Miracle win against Florida proved Bruins taking home-ice hunt seriously

Matt Kalman
March 07, 2019 - 11:36 pm

Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy had the quote of the morning Thursday after he was asked whether competing for home-ice advantage down the stretch was important.

“We’d like to have home-ice advantage, simple because it’s not called home-ice disadvantage, that’s why,” Cassidy said some eight hours before the Bruins hosted the Florida Panthers. “There is an advantage, so we want it.”

It didn’t always look like the Bruins were determined to get two points against the lottery-bound Panthers at TD Garden, but when the chips were down they miraculously pulled off just the second regulation victory in franchise history when trailing in the final minute of play.

Matt Grzelcyk (of all people) scored just his second goal of the season with 36.5 seconds remaining to tie the score, and then Patrice Bergeron scored his second goal of the game with 6.7 seconds left to give the Bruins a fifth straight win and an 18th straight game with a point (14-0-4).

The Bruins had every reason to lose this game. Bergeron said he thought the team was feeling tired, especially when it fell behind 2-0 in the second period. After rallying to tie the score on Bergeron’s first goal, Boston fell behind for a second time, 3-2, on a Jonathan Huberdeau spin-o-rama goal that took all the air out of TD Garden.

Having accumulated at least one point in 17 straight games, facing a team with nothing to play for, and knowing that eventually this streak is going to end, the Bruins could’ve packed up and returned to the Garden on Saturday in search of the start of another streak.

But that’s not how this Bruins team operates.

“Well … it definitely wasn’t our best night,” said forward Brad Marchand, who had three assists, including the primary on the game-winning goal. “You could feel that. You know when we’re playing well and when we’re not. It may creep into your mind a little bit here and there, but we have such good positive energy on the bench right now, and in the room, it’s pushed out very quickly. When they got that second one, yeah that was a tough one. But when there’s that much time left in the game, anything can happen. All it takes is for us to get one and you know we’ll feel real good about our game.”

The Bruins got that one from David Krejci after a great forecheck by David Backes and David Krejci after they had fallen behind 2-0 for the second straight game.

With Tuukka Rask pulled for an extra attacker Grzelcyk scored. And then rather than just take the one point and take their chances in overtime, the Bruins kept pushing until Bergeron scored.

“Special group for sure, it’s in our DNA now that we just don’t give up,” goaltender Tuukka Rask said. “We go about our business and just battle until the end and then like I said sometimes it pays off and sometimes it doesn’t.  I think that it’s is a special thing when you just don’t give up you keep plugging away and know that the good things are going to happen when you do that. They’ve been lately.”

The Bruins opened up a four-point lead on Toronto for second place in the Atlantic Division and first-round home-ice advantage. They’ve won nine straight home games.

Any doubts that they want that advantage were certainly erased by the dramatics of Thursday night.

Loose pucks

Rask is now 15-0-3 in his past 18 decisions with a 1.93 goals-against average and .931 save percentage in that span. To think that four months ago people were ready to turn this team over the Jaroslav Halak. … Jake DeBrusk was a late scratch with a lower-body injury. Cassidy said he didn’t think it was serious. … Backes got an assist on the Krejci goal after a big hit on the forecheck on Florida defenseman Josh Brown. He was an eclipse in front of Roberto Luongo on Grzelcyk’s goal. He didn’t get into a fight (so that’ll please the cognoscenti). He might not be the player he once was in St. Louis, but Backes still has something to give the Bruins as a complementary player, and even if he sometimes still has to drop the gloves.

 

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