BOSTON — It’s a foregone conclusion that the Bruins will lose a hockey game in regulation at some point this season. That point appeared to be Tuesday night at TD Garden.
Playing their second game in as many days, the Bruins had a well-rested, red-hot New Jersey Devils team waiting for them in Boston. The B’s returned from Carolina around 1 a.m. Tuesday morning, with only a few hours to rest before completing their first back-to-back of the season.
And for almost 56 minutes, it looked like the Bruins were destined to suffer their first regulation loss of the season. The legs didn’t appear to be there, and as a result the offense was missing. Johan Hedberg, making his first start since April, looked destined to record the 22nd shutout of his career.
But if there’s one thing the Bruins have showed through just a handful of games this season, it’s that they’re a resilient bunch. They proved that in the biggest way Tuesday, coming from behind to beat the Devils in the shootout.
The Bruins continued their dream start with the shootout win, running their record to 5-0-1. It’s the first time since 1970 that the B’s have notched a point in their first six games.
With the Bruins just 4:05 away from not joining the 70-71 club in the record books, Nathan Horton once again reminded everyone that he saves his best for last. The bruising forward has shown no ill effects from the concussion issues that plagued him a year ago. His entire Bruins career has been marked by a penchant for scoring the big goal, and he continued that by beating Hedberg five-hole to get the equalizer.
“We really came out strong in the third period,” head coach Claude Julien said. “Those back-to-back games with travel are not easy to work through and I’m really proud of the way the guys handled it. Obviously we were a determined group in the third period and [Horton], who has been playing better and better every game, came through with the big goal.”
Just getting a point by tying the game late would be a victory by itself, but the Bruins weren’t done there. They improbably battled through an overtime period and six shootout rounds to grab the extra point and send the sellout crowd home happy.
The Bruins will take any win and any points at this point. There is still a ton of hockey to be played, but you can’t help but feel the sense of confidence around this team right now. They’re a club that expects to win.
And why not? Maybe this is what should have been expected of this Bruins team from the beginning. They’re two years removed from winning the Stanley Cup and they’re coming off an extended offseason in which they got the rest they didn’t get the summer before. They’re a deep team with a good goaltender. They have forwards who can not only score, but are good in their own zone.
Maybe this resiliency and determination should be what we expect of them by now.
“We’ve got a lot of guys who were here when we won [the Stanley Cup]. When we did that, we were through every situation you could think of,” said Brad Marchand, who beat Hedberg with the eventual game-winner in the shootout. “We know that it’s not over until the buzzer goes, and we’ve shown that a couple of times already.”
It’s imperative that the Bruins cling to this mindset moving forward. Believe it or not, there will come a time when they aren’t able to pull two points out of thin air. There will come a point where a back-to-back really does catch up with them.
When that comes is still anyone’s guess. What we do know already, though, is that when that does come, the B’s will be more than ready to bounce back.