Coming off the all-star break the Boston Bruins had a formidable match up as the Central Division leading Winnipeg Jets rolled into TD Garden on the second half of a back to back.
The Bruins looked like a team fresh off a week long break. The Jets however, did not. Boston had a jump to begin the game and it'd materialize into the game's first goal. Naturally, the top line got it done with as Brad Marchand and all-star David Pastrnak teamed up to set up Patrice Bergeron who blasted a shot through Hellebuyck for his 15th of the season.
Jets' starter and former UMass Lowell product Connor Hellebuyck was the sole reason why the Jets stayed in the game throughout the first period. With his team trailing 1-0 and out shot he made a fantastic pad save to rob Bergeron off a two on one with roughly seven minutes left in the period.
The Jets would give their goaltender some support scoring five seconds into a power-play. Defenseman Josh Morrissey fired a point shot through a screen that beat Jaroslav Halak to tie the game up at one.
The Bruins continued to pile up shots and would themselves score a power-play goal. After a flurry of chances Marchand found Pastrnak from the top of the left circle and the Bruins' winger powered a one-timer past Hellebuyck for his 28th goal of the season
The Bruins piled on a 20-8 shot advantage after the first period with the Bergeron line already combining for five points.
The middle stanza saw things balance out in terms of shots and goals scored. The scoreless frame still brought its share of excitement as the physicality between the two sides ramped up.
Kevan Miller and Adam Lowry scrapped in the right corner of the Bruins' zone late in the period. This tilt would ultimately set up a larger altercation in the Winnipeg zone.
After Hellebuyck tied the puck up a scrum ensued in front. Jets' defenseman Tyler Myers wrapped up Bruins' rookie Trent Frederic who then found himself paired off in a fight with Brandon Tanev.
The kid knew how to make a first impression as he rocked Tanev and electrified the Garden crowd which included his parents in attendance.
The Jets outshot the Bruins 9-5 to narrow the shots on goal total down to 25-17. The Bruins would enter the third period in the drivers seat, however, that'd all change very quickly.
Kyle Connor, one of a few players passed up by Don Sweeney in 2015, perhaps left Bruins' fans with an even more bitter taste in their mouths after he buried his 20th goal of the season to tie the game up at two.
To make it even better just 34 seconds later Connor finished off a pretty passing play for his 21st of the season. The quick offensive strike all of a sudden saw Winnipeg take the lead.
Fortunately for the Bruins, they've got the Bergeron line. Call it a blessing or curse one things for certain, this game should've clearly shown Bruins fans and wannabe GM's alike that the Bruins need a scorer, not toughness or grit, but an actual goal scorer. Eight of Boston's nine points registered this game came from the same three players: 37, 63, and 88
Bergeron, who started the scoring, would be the one to tie it with his second of the game. On a similar play that saw him get robbed earlier in the game by Hellebuyck Bergeron made no mistake roofing the shot over the massive goaltender after receiving a beautiful pass from Marchand.
Regulation would end and overtime solved nothing either so on to the dreaded shootout. Kyle Connor scored in the opening round for the Jets and that's all they'd need as Hellebuyck stopped all three Bruins shooters and the Jets picked up two points on the road.
For Hellebuyck he picked up his 22nd win of the season stopping 36 of 39 shots. For Halak he falls to 13-9-3 stopping 24 of 27 shots in defeat. He is now 0-3-1 in his last four starts giving up 12 goals over that span.
Final: Winnipeg 4 Boston 3
The Bruins are back at it on Thursday, January 31st, when they welcome the Philadelphia Flyers to Boston. Puck drop from the TD Garden is set for 7:00 P.M.
The Jets return home on Thursday where they'll face off against Columbus. Puck drop from Bell MTS Place is set for 8:00 P.M.
Photo Credit: (Charles Krupa/Associated Press)