Another day at the office for Patrice Bergeron
Playing in his 1000th career National Hockey League game, all Patrice Bergeron wanted from a milestone night was the Bruins second consecutive win. Not only did the Bruins get the win, Bergeron’s two goals helped accomplish that goal.
“Yeah, feels good to get the win, basically. You know, that’s what I told the guys before the game,” said Bergeron. “As much as it is just another regular season game, a special game, sorry, and something that I wanted to win, and you know, it was a great team effort.”
Scoreless to start the second period, Bergeron snuck a loose puck past Islanders goalie Robin Lehner, just under three minutes into the middle stanza to the give the Bruins the 1-0 lead. After Jordan Eberle’s power play tally tied the game at one, the two teams needed the third period to decide a winner.
After winning a faceoff in their own end, the Islanders used the faceoff to send themselves in transition and into a Cal Clutterbuck tally that briefly gave the Islanders their first lead of the game.
But after a way-too-long coaches challenge, the play was deemed offside and the Bruins were bailed out by the close call.
“Just looking at it real quickly, I thought it was offside, but it was a lot closer than obviously I thought it was, so it’s a game of inches,” said Islanders head coach Barry Trotz. “If you’re one inch on the blue line there, you know, that’s probably defining. We didn’t take advantage of that extra inch, and we got a goal called back.”
The Bruins turned catching a break into a reward as Peter Cehlarik scored 2:40 after the offsides call.
After Matt Grzelcyk was assessed four minutes in penalties for two separate infractions, Tuukka Rask—as he did for most of the night—came up with several key saves to keep the Bruins lead at one.
One game removed from becoming the Bruins goalie leader in wins, Rask stopped 28 shots on a night where defensively, I thought the Bruins didn’t give Rask much help.
But head coach Bruce Cassidy, who obviously knows a heck of a lot more than I do, didn't mind the play in front of Rask.
“We played pretty well in front of Tuukka. He was there for us again, so our structure was good. Penalty kill excellent in the third,” said Cassidy.
“We’ve had some issues with that at home in the third, protecting leads. Tonight, we did. They did a real good job. Probably the difference in the game.”
Shortly after Rask and the Bruins killed the four-minute Islanders power play, it was Bergeron again, this time wrapping things up with the empty-net goal. A goal that came thanks to an unselfish David Pastrnak.
Racing in all alone with nothing but a vacated net ahead of him, Pastrnak took a few looks over the shoulder before dropping a pass back to Bergeron, handing the man-of-the-night his 18th goal of the season.
“That’s the respect they have for Patrice,” added Cassidy. “I think in that particular situation and for one and other.”
Even though it was a simple drop of the puck and a goal for Bergeron, he certainly appreciated what Pastrnak did for him.
“Yeah, you know, means a lot obviously. I was surprised. I saw him look a couple times. I was like oh no, he’s going to drop it, but we were definitely alone and very much appreciate it,” added Bergeron.
Because of how humble he is, Bergeron will try and lead you to believe that Tuesday was just another night at the office in what has been a tremendous career as a Bruin. But as much as he would like to, Bergeron can’t hide from how special this night was for him.
“Yeah, it was special. I just wanted them to drop the puck basically, but it was special. It’s always a little awkward for me, but I very much appreciate it of course. It’s been 15-16 years…15 here, 16 with the organization…it has a special place in my heart obviously. Boston, it’s been great,” said Bergeron.
The night didn’t completely belong to Bergeron, however. Fresh off their sixth Super Bowl victory and a parade down Boylston Street earlier in the day, the Super Bowl champion New England Patriots were honored prior to the game.
Bergeron was happy they were there to take some of the spotlight away from himself.
“Yeah, thank God. That was perfect. I was very happy with that,” said Bergeron. “There was so many of them too. It was actually great to see, and you know, they came in the locker room before the game and we told them obviously we were cheering for them and it was an amazing ride again this year.”
The spotlight will once again be on Bergeron Saturday afternoon, and this time, there won’t be any Super Bowl champions there to share it with him.
The Bruins will honor Bergeron and his 1000 game accomplishment prior to Saturday’s contest with the Kings.
Bergeron and the Bruins would enjoy another Boston victory over Los Angeles.