While Winter Storm Niko was dumping over a foot of snow on Massachusetts, the B’s dumped six goals on the San Jose Sharks in a 6-3 win inside the TD Garden on Thursday night.
Patrice Bergeron had four points, with one goal and three assists, while David Backes (one goal, two assists), David Pastrnak (two power-play goals), and Brad Marchand (one goal, one assist) all added multiple-point performances for the Bruins. Backes led the team with seven shots on goal just a couple hours after B’s President Cam Neely called him out (among others) for underperforming this season during a radio appearance.
The Bruce Cassidy era started with a bang, as the Bruins (27-23-6) scored three goals in the first period to take a 3-1 lead into the first intermission.
Just 52 seconds into the contest, Backes got on the board for his 12th goal of the season, taking a crisp backhand pass from Torey Krug and rifling it past Sharks goalie (and former Bruin) Martin Jones. Krug jumped into the play and was below the circle against the boards when he took the puck from linemate David Krejci and found Backes, who had found some open ice to the right of Jones.
After another former Bruin Joe Thornton tied the game at 1-1, Boston scored two goals in 1:39 to take the two goal lead. Brandon Carlo fired a wrist shot from the point onto net which was saved by Jones. Both Backes and Bergeron were creating traffic in front, and Backes jammed the puck through the goaltender’s legs. The puck stopped short of the goal line, but Bergeron was right there to tuck it in for his 14th tally of the season with 4:08 remaining in the first.
The B’s went on the power play soon after, as the Sharks were called for having six skaters on the ice, and the recently-potent man advantage struck yet again. A rare faceoff loss in the San Jose end gave the Sharks possession behind their net, but they could not get the puck out of harm’s way, as Bergeron was able to claim the puck before sending a gorgeous pass cross-ice to Pastrnak. Pasta buried a one-timer up high over Jones for his 23rd goal of the season. Both Bergeron and Backes ended the first period with a goal and an assist, as the new first line put on the ice by Cassidy seemed to be clicking right away.
The Sharks (33-18-4) switched netminders after 20 minutes of action, as backup Aaron Dell took over for Jones, who allowed three goals on 12 Bruins’ shots. The change in net sparked the offense, as they took advantage of two consecutive icing calls to make it 3-2 on a goal from Justin Braun that deflected off a Bruins’ player (possibly Carlo) past Tuukka Rask.
San Jose had a strong penalty kill midway through the second period, then rolled out their top line against the Bruins’ fourth line to try to take advantage of some momentum. Instead, the B’s had a terrific shift that ended with Tim Schaller’s seventh goal of the year to regain Boston’s two goal lead. Dominic Moore took the puck from behind the net and found Riley Nash, who sent a shot in on Dell. The backup goalie made the stop but let the rebound trickle right to Schaller, who went five-hole after being positioned near the crease.
The Sharks made the mistake of giving the Bruins another power play late in the second, and the B’s added to their lead with less than a minute remaining in the middle period. Ryan Spooner, Marchand, and Bergeron all touched the puck in rapid fashion before Bergeron sent the puck across to Pastrnak. Pasta had the whole net empty, and buried a quick wrist shot that easily beat a sprawling Dell and rung posts on both sides of the net for his second power play goal of the night.
San Jose cut their deficit to two goals with 2:37 left in regulation on a goal from Timo Meier, but the B’s sealed the deal with an empty-net goal from Marchand assisted by Bergeron and Backes with 30 seconds left for the 6-3 victory.
Rask ended the night with 23 saves for his 25th win of the season (25-13-4, 2.31 GAA).
The Bruins will end their four-game homestand with back-to-back games this weekend, starting with a Saturday matinee tilt with the Vancouver Canucks. Puck drop is at 1pm.
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