.
The Bruins rolled up an 8-0 shot advantage over the final 7:00 of the first and put three of those by ex-Merrimack goalie Collin Delia. Not an easy night for the Blackhawks tender, who too often through the night was left with little support from a very spotty, unfocused defensive corps.
Earlier in the period, with the Bruins slow to find their shooting groove, Alex DeBrincat knocked home the 1-0 lead with a shot that Tuukka Rask misplayed. DeBrincat carried over the line and fired off a routine 45-foot wrister that Rask intended to block toward the left-wing corner. But the puck eluded him, sneaking through his blocker and body and rolling over the goal line for DeBrincat’s 29th strike of the season.
The period then began to turn Boston’s way when the Bruins killed back-to-back penalties, the first against Marchand (goalie interference) at 7:12, followed by Zdeno Chara (roughing) at 8:23. The transgressions left the Hawks with a 5-on-3 advantage for 49 seconds, but for all their firepower they could not put a serious threat on Rask.
Penalties killed, momentum tsunami-style to the Bruins.
Krejci, filling in for the injured Pastrnak on the power play, nailed in the 1-1 equalizer at 14:47, hammering home a one-timer slapper “Pasta”-style from the left-wing circle. Bergeron provided the perfect cross-slot feed, dishing on a flat angle after first circling high in the right-wing circle and then carrying back toward the net. No doubt Pastrnak, who earlier in the day had thumb surgery, offered a bandaged fist bump to his fellow Czech from his hospital bed.
“We stuck to our game plan and got a big goal on the power play,” noted Krejci. “And we played with a lead.”
Less than a minute later, at 15:36, Heinen clicked for his third goal in four games, batting home a loose puck down low after Zdeno Chara hammered a one-timer in from above the left-wing circle. The Hawks were outmanned down low, 2-1, with Heinen and Marchand swarming, and the Bruins were out front on the scoreboard.
Finally, with 1:11 remaining in the first, Marchand bumped home an easy one from the top of the crease for his 22nd goal this season. Delia blocked a short-range Bergeron wrister, leading to a loose puck that Heinen deftly shuttled toward the right post. An easy pot for Marchand and no doubt dispiriting for the Hawks, who arrived in town riding a seven-game win streak.
The sides traded goals in the second, a period which the Bruins dominated and quite easily could have finished with greater than a 4-2 lead.
DeBrusk, without a goal since Jan. 8, provided the 4-1 lead with at 18:06, moments after the Hawks killed a 5-on-3 shorthanded situation. Cruising to the net, DeBrusk deflected home a Krejci shot from the left-wing circle — the 15th goal and 20th point this season for DeBrusk, who finished 16-27—43 last season, his rookie year in the NHL.
“Nice to get on the board — nice to get that out of the way,” said DeBrusk. “Now I can just run with it. I think I was just sick of everything, to be honest with you. “
The Hawks were able to carry some hope into the third when defenseman Duncan Keith, playing in career game 1,052, ripped off a slapper from above the left-wing circle that deflected off DeBrusk and went high into the net, Rask with little chance to adjust to the shot.
Erik Gustafsson cut Boston’s lead to 4-3 at 4:48 of the third, but Cehlarik, with his fourth goal in 11 games since being called up from Providence, pushed the Bruins out to the 5-3 lead with 7:18 gone. And Krejci followed with his second of the night for the knockout punch.
“Great to see six goals,” said a smiling Rask, now 18-8-4. “Good for a goalie.”