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Bruins pummel Red Wings, revive playoff hopes

April 8, 2016, 2:40 AM ET [18 Comments]
Ty Anderson
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Powered by two goals in the opening three minutes of the game, goals that came just 1:19 apart, and five in total on the night, the Boston Bruins are still alive and (slightly) in control of their own fate this spring after Thursday night’s 5-2 decimation of the Detroit Red Wings at TD Garden.

“I think it was one of our obviously better efforts in quite awhile,” Boston coach Claude Julien said of the victory. “From start to finish the effort we put on at both ends of the ice, but also through the middle of the ice there - taking their speed away. Our guys really did a good job tonight.”

For the Bruins, the big difference came in that aforementioned start that saw the Bruins come through with two goals on their first four shots of the night, courtesy of a breakaway strike from David Pastrnak, and the 37th goal of the year from Brad Marchand just moments later.

“That made a huge difference,” admitted Julien. “We talked about getting off to a real good start [against] a team that had played last night so we wanted to come out strong and we did. Not only that, we managed to get some quick goals here so that made a big difference. Obviously with what we’ve been going through here just kind of gave our guys some real good confidence there and loosened them up a little bit and took off from there. There’s no doubt that was certainly one of the keys to the game.”

But even when the Red Wings found their opportunity to get back into this game with two first-period penalties from Adam McQuaid, the Boston penalty kill repeatedly challenged the Wings’ man advantage with puck battles and high-speed plays that really seemed intent on breaking their will.

“We closed on them very quickly,” B’s netminder Tuukka Rask, who faced just 15 shots, said. “We didn’t give them too much time to enter. We blocked a lot of shots, probably as many as they had on net and when you do those things I think it takes a lot of opportunities away from the other team.”

The Bruins extended their lead to 3-0 behind Torey Krug’s first goal in 54 games, and though the Wings brought themselves within two behind an Alexey Marchenko goal, this game was all Boston.

With two goals in the opening 45 seconds of the third period -- the first from Lee Stempniak and the second from Loui Eriksson -- the Bruins chased Jimmy Howard.

Detroit finished the game with just two third-period shots, but made their final one count, as Andreas Athanasiou came through with his ninth goal of the year.

“It’s always about the next game,” Patrice Bergeron said of the win and how the team needs to move forward. “And now it’s all about Ottawa, and being ready for that game.”

Random thoughts and notes

- OK, you’re wondering, so let’s break it down right away.

If the Bruins win against the Ottawa Senators on Saturday…
*They will finish third in the Atlantic if Detroit loses in regulation or wins in a shootout over the New York Rangers. That would tie the two in ROWs (regulation and overtime wins), and then hold the second tiebreaker over the club, as they won the season series, three games to one.
*They will finish in the second wild card if Philadelphia goes 1-0-1 or worse based on ROW tiebreaker, as Boston would finish with 38 or 39 versus Philadelphia’s 37 or 36.

If the Bruins lose against the Senators on Saturday…
*The Bruins can only get into the playoffs with a regulation loss if the Flyers go 0-1-1 or 0-2-0.

If the Bruins lose against the Senators in overtime/shootout…
*A Bruins overtime loss would put them third in the Atlantic if the Wings lose in regulation.
*The Bruins would remain in the second wild card with an overtime loss so long as the Flyers do not go 2-0-0 or 1-0-1 over their final two games of the regular season.

It’s also worth noting that if all three teams -- the Bruins, Flyers, and Wings -- win out, then it’s the Bruins that will be the odd team out and miss the playoffs as the 9th seed for the second year in a row.

- With Eriksson’s goal, the Bruins now have three 30-goal scorers on their roster this season (Bergeron and Marchand are the other two), and it’s the first the feat has been accomplished since 2002-03, when the Bruins had three 30-goal scorers in Mike Knuble, Glen Murray, and Joe Thornton.

- Speaking of goals: Marchand scored his 37th of the season tonight, which is the highest by any Bruin since Murray’s 44 goals in that 2002-03 season, and it’s only the most scored by any Julien-coached Bruins squad, breaking Phil Kessel’s 36-goal plateau reached in 2008-09.

Those 37 goals also earned Marchand the NESN 7th Player Award, as voted by the fans.

“It’s great,” Marchand said of the award. “You know the fans here are incredible and it’s always great to have support from them, so definitely honored to get that award.”

The Podcast to be Named Later with Andy Merritt and Ty Anderson

Episode 17: We talk about the B's huge win over the Red Wings, the playoff picture, and what's next for the Black and Gold. And we dish on a little Frozen Four action, too.

Up next

It’s Game No. 82, and it’s against the Ottawa Senators. The Sens are riding high after their 3-1 victory over the Florida Panthers on Thursday night, but let’s be real, this is not a great Ottawa club, and with their playoff fate (basically) on the line, you expect a charged up Bruins squad to do their part to make sure they return to the postseason. At the same time, isn’t that why you’d expect them to struggle?

Ty Anderson has been covering the National Hockey League for HockeyBuzz.com since 2010, has been a member of the Pro Hockey Writers Association's Boston Chapter since 2013, and can be contacted on Twitter, or emailed at Ty.AndersonHB[at]gmail.com.
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