Matt Porter

Missed calls, blown leads and a thrilling overtime highlighted Bruins win in San Jose

Charlie McAvoy scored the game-winning goal against the Sharks in overtime.
Charlie McAvoy scored the game-winning goal against the Sharks in overtime.Ben Margot/Associated Press/Associated Press

LAS VEGAS — Asked to sum it up in two sentences, Brad Marchand needed only one.

“That was a [expletive] show,” he said, a pause punctuating every word.

Yeah, a lot of things happened, to put it lightly, in the Bruins’ 6-5 overtime win Monday night in San Jose. It was one of the most entertaining games of the season, so jam-packed with back-and-forth swings, blown leads, weird bounces, and missed calls that a Joe Thornton hat trick — his first in more than eight years — wasn’t even the dominant story line.

Bruins video coach J.P. Buckley had a complicated task on his hands Tuesday morning, when the coaches held prepractice meetings and an optional practice at T-Mobile Arena. It was not a typical regular-season contest.


“Just a funny game to chop up,” coach Bruce Cassidy said. “You got three games in one almost, it seemed like.”

The Bruins won despite going more than 22 minutes without a shot, between the second and third periods. They won despite losing leads of 3-0 (first period) and 4-2 (second). They hung in despite seeing Thornton score with 6:28 left, and drop to one 39-year-old knee to celebrate as hats flew. Cameras caught him on the bench, raising his arms, shouting with joy.

Yet for all that, the Bruins got it done in “a different way,” Cassidy said.

“Earlier in the year it was 2-1 games,” he said. “Now, to be able to win a 6-5 game is good for our guys’ confidence. You’re going to get into those games where pucks go in your own net, and you can’t just [say], ‘Hey, it’s not going to be our night.’ ”

Six goal scorers — none of them named David Pastrnak, who missed his fourth game after thumb surgery — made it Boston’s night. One of the producers was Chris Wagner, who was involved in several of the game’s what-ifs.


Wagner, denied a goal by a curious non-call in the first period (the puck was across the line, but was washed out), tied the score with 1:49 left when officials missed him playing the puck above his shoulder before stuffing it home. In overtime, a backchecking Wagner also had a front-row seat to a 2-on-0 by the Sharks . . . that was (correctly) blown dead because the net was dislodged after Charlie McAvoy tangled with Evander Kane.

“I took four hard strides and said, ‘Wait a minute, this can’t happen,’ ” said Wagner, who set a career high in goals (eight).

Tuukka Rask was standing beside his post, purposefully out of the play, as Kane charged up the ice with a teammate. What if the officials allowed the play to continue? In a game so capricious, it was not out of the realm of possibility.

What if Rask, now 12-0-2 in his last 14 decisions, didn’t stop Tomas Hertl in overtime, when the Sharks winger cut back inside and made a strong bid for a winner?

Speaking of decisions, what if Kane had changed properly on the one that counted?

Kane, who battled McAvoy (team-high 24:58 of ice time) for a hard 3-on-3 shift, waved the white flag as Jake DeBrusk started an end-to-end rush from behind the net. He lagged in getting off, leaving Kevin Labanc no chance to pick up a trailing McAvoy.


Not only that, linemate Logan Couture gave up chasing DeBrusk and floated toward David Krejci on the far side.

DeBrusk, whose wicked wheels helped create three of the Bruins’ goals, fed Krejci, who slipped it to McAvoy, who hammered the final nail.

“Three high-hockey-IQ guys,” noted Cassidy, whose team went 3 for 3 in California for the first time since the Sharks and Ducks joined the Kings in the early ’90s.

Then there was the delay-of-game call early in the third period, another would-be swing. The Bruins had iced the puck, and Cassidy said Krejci went to the bench to retape his shin pad. His team unable to change lines on the icing, Cassidy said an official did not give a first-time warning — which is common practice — before issuing the penalty.

As for the final what-if, what if Thornton had won it for the Sharks instead?

If you know the backstory of Jumbo Joe’s four-goal promise, you might have enjoyed Marchand’s take.

“We wanted to win, but I think we were all kind of hoping for him to get that fourth one,” Marchand said. “See if he was actually going to do what he said he was going to do.”

.   .   .

Peter Cehlarik (lower body) practiced and could replace a forward, either Karson Kuhlman or David Backes, in the lineup Wednesday against Vegas.