The Bruins ended their four-game losing streak Tuesday. (Winslow Townson/USA Today Sports)
Nothing comes as a surprise with these Bruins anymore. In fact, by now, you sort of expected what happened Tuesday to happen.
It was the ending, however, that you did not expect.
A day after an intense video session, the Bruins came out of the gates flying against a shorthanded Red Wings team. They pummeled the first 12 shots of the game on Wings netminder Jared Coreau, and had a 1-0 lead behind Kevan Miller’s first goal of the season, scored 3:39 into the first period. But as the clock ticked without a shot from the Red Wings, and with the recent history between these two teams (when the Red Wings overcame a Bruins-heavy first period and won 6-5 after being down 4-1 just six days ago), you knew the danger that would follow.
Without a shot on goal during the first TV timeout, and still without a shot to their name by the time the second timeout rolled around, Mike Green found a speeding Andreas Athanasiou through the sea of Zdeno Chara and Brandon Carlo and in alone on Tuukka Rask.
Athanasiou, naturally, did not miss.
And just like that, all the momentum that the Bruins had seemingly established with a dogged puck-pursuit game and countless one-on-one victory battles in the opening half of the period, went out the window. Sure, the Bruins lead in shots by a 12-1 mark, but they were tied 1-1 on the scoreboard, and that’s all that truly matters for this club given their straight-up dire situation.
The Bruins regained the lead by the end of the first period thanks to a power-play goal scored by Brad Marchand for his 17th goal of the season, but the mindset had already established, or so it felt, and no in a good way. No matter what the Bruins did with the puck, no matter how many shots they took, you just had a feeling that the Wings were still in control of their own fate in this one.
Predictably, the Wings found breaks behind a fortunate bounce off Miller and into the B’s net at the 6:25 mark of the second period, and another one when Tomas Tatar snuck a bad goal under Rask and into the back of the net for a Red Wings lead.
Left to fight from behind to begin the third period for the 21st time on the year — the Bruins entered the third with just one win and five of a possible 40 points in such scenarios — it looked as if the Black and Gold were going to do yet another fade to black.
The Bruins padded their shot totals with low-percentage looks from just inside the blue line, but with nothing of actual substance, the fruitless search for an equalizer raged on against the Wings’ Coreau, who looked like a goalie breaking new gear in with ease.
But it was the Bruins’ best three-man unit all year long — Marchand, Patrice Bergeron, and David Pastrnak — reunited for this game with the B’s in desperation mode, that would create the scramble in front of Coreau, and Marchand that would tuck the game-tying marker through Coreau for his second of the night and his 19th of the season to give the B’s life.
The frustration of 17,565 in the crowd turned to hope, and the Bruins were seemingly snapped out of their Groundhog Day-esque run of futility and with the help of a last-second stop on Darren Helm, the Bruins forced overtime.
And in the overtime, it was Pastrnak, with space and some dramatics of a Toronto-initiated review to give it some added flavor, that pumped home the slide-snapping goal for his 20th of the season, and his first in 17 games.
OK, so maybe they’re not out of surprises just yet.