The Bruins and Sharks, two of the NHL’s hottest teams, played a wild one Monday night
SAN JOSE, Calif. — Thirteen Bruins registered a point on the scoresheet Monday night at SAP Center.
Give an uncredited assist to karma, which was clearly on their side.
Charlie McAvoy’s one-time ripper with 1:01 left in overtime gave Boston a 6-5 win over the Sharks in a wild affair that saw the Bruins blow a three-goal first-period lead but tie it with 1:49 left in regulation. Chris Wagner’s goal, tapped across the line after he batted it down with an uncalled high stick, tied the game at 5.
It was payback, possibly from an entity high above the ice, for an apparent Wagner goal that was waved off early in the first period. His shot trickled through netminder Martin Jones and across the line, as a TV replay showed, but the goal was waved off.
“What goes around comes around,” Wagner said.
Not including that, the Bruins scored three times on their first seven shots, but on the strength of a rare Joe Thornton hat trick, the Sharks went ahead, 5-4, in the third period. Analyzing the hows and whys of this one, Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy said, will have to wait until Tuesday.
Even though they blew a three-goal lead, Cassidy said, “We’re going to enjoy it.” The season’s too long, in his view, not to appreciate ones like that.
The Bruins (35-17-8), playing their third road game in four nights, won a matchup of two of hockey’s hottest teams, both second in their respective conferences. The Sharks (35-17-8) had produced win streaks of seven and six games since the start of January, going 14-4-1 in that span.
But Boston, which extended its win streak to six games, has taken points in its last 11 games (8-0-3). Before Monday’s win, the B’s were tied with St. Louis (10-0-0) for the longest active point streak.
Torey Krug, Zdeno Chara, Karson Kuhlman (first career goal), and Jake DeBrusk also scored for the Bruins, those early goals putting them up 4-2 at the 6:30 mark of the second period.
The 39-year-old Thornton, who earned the fifth hat trick of his 21-year career (which began in Boston in 1997), looked like he had scored the winning goal in the third when the hats flew in San Jose.
Leave it to Wagner — who wears No. 14 for his hometown Bruins for Thornton’s old running mate, Sergei Samsonov — to outshine Jumbo Joe. Defenseman Brandon Carlo’s shot deflected high as the Walpole kid was crashing, and Wagner swiped at it with his blade. When it landed, he made sure it was a good, non-reviewable goal.
“I think I got it shoulder level,” he said. “I put it in before — because I knew they couldn’t challenge it. They’re probably upset about that.”
The Sharks were irate, but so was Cassidy after the 1-0 goal that wasn’t.
San Jose defenseman Marc-Edouard Vlasic swept the puck off the line after Wagner’s shot at 7:32 of the first. The play was waved off, but NBC Sports’s camera showed a sliver of white space between a rolling puck and the goal line.
“They said they went to Toronto. That’s it. No explanation,” said Cassidy, who argued in vain. “The replay we got on the bench . . . the puck’s across the line.”
Then came the goals, the Bruins scoring three times in a span of 4:35.
After the Sharks took a high-sticking penalty, Krug caught all of a slapper from the right circle, beating Jones short side at 13:49. At 16:26, Chara beat Jones with a knuckler from the point, off a Sean Kuraly faceoff win. It was Chara’s first goal since Oct. 25.
To make it 3-0, David Krejci broke out his lob wedge and flipped a pass over two Sharks. Jake DeBrusk took it to the net and left it for Kuhlman, who battled a defenseman and had two whacks at. His first NHL goal came at 18:24 of his second career game.
The Bruins didn’t go into the dressing room unscathed. With three seconds left in the period, Thornton poked in a loose puck to make it 3-1, outmuscling old pal Patrice Bergeron.
After Kevan Miller’s puck-over-glass penalty 1:40 into the second, Joe Pavelski scored his 32nd of the season by deflecting a Brent Burns pass off Tuukka Rask and into the net.
Boston went up 4-2 on the power play, which finished 2 for 4. David Backes kicked a puck from a neutral-zone scrum to DeBrusk, who finished a give-and-go with Danton Heinen with a quick roof job in tight. DeBrusk is on the longest goal streak of his young career (four goals).
The Sharks trimmed the lead to 4-3 on Thornton’s second, and tied it shorthanded. Logan Couture earned a penalty shot after working over Krug, and beat Rask with 25 ticks left in the second.
With the Bruins struggling to generate offense in the third — no shots in the first 10 minutes, and outshot 38-20 in total — Thornton beat a screened Rask, firing off McAvoy’s shin pad, for his first hat trick since Oct. 27, 2010. The ex-Bruin (taken first overall in 1997) is known far more for his sublime playmaking than his marksmanship, but he has had many winners in his Hall of Fame career.
Because of Wagner, and then McAvoy, it wasn’t.
“We didn’t say die. You get a contribution from Wags off a great shot from Brando, that’s absolutely massive,” McAvoy said. “They make special plays like that, too.”
Breathing easier afterward, Cassidy said he felt best for the hard-edged Wagner; for the rookie Kuhlman, who has fit in with the group quickly; for Rask, who made big saves in OT after allowing several deflected goals; for the whole group, and himself, for leaving winners.
For whom did Wagner feel best?
“Obviously Koolie, his first NHL goal,” he said. “Our whole team, stringing six together, points in our last 11. We’re picking each other up. New guys every night. It’s pretty special.”