Greg M. Cooper/USA Today Sports

Bruins 2, Jets 1: Charlie McAvoy caps 20th birthday with shootout winner

Ty Anderson
December 21, 2017 - 11:29 pm

Bruins head coach Bruce Cassidy gave phenom defenseman Charlie McAvoy, who said goodbye to his teenage years when he woke up this morning, the best birthday gift of all: A seven-spot promotion in the Black and Gold’s shootout lineup.

It paid off, too, as McAvoy sealed the deal of a 2-1 shootout final over the Jets.

“We’re not in a lot of [shootouts>, so yes, he has moved up the charts,” Cassidy said. “I think last time he shot about tenth and it was just a hunch. He seems to rise up to these moments, and we battled hard for that extra point. It’s always nice to have a win, even though it’s one point, it always sounds better, and it’s always nice at home, too.”

And with matching shootout goals from the Jets’ Bryan Little and Boston’s David Pastrnak, it was in the bottom of the fourth round that McAvoy barreled down towards Connor Hellebuyck, broke the tie, and rifled the game-winner on his blocker side.

“I know it’s a little bit more of a high percentage play for myself to try and shoot it versus a deke, especially when the ice is the way it is,” McAvoy, who is now 2-for-2 in his shootout career, said. “I tried to change the angle right away, not come down on him. Just straight-up kind of make him change his own angle a bit, and I saw some room on the blocker side and I just wanted to shoot it there before he was able to recover.”

But McAvoy’s winner was just the icing on the birthday cake of what was a solid defensive effort headlined by a season-high 37 saves from Tuukka Rask.

“Cherry on top of a great effort by our team,” McAvoy, quickly trying to pass the credit, said. “You know, no matter who’s in the lineup we, you know, we look at our chart and we say that’s the winning lineup. Regardless of who’s hurt or, you know, who’s sick or what’s happening in our room, we always feel like we can win if we play the right way, and tonight we did for 65 minutes and played good, and we were trying to stick to our identity there and, you know, it goes all the way there, the distance, and you know, we were able to come out on top. We feel really good about ourselves in here.”

And much like the game that Anton Khudobin delivered in Buffalo, which came with Khudobin carrying a straight-up dead-legged B’s team for nearly two periods before they scored a goal in support of his efforts, this was the kind of night that required the absolute best from the 30-year-old Rask. Not only was this Boston’s third game in four nights, but the Bruins were without two players due to illness, and had more than their fair share of players in action and successfully battling through a similar illness.

“He knew that we were going to be, I don’t want to say, offensively challenged, but some players out of the lineup, and some players in the lineup that generally give us a lot of offense were going to be fighting it a bit, so he stepped up,” Cassidy said of Rask’s winning performance. “When Tuukka came around, I thought we were playing very well in front of him, and on a night like tonight when he had to be a little bit better, he was. It is almost like the guys are looking out for each other on the nights when they need to, and that is the sign of a good team. Those are the teams that end up getting the points and winning. We are in that mode right now, and we want to stay in it.”

That sick group, by the way, includes Rask.

“I’m one of those guys,” Rask admitted. “I’m fine. It’s just going around a little bit.”

Along with some birthday cake.

For those well enough to digest their food, anyways. 

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