BOSTON - Bruce Cassidy felt that he needed to send a message.
Midway through the first period on Sunday night, Cassidy stapled Jake DeBrusk to the bench for the final 11 minutes of the opening frame, believing that the winger had more to give, particularly when it came to the details of his game.
"There's details of the game that we expect," Cassidy explained. "It's a privilege to put on the Bruins sweater every night. And you might not have your A-game, but you've got to bring your B-game to help your team win and be a good pro. That's a little bit of the message between periods.
"I didn't think there was enough of that of late - wasn't always necessarily tonight, but it kind of festered itself tonight. We delivered it, moved on, and you hope the player takes it to heart and doesn't take it personal."
Message received. Response delivered.
After getting an opportunity during an extended third-period power play, DeBrusk came through with a strong answer to the benching, as he potted two goals just 18 seconds apart to break a tie and lift the Bruins to a 3-2 win over the Buffalo Sabres at TD Garden in Boston's final home game of the decade.
"I've done it since I've been here," said DeBrusk, whose tallies were his 10th and 11th of the season. "Any time things like that happen…any time you don't get your feet wet for a while, you want to respond and help the team. I was just trying to figure out my game…I did not know how it was going to go after that, to be honest with you."
Video: DeBrusk Scores Twice In 3-2 Win Over Buffalo
Fortunately for DeBrusk - and the Bruins - it went quite well as DeBrusk's back-to-back tallies helped propel Boston to its third consecutive victory and a sweep of the home-and-home set with the Sabres.
"Obviously lots of emotions going on," DeBrusk said when asked what he was thinking while he sat on the bench. "I obviously care and have pride in myself…it's one of those things that you never want to have happen as a player, but usually I respond pretty well so it was nice to get the two goals. It's my job on this team to score goals."
And that he did, leaving Cassidy quite pleased.
"You want a response in some way, shape, or form. Two goals is a good response," said Cassidy. "Go to the net, shoot the puck, get in the shooting lane when you need to, take a hit to get a puck out…when they stop responding, I'm probably out the door. That's probably what happens with a lot of coaches…you have to find a different way to send your message. Right now, they have responded.
"Listen, as long as it's not personal and you're trying to get them to play the right way, I think the guys will back you up on it, I really believe that. Only they can speak to that. So, that's what we've got to ensure, that the message is sent in the proper manner, pretty direct, and then give them an opportunity to play their way out of it."
DeBrusk's first tally came at 2:37 of the third period - and about 1:12 into a four-minute power play courtesy of consecutive tripping and hooking penalties on Johan Larsson - to give Boston a 2-1 advantage. As DeBrusk cut through the top of the Buffalo crease, he redirected a beautiful slap pass from Steven Kampfer by the blocker of Sabres goalie Linus Ullmark.
"It was more so just the right place at the right time," said DeBrusk. "I looked up and Kampfer has an underrated IQ - we made eye contact, but I knew he was coming. I was just thinking about where I was going to put it. I've missed a lot of those this year, so it was nice to see that one go in."
Video: BUF@BOS: DeBrusk scores second PPG of third period
Just 18 seconds later, DeBrusk was at it again as he potted his second of the power play thanks to a fortunate bounce. Kampfer started the sequence with a delayed drop pass to Krejci in the neutral zone, before Krejci fed DeBrusk at the Buffalo blue line.
DeBrusk surged down the left wing and threw the puck toward the net from deep in the corner hoping to connect with Krejci who was on the doorstep. Instead, the puck bounced up off of Ullmark's pad and trickled behind him to put the Bruins ahead, 3-1, at 2:55 of the third period.
"I was trying to pass it," DeBrusk admitted. "It was not meant to happen like that. I just saw it go in the net and it's one that, obviously, was a lucky bounce. It just caught some ice or something, but to go up 3-1 there was pretty nice."
In his second game back from Providence after injuries to Torey Krug and Charlie McAvoy required an emergency recall, Kampfer contributed with a solid 19:26 of ice time and the two third-period assists - his first two points of the season. It was only the second multi-point game of the blue liner's career and first since Jan. 13, 2011, his rookie season with the Black & Gold.
"To contribute offensively, to help the team win, is a huge bonus," said Kampfer. "To do it in the third period there is great, because we weren't really generating too much offensively before that."
Kampfer's role increased even more after Connor Clifton exited for the evening in the first period with an upper-body injury. Despite having suited up for just six games this season, Cassidy felt comfortable giving the veteran defenseman added responsibility.
"I think because he's been in the league, we know he can play," said Cassidy. "I think we know his strengths and his weaknesses…he can play on the power play - he's got a good shot, he sees the ice, so we try to ensure that when he's here in for someone, especially with a [Charlie] McAvoy out, that he gets those opportunities.
"We just try to find the balance for him. I think he's responded well to it. He's learned how to do that over the years, not play for long stretches and stay sharp…he did it last year without playing in long stretches, and that's a sign of a good pro. That's unfortunately his job description right now, and he's handled it well."
Video: BUF@BOS: DeBrusk redirects in Kampfer's shot for PPG
By the Numbers
- David Pastrnak potted his 29th goal of the season in the first period, finishing off a 2-on-1 with Brad Marchand to give the Bruins a 1-0 lead 12:39 and extend his point streak to seven games (3-9-12). He also picked up an assist on DeBrusk's first goal to match his career-high with helpers in six straight contests.
- Tuukka Rask stopped 24 of 26 shots for the win, pushing his home point streak to 15 games (10-0-5). That is the longest such streak to open a season since Gilles Gilbert's 17-game streak (16-0-1) in 1973-74.
- Boston finished the 2010s with a 234-113-48 record at TD Garden.
Video: DeBrusk scores twice as Bruins edge Sabres