Danton Heinen, Jake DeBrusk among Bruins’ bright spots in loss to Leafs

Matt Kalman
October 19, 2019 - 10:53 pm

Some players need smelling salts on the bench to wake them up, others tear open mustard packets with their teeth and inhale the contents to get their juices flowing.

For maybe the first time this season Bruins forwards Danton Heinen and Jake DeBrusk had real jump in their strides Saturday, and all it took was a whiff of the Toronto air and the first showdown of the season with the archrival Maple Leafs.

Although Heinen’s first goal since opening night and DeBrusk’s first goal of the season weren’t enough to prevent the Bruins from losing 4-3 in overtime, they earned another point against a divisional foe – this time on the road (after losing 4-3 in a shootout at home to Tampa Bay Thursday) – and outshot the Maple Leafs 46-29, hinting that they probably deserved more than they got on the scoreboard.

Most importantly, eight of those 46 shots on net came from Heinen (three) and DeBrusk (five).

“I’m confident in my shot, I just need to tell myself to get it away quicker and shoot more,” Heinen told WEEI.com shortly before the start of the regular season. “So I think I’ve worked on my shot a ton over the years and I think I’ve developed it a lot over the last few years. So for me it’s just telling myself to shoot more and get it away quicker.”

Well the 24-year-old hadn’t been taking his own advice, and he went into the Toronto game averaging just one shot per game. His three shots against the Maple Leafs tied a season high, and his power-play goal 1:36 into the third period tied the score 2-2 on a perfect snipe from the right circle.

Heinen was doing more than shooting and that’s why coach Bruce Cassidy played the left-shot wing 15:02, the most since opening night, including 6:02 of the third period. He blocked a couple shots and had his nose in the battle most of the night.

DeBrusk was lamenting his lack of goals through seven games and lack of aggressiveness Friday before the Bruins left for Toronto. He turned his words into actions and got off the schneid with 21 seconds left in the first period by, wouldn’t you know it, going to the net to cash in on a Charlie Coyle backhand feed.

There was more of 2018-19 Jake DeBrusk through a season-high 21:13 of ice time Saturday then we’d seen all season total. He and Coyle seem to be building chemistry similar to DeBrusk’s synergy with injured center David Krejci, and knowing DeBrusk and his streakiness, we’re probably in store for a few more goals over the next week or so.

David Pastrnak had to score his ninth goal of the season to get the Bruins back even with 4:26 left in regulation after they’d coughed up the lead again. And Morgan Rielly's tip-in from the slot eluded Jaroslav Halak in the extra session to send the Bruins to a second consecutive loss for the first time this season.

But in terms of losses that can be built on, this one fit the bill, especially considering the Bruins’ desperate search for secondary scoring. They hadn’t gotten a goal from a forward outside of their first line in two games, and hadn’t gotten one from a forward not on the first line or not named Joakim Nordstrom since Heinen’s goal in Dallas on Oct. 3.

Two in one night was an absolute bonanza of secondary scoring that should help Cassidy sleep better when the team returns from Toronto, and should be the starting point of Heinen and DeBrusk becoming offensive threats on a nightly basis again.