Matt Beleskey scored his second goal of the season in a 4-0 win for the Bruins on Saturday. (Gregory J. Fisher/USA Today Sports)
After a three-game road trip in which the Bruins scored just four goals on a combined 100 shots with stops in Arizona, Colorado, and Minnesota, it turns out that a return back to the TD Garden ice was all the Bruins needed for a quick fix to their recent scoring woes.
Back in Boston for the start of a two-game homestand and start of an eight-day stretch with four of five games played in their home barn, the Bruins made up for their lost goals with four against the Jets’ Michael Hutchinson, and did it in their first 27 shots of the night.
With David Pastrnak out for the second straight contest, the Bruins responded to the loss of their leading goal scorer with a feverish pace that eluded the team on Thursday night, and jumped out to a 1-0 lead behind Matt Beleskey’s second goal of the season, banged home on a one-time blast 2:01 into the second period.
Less than 10 minutes later, it was Brad Marchand, who has been snakebit in recent days, that decided to join the party, with a goal that just straight-up undressed Hutchinson and put the Bruins up by two midway through the period. And it was Marchand’s linemate, the equally snakebitten Patrice Bergeron, that wrapped up a dominant third period with his first point in six games, to put the Bruins up 3-0 through 40 minutes of play.
A lead that was extended to four early in the third period with Tim Schaller’s third goal of the season.
But while the goals were impressive, it was the Bruins’ relentless defensive effort that once again stole the show in the club’s third straight win on home ice, as the Black and Gold held the Jets without a shot on goal for the final 13:48 of the second period, and just two even-strength shots through the opening 40 minutes of play.
The Jets ultimately broke through with an Adam Lowry goal scored with 2:40 left to go in the third period, but it didn’t matter, as the Bruins stifled the Jets to just 12 shots on goal in 60 minutes of play, their lowest of the season.
Here are four other things we learned in the victory
Julien tinkers with lines in third period
Holding a four-goal edge, the Bruins decided to tinker with their lines a bit in the third period of their victory. The big change: Ryan Spooner, a fixture on the left wing of a second line with David Krejci and David Backes, was bumped down to the fourth line where he skated as the center between Sean Kuraly and Jimmy Hayes. That moved Beleskey into Spooner’s old spot on the second line, while Schaller moved to the third line with Austin Czarnik and Dominic Moore. Overall, I’ve liked the idea of putting Beleskey with Krejci and Backes, as it gives the Black and Gold something somewhat close to the Lucic-Krejci-Horton/Iginla combo that they had during Krejci’s strongest seasons. But if you’re going to move Spooner around, you might as well put him in a third-line center role, a spot where he’s without question been at his best during his three years with the Bruins.
Defense holds Jets’ Laine in check
Saturday night at the Garden came with the Boston’s first look at the No. 2 overall pick from last summer, Patrick Laine. But you honestly would not have known it with the way the Black and Gold shut Laine down throughout the night. Frequently matched up against the Bruins’ Brandon Carlo, Laine’s attempts to drive to the net were consistently shut down by the 6-foot-5 Carlo, and his power-play chances were borderline nonexistent. The Finnish standout will finish his rookie season with zero goals and one assist on four shots on goal in two games against the Bruins.
Bruins remain limited on power play options
The Bruins came into tonight’s game without the focal point of their second power-play unit, David Pastrnak, and it didn’t take long for his loss to get exposed in the special teams game. With David Backes — the net-front presence on the club’s first unit — in the box on a roughing, Matt Beleskey moved up to the first unit from the second unit, and with two forwards already dropped back on the point on each unit (David Krejci on the first and Austin Czarnik on the second), the Bruins needed to find somebody, anybody to fill the void on their second unit. Insert fourth-line center Tim Schaller. An unusual pick, sure, the Bruins had Schaller serve as a net-front screener while Jimmy Hayes moved into more of a shooting-esque role on that secondary unit. There were a lot of mitigating factors that pressed Schaller into some power-play time, no doubt, but it’s slightly alarming how quickly this team can run out of go-to scorers on the man advantage, isn’t it? Frank Vatrano, by the way, should be back next month.
Return to Garden ice comes with extra bite in B’s game
For the first time since Nov. 2015, the Bruins have wins in three consecutive games at home. And they’ve come with a bit of a budding identity for the B’s, too. With each shift, the Bruins punished the Jets with physical, grind it out battles along the walls and in the corners, and really took the Jets out of this game with statement shift after statement shift. If that continues, the Bruins can get a hit-loving Garden crowd on their side, and return this building to its status as one of the tougher rinks in the NHL.
The Bruins are back at it on Tuesday night against the St. Louis Blues.