Some games, the Bruins offer a dazzling fireworks display. Other games are like watching 60 minutes of fumbling with wet matches. That’s what we saw for most of Tuesday night at TD Garden.
But the fire did finally spark, with two goals in the final five minutes, and the Bruins kept their scorching streak alive.
In a 2-0 win over the Carolina Hurricanes, the Bruins (20-3-5) won their eighth game in a row.
Goals by Charlie Coyle and David Krejci finished the Hurricanes, who were swept out of last season’s Eastern Conference finals by the Bruins, making the NHL-best Bruins the first club to 20 wins.
“Felt like we were right there,” said Coyle, who redirected a Brad Marchand pass with 4:05 left. “A bounce here or two there, maybe we score earlier. But we stayed with it.”
On their first eight-game winning streak since a 12-gamer in March 2014, the Bruins have points in their last 12 (9-0-3) and are the only team unbeaten in regulation at home (12-0-4). One Black-and-Gold edition started the season on a longer run without a regulation home loss: the 1973-74 club, which went 21 games (19-0-2).
It is a club that believes it will score eventually, no matter how tight the checking. The Hurricanes, fast on the forecheck and active on defense, didn’t offer much. They were 0 for 2 on the power play.
And yet . . .
“Maybe we didn’t have our ‘A’ game. You’re not going to have it for all 82 games,” said Krejci, who scored his 200th career goal to add insurance with 2:57 to go. “What a big goal by Chucky. After that, it was a little bit easier.”
The Hurricanes (16-11-1), spooked by goalie Tuukka Rask in last season’s conference finals, this time saw Jaroslav Halak. They will go down as the 500th opponent he faced in his 14-year career, and the 49th he has blanked.
“Even if it’s a tight game or we’re down by one or so, we believe we can come back and win,” said Halak, who boosted his save percentage to .934, just ahead of Rask (.933) and second best in the league. “Guys that need to step up, they step up.”
Coyle gave him breathing room with 4:05 left, after a slick passing play from linemates Danton Heinen and Marchand. It was a reimagined top-six line, in addition to Pastrnak riding with Krejci and Jake DeBrusk.
“We weren’t generating much,” Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy said. “One of those in-game switches we’ve done in the past. Sometimes they work, sometimes they don’t.”
Heinen, who said he was irritated by an earlier giveaway, pilfered the puck from a defenseman at the top of the Bruins’ offensive zone. The D-man in question was Jake Gardiner, ex-of Toronto, who lost Game 7s in 2013 and 2018 on this ice. Not many happy returns for him, not in this town.
“That’s the part I like — the second effort, to win a puck in a 0-0 game, in a non-scoring situation,” Cassidy said. “It was more of a defensive play than anything, and he stuck with it.
“Who knows how the game would have gone if he didn’t win that battle?”
Heinen collected a return pass and entered the Hurricanes’ zone, and with Marchand working a defenseman at the far dot, Heinen went outside with his pass, banking it off the boards where Marchand could reach it. Or that’s how it looked, anyway.
“That was just a bad pass, off his back,” Heinen said. “Yeah, no. I just missed it.”
Marchand, with a quick stick and an even quicker mind, curled a feed to Coyle at the front of the net. A far-side redirection, past the pad of another ex-Leaf, James Reimer, set the Garden crowd ablaze. Reimer, dealt from Florida to Carolina last summer, was in the same crease for the 2013 Toronto Game 7 meltdown (“Bergeron! Bergeron!”).
Krejci drew a standing ovation when his milestone was announced on the videoboard. He tipped a point shot past Reimer (32 saves) a little more than a minute after Coyle broke the dam, becoming the 18th Bruin to score 200.
“It’s just a number,” said Krejci, who also ranks eighth in assists (464). “Haven’t really thought about it.”
Carolina had been off since beating the Lightning, 3-2, in Tampa on Saturday. The Hurricanes have lost three of four, more tinder for the hottest team in the league.
“It shows that we’re conditioned, and we have will,” Cassidy said. “We know how to play when the game is on the line. We’re still focusing on our start. I didn’t think it was poor tonight by any means . . . we’ve really stepped it up when we needed to. It’s the sign of a good team.”
Follow Matt Porter on Twitter at @mattyports.