Bruins look like their old selves in 5-2 win over Wild

Steve Conroy, Boston Herald on

Published in Hockey

After baby-stepping their way back to their identity with their victory in Winnipeg on Thursday, the Bruins took a giant step on Saturday.

Facing a Minnesota Wild team that had not lost in regulation in 14 games and was a point out of first place in the Central Division, the Bruins were the better team in an entertaining, playoff-favored contest, taking a 5-2 win at Xcel Energy Center.

Linus Ullmark, shaking off a rare so-so game in Chicago on Tuesday, was back to his standard, making 29 saves.

There were no passengers in the Bruins' victory, including their video coaches, who challenged two Wild goals for offsides and were successful on both.

The Bruins took a 3-1 lead into the third and appeared to be in control of the game when Jake DeBrusk took a slashing penalty. Seconds later, Freddie Gaudreau made a nice pass from the corner to Oskar Sundqvist and the former Blue jammed it home at 7:17 to pull Minnesota to within a goal.

But the Bruins went back to work after that and regained their two-goal lead at 12:22. On one of the Bruins' many good, grinding O-zone shifts, Brad Marchand (three assists) took the puck behind the net and fed Patrice Bergeron for his 25th goal of the year.

Trent Frederic finished it off with an empty-netter with 1:57 left.

The teams traded goals in a fast-paced first. The Bruins carried the play early and held an 8-3 shot advantage, but for the fourth time in the last five games, they allowed the first goal.

The Bruins were forcing the issue in the offensive zone with Brandon Carlo going in deep, but the Wild were able to break out of the zone in transition on a 3-on-1. Carlo made a good effort to get back and nearly break up the play but Joel Eriksson Ek was able to hang on to the puck through Carlo’s poke check attempt to get it down low to Matt Boldy. With essentially a 2-on-0, Boldy fed Marcus Johansson for an easy goal at 9:45.


It appeared as though the Wild took a 2-0 lead just seconds after the Bruins had killed a penalty when Matt Dumba scored from the slot. But the Bruins challenged for offside and the replay showed that Connor Dewar was clearly in the zone ahead of the puck.

Then late in the period, the Bruins evened it. After one of several dominant shifts by the Charlie Coyle line, the Bergeron line took over. Bergeron tracked down a loose puck on the left half wall and spotted DeBrusk, the last member of the line to change on. Bergeron hit him in stride and DeBrusk beat goalie Filip Gustavsson with a high wrist shot with 1:22 left in the period, DeBrusk’s 21st goal.

The Bruins held a 17-9 shot advantage in the first, but the Wild had some good chances.

In a chippy second period, the Bruins took a lead on David Pastrnak’s first power-play goal in 22 games.

Jon Merrill took two consecutive stick fouls, the first one a retaliatory slash after a hard Garnet Hathaway hit and then a high stick on Trent Frederic. The Bruins cashed in on the second one at 8:43. Pastrnak took a feed from Hampus Lindholm at the left circle and, instead of his patented one-timer, he stepped to the middle of the ice and beat Gustavsson with a wrist shot past the glove.

It appeared as though the Bruins handed it right back to the Wild less than a minute later when Charlie McAvoy turned the puck over in deep in the Boston end and Boldy slipped it past Ullmark. But coach Jim Montgomery challenged for another offside and this one was a lot closer. But it was determined that earlier on the initial rush that Boldy put himself offside when he passed just before blue line.

The Bruins then pushed their lead to 3-1 at 14:03 off a terrific offensive zone shift from the Czech line. David Krejci eventually took a feed from Pavel Zacha and snaked his way into the slot. His backdoor pass attempt for McAvoy went off Johansson’s stick and found the back of the net for his 14th goal.

White-knuckle time arrived late in the period when Lindholm (cross-checking) and Dmitry Orlov (delay) headed to the box 37 seconds apart, giving the Wild a lengthy 5-on-3. But Ullmark made came up with several big stops and the Bruins survived the two-man-down situation.

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