Jake DeBrusk, Tuukka Rask make sure Bruins topple Kings
LOS ANGELES — Jake DeBrusk scored a goal, dropped to one knee, raised his fists and pumped one of them with a shout.
He liked the next celebration better.
With 73 seconds left Saturday night against the Kings, DeBrusk’s give-and-go with Charlie McAvoy resulted in a go-ahead goal, and sent a joyous DeBrusk leaping into his teammate’s arms. The Bruins left here with a 4-2 win.
DeBrusk, who has scored in three straight games, set a new career high in goals (17) and his soft saucer pass from the circle was tipped home by McAvoy, off the skate of Anze Kopitar, who splintered his stick across the crossbar in frustration at another loss.
No such feeling for the Bruins (34-17-8), who snatched points for the 10th game in a row (7-0-3), and improved to 14-3-4 in their last 21.
Kings winger Alex Iafallo tied the game with 4:23 remaining, and a Brad Marchand hooking penalty 23 seconds later threatened to put Boston behind for the first time. But Boston killed it, and the DeBrusk-McAvoy connection produced the dagger.
“Never say die, for sure,” said the offensively gifted McAvoy, who noticed a lane to the net and went there. “I’m not really sure what happened . . . I saw it hit a stick and go in.”
Marchand scored his 23rd of the year, and Patrice Bergeron (21) poked home a loose puck with 37 seconds left, keeping the Kings (23-29-6) at the bottom of the Western Conference.
Netminder Tuukka Rask was sparkling, saving 23 of 25 shots to help lift the Bruins (76 points) over Toronto (75) for second in the East.
Boston is also 9-1-2 in the second games of back-to-backs, a record they’ll savor on a day off before Monday’s tilt with San Jose.
DeBrusk, on a three-game streak for the first time in a regular season (he scored in Games 6 and 7 against Toronto, and Game 1 against Tampa, last spring), gave Boston a 1-0 lead at 5:31 of the first.
Moments after the expiration of a Matt Grzelcyk high-stick penalty, Peter Cehlarik rushed the zone, delayed and snuck a pass cross-ice, off the skate of twisting defender Paul LaDue. DeBrusk picked the short-side corner on backup Jack Campbell, starting for late scratch Jonathan Quick (illness).
Cehlarik ended the night having skated 10:57, owing to what coach Bruce Cassidy termed a lower body injury. He is questionable to play Monday in San Jose.
Late in the second period, Marchand fired through a screen off a Bergeron faceoff win. It helped the Bruins lead, 2-1, in a second period in which they relied too much on Rask.
The netminder, who improved to 11-0-2 since his last loss (Dec. 23), was excellent when the Bruins mismanaged the puck, and was huge when the team in front of him continued its common practice of allowing a shorthanded opponent scoring chances.
“He kept us in it with some two or three really high-end saves,” Cassidy said. “It was not a lot of quantity, but the quality was good.”
In the first period, when Kings penalty-killer Adrian Kempe broke 2-on-1 with Carl Hagelin, Rask got enough of it. Torey Krug swept the puck out of the blue paint. On a second-period power play, Rask needed no such help.
A poor Grzelcyk pinch put Kopitar on the breakaway, but a patient Rask denied him with the glove. Rask also denied Jeff Carter’s heavy bid, after another Kings shorthanded rush.
LA’s first goal came on the power play, when McAvoy held Austin Wagner. From the right circle, Ilya Kovalchuk backed off Kevan Miller and Chris Wagner by showing pass, then turned and ripped the twine at 10:37 of the second.
Later in the period, Rask sold out to deny Iafallo on a quick-developing 2-on-1, going double-pad stack and deflecting the puck with his paddle.
“You should put up a poster of that,” McAvoy said.
Marchand, in shades of LA winger Tyler Toffoli’s last-second OT goal against the Bruins last season, put Boston up, 2-1, at 16:15 when he scooped a loose puck off the draw and sniped through a screen. The winger has 11-18—29 totals in 20 games since Jan. 1.
“I think we’re just confident in our group,” Marchand said. “They got an unfortunate bounce there to tie it up, but guys did a great job of sticking with it. That’s what we’re going to need if we’re going to make a push here.”