This game, they played the full 60 minutes. They were relentless in all three zones, from start to finish. The offense was clicking, the defense was staunch and the goalie was perfect.
And in the end, the Bruins had their first home win of 2015-16 to show for it, a 6-0 triumph over Arizona at TD Garden.
“Starting [the season] at home, with the new faces we had and everything — I’m not making excuses, but it’s almost like we were trying to put on a show and trying to impress people and say, ‘This is what we have,’” said defenseman Torey Krug. “And then we went on the road and we dumbed the game down — simplified ourselves and just played really basic hockey. And it turned out to be a lot more fun for us.
“So if we just capture this feeling, bottle it up and make sure we carry it from one game to the next it’ll be good for our team.”
In four home games prior to this, the Bruins had stretches of strong play, but none of those stretches lasted a full game. Often, none of them lasted a full period. On Tuesday night, that wasn’t the case. From start to finish, the Bruins competed — even when they went up by two goals, three goals, four goals.
They never stopped pressing.
“We lost a couple times, and it’s about how you learn from the mistakes,” said forward David Krejci. “I felt like we learned from the mistakes that we [had] in the past, even though maybe it was [Arizona’s] fifth game in eight nights and last game on the road. It doesn’t matter.
“We just played our game, and I’m happy we learned from our mistakes. So hopefully, we’ll take that to the next games, and from now on, we’ll know how to close the games.”
The last time out against Arizona, Boston’s power play was red hot. They got their first opportunity on the man-advantage almost midway through the frame but were unable to produce any promising scoring chances.
With less than three minutes left in the period, though, the offense came alive.
Loui Eriksson held the puck at the defensive blueline and dished to Krejci before taking a hit. Krejci took the puck all the way down the left side, drew two defenders, faked to Brett Connolly on the other side of the crease and beat Mike Smith gloveside to give the Bruins a 1-0 lead.
“He’s off to a good start,” said Head Coach Claude Julien. “It’s all about confidence in this league, and he’s gotten off to a good start. He’s feeling good about his game. He’s very healthy, as you can see. That makes a big difference.”
With the goal, Krejci extended his point streak to eight games, matching the longest such streak in the NHL this season.
“It’s not really my goal, but obviously I’ll take it,” Krejci said. “It’s nice to be up there — who knows for how long? — but it is what it is. It’s going to be fun to come to the rink tomorrow because we won tonight.
“So like I said, it’s fun when you win. It’s kind of not fun when you lose. But when you win, it’s good, so we have to build on that and make sure that we keep this atmosphere for as long as we can.”
The Bruins didn’t let their momentum fall away in the second. They kept right on pushing, and with about 13 minutes remaining in the period, they were rewarded.
Jimmy Hayes and Matt Beleskey, linemates for the first time this season, led the rush up the ice and both went hard to the net. Beleskey put a backhander on net and Smith made the initial stop, but Hayes drove home the rebound for the 2-0 lead.
With 2 1/2 minutes left in the period, Morrow made it 3-0 with his first goal of the 2015-16 campaign, picking up the puck from Beleskey in the slot and firing a nasty wrister over Smith’s shoulder.
It marked the second NHL goal of Morrow’s young career.
“I’m still looking for an assist; I’m a little selfish out there, I guess,” Morrow joked. “It’s a huge confidence boost, especially when you score at home and you hear the crowd and you hear it on the JumboTron and everything; it’s just a great feeling. It won’t wear off for a long time. Hopefully, I can grow on that.”
The assist on Morrow’s strike marked Beleskey’s second of the night and a clearly successful return from an undisclosed upper-body injury that kept him out of the Bruins’ previous two games.
“All the new faces that were maybe hesitating at first are now feeling more comfortable and more confident with what they need to do,” Julien said. “When you take hesitation out of your game, everybody on the ice benefits from it. I think guys are a little more assertive in all areas, whether it’s defensively or offensively, and guys are starting to feel more comfortable.
“The key right now is to build on these kind of wins, and to build on these kind of games where you’re doing a lot of good things, and continue to try and improve as a hockey club.”
Last week against Philadelphia, the Bruins went into the third period with a two-goal lead and were not able to protect it. Tuesday night, they made certain history didn’t repeat itself. Instead of folding, they found the back of the net three times in the final 20 minutes.
First, Connolly struck for his third goal in as many games, trailing as Marchand fought to bring the puck into the offensive zone, waiting for the drop pass in the high slot and burying it.
“He’s a really good player,” Marchand said. “He’s got all the assets to be a really, really good player in this league. The good thing about him — he’s really quick to get into positions that have a scoring opportunity, and when he’s there, he doesn’t miss very often. So I think he’s fit in really well and we’re improving every day. We’re trying to build the chemistry, and I think it’s been good.”
With seven minutes left in the game, Marchand struck on the power play, and with a mere 38 seconds left, Krejci buried his second of the night off a perfect pass from Hayes.
“I think now, we kind of are starting to figure out our identity and the things that we need to work on to be a better team,” Marchand said. “We’re trying to improve every day, and the last four games, five games, have been really good. We’ve got to be happy with how we’ve been playing and just want to keep it going now.”
Tuukka Rask finished the night with his first shutout of the season and the 27th of his career.
“I felt good today, so I just try to keep that going,” Rask said. “Obviously, a shutout makes you look even better, but I felt good. I think the team felt good. The team looked good. So that’s a good building block for us, and we’re trying to keep doing this.”
Tuesday’s win was just that: a building block. The Bruins aren’t perfect. They will be the first to say they are far from it. They will be the first to point out the few mistakes they made on Tuesday night, the first to identify the areas of improvement that must be addressed before this weekend’s looming back-to-back against Florida and Tampa Bay.
But those are tasks for Wednesday morning’s practice. For now — for right now — they will enjoy Tuesday’s success.
“It’s a big thing: You want to get that first win, and you know it’s a city that expects wins, so you have to continue to be there every night,” Hayes said. “You have to compete, and you have to continue to make this place a tough place to play.”