By Joe Todd | Follow me on Twitter: @heyjoetodd
What a game to start writing post-game content for Black n’ Gold Hockey! After being down two goals early, the Bruins stormed back to score six unanswered goals to defeat Washington 7-3. Pastrnak had another two-goal performance and is starting to heat up with five goals in his past four games. Bruins also had goals from Matt Grzelyck, Craig Smith, Erik Haula, and Brad Marchand (2). Linus Ullmark, making back-to-back appearances for the first time since November 28th and 30th, stopped 27 of 30 for back-to-back wins. Charlie McAvoy returned to the lineup after missing three straight games with an injury. Connor Clifton, alongside his defensive partner Derek Forbort, missed the game after being placed in COVID protocol. Here are a few takeaways on the game that was.
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Grzelyck started the game with a relatively weak interference call against and an ugly turnover for Sheary’s second goal of the night. However, he would settle down and find his groove. Cassidy placed him on the first powerplay unit, which paid dividends on the 5-on-3, and the 5-on-4, assisting on Marchand and Pastrnak’s powerplay goals. At even strength, he would find an opening in the middle of the ice and snapped a nice shot glove side on Fucale for his second of the season. Ten minutes later, he assisted on Haula’s goal, then Marchand’s goal in the 3rd to make it the first five-point night of his career with one goal and four assists, the first Bruin to do so since Raymond Bourque.
Speaking of A’s, Urho Vaakanainen playing in his second straight game, had another apple, making that two assists in two games for the 23-year-old Finn. Vaakanainen looked poised and comfortable in his 16:56 of ice time, making several good plays. He had a few good pinches in the offensive zone, made some nice plays on the penalty kill, had a quick released and low one-timer that led to a rebound and a quality scoring chance for Haula, and a nice chip pass to spring Hall leading to Pastrnak’s second goal. With Clifton and Forbort out for an unknown amount of time, it will be interesting to see where he is at in his development. So far, so good!
Ullmark made back-to-back starts for the first time since November 28th and 30th, where he won against Vancouver and lost vs. Detroit. Ullmark deserved to start against the Capitals after an excellent performance against the reigning Cup champion Lightning. Ullmark started the game shaky, allowing an ugly goal after the puck bounced awkwardly off the side of the net and onto the stick of Sheary. Despite Grzelyck’s giveaway to Sheary for his second goal, Ullmark would make several big saves to keep the Bruins close. He made a great glove save on Ovechkin’s classic powerplay slap shot, and a save against Eller on a 2-on-0, and another in the final minute of the first to keep the game tied at two. With Rask coming back soon, it is a good problem to have his partner playing his best hockey of the season to ease the comeback.
Powerplay finally breaks through at a clutch moment.
In the first three games to start the New Year, the Bruins PP went 0/8 against the teams you should probably score a powerplay goal against in Buffalo, Detroit, and New Jersey. This 0/8 stretch was part of a larger 0/14 dating back to December 11ths win against the Flames. In the three games since the Devils, against much stronger competition in the Wild, Lightning, and Capitals, the Bruins have gone 4/11. The powerplay was the spark that started the comeback against the Caps.
Todd’s and Ends.
Trent Frederic left the game with an upper-body injury and did not return.
Great to see Craig Smith pot one and assist on another. He had been goal-less in his past four games. If the Bruins are to go on a run, his success next to Marchand and Bergeron will be critical.
Haula is HAUT. A goal tonight and points in his last five games. Does this shift the discussion about trading for a second-line center? Too early to tell, but in the small sample size we have, this line has been fantastic, including Hall, who has eight points in the first six games of 2022.
Karson Kuhlman returned to the lineup after being placed in COVID protocol. For the most part, he was unnoticeable and should be replaced full-time by Anton Blidh. Anton Blidh had two assists tonight, has three points in his last two games.
After taking a vicious high stick from Nic Dowd, Marchand might not be as good-looking as Oskar Steen anymore. Despite the bleeding nose, he still managed two goals and an assist.