The things that made Patrice Bergeron’s 1,000th game extra special

Matt Kalman
February 05, 2019 - 11:41 pm

On a night to celebrate the Bruins player that most defines class and grace, TD Garden turned into a carnival Tuesday.

And Patrice Bergeron, playing in his 1,000th NHL game, had a front-row seat to all the festivities during the Bruins’ 3-1 win.

It started with more than two dozen members of the Super Bowl champion New England Patriots making their way to center ice for the ceremonial puck drop before Super Bowl MVP Julian Edelman spiked the puck in between Bergeron and New York Islanders captain Anders Lee.

Then, as though the hockey gods scripted it, Bergeron scored the first goal of the game 2:32 into the second period. Before the night was through the Bruins earned a rare win on a coach’s challenge to nullify an Islanders goal, Peter Cehlarik scored the go-ahead goal 6:34 into the third period on a shot that banked off sprawled-out goaltender Robin Lehner, and David Pastrnak ignored an empty net in order to allow Bergeron to cap the night with his second goal of the game.

But the wild night didn’t end there because after Bergeron made sure to high five and hug every teammate on the way off the ice, captain Zdeno Chara high fived Bergeron and lifted him off the ground in a bear hug before skating over and depositing him by the door to the runway.

“Yeah, I wanted to get back down but I couldn’t. He had a pretty strong grip but obviously that was pretty funny. But I don’t know if I want to see that video,” Bergeron said.

Bear hugs aside, Bergeron will want to watch this one over and over. It may have been just a regular-season game in February but, much like the Winter Classic last month, a momentous occasion is a heck of a lot better to look back on when it comes with a ‘W' and the Bruins played with the grit of a team desperate for that win.

Bergeron became just the fifth Bruins player – along with Ray Bourque, Johnny Bucyk, Don Sweeney and Wayne Cashman – to reach a four-digit game total.

“It feels good. It feels good to get the win, basically,” Bergeron said. “That’s what I told the guys before the game. As much as it is just another game, a regular-season game, it’s still a special game and something that I wanted to win and it was a great team effort.”

Against the Metropolitan Division leaders the Bruins blocked 17 shots and threw 25 hits. In a battle two heavy teams, the Bruins played with a playoff mentality and got 28 timely saves from Tuukka Rask, who also was part of the midway show when he was honored during a first-period television timeout for setting the Bruins’ all-time wins record in their last game against Washington on Sunday. A message was shown on the scoreboard and Rask acknowledged the crowd's ovation with a wave of his stick.

This game had everything but a bearded lady.

“Did you really expect anything else?” Bergeron’s long-time linemate Brad Marchand, who had two assists, said about Bergeron shining on his big night. “You know like that guy he just steps up in every situation and you know he’s going to have a big game on a milestone night like tonight. It was great to see. He’s one of the top players in the game for a reason, he steps up in big moments and did that again tonight.”

As humble as he is proficient on faceoffs and accurate with his one-timer from the slot, Bergeron didn’t want too much attention on him during the game. He said he couldn’t wait until the puck was dropped when his milestone was acknowledged on the video board. And he had no problem sharing some of the early-game spotlight with the Patriots.

“Yeah, thank God. That was perfect. I was very happy with that,” he said.

Bergeron may have thanked a higher power but the multiple ovations from the crowd were Boston’s thanks to Bergeron, while the win and, yes, the bear hug, were thanks from his teammates.

For one night, life was a carnival. Bergeron, class personified, didn’t look out of place.

Related: On eve of Bergeron's 1,000th game, looking back at his first