BOSTON - The Bruins were on the wrong side of an unlikely comeback earlier this month, when they surrendered a four-goal, third-period lead in an eventual shootout loss to the Florida Panthers.
It was far from a pleasant experience and one Boston was committed to preventing from happening again. The setback - their fourth in a row - served as a bit of a reset for the Black & Gold, who have since rattled off four wins in five games and extended their point streak to seven games.
Those streaks remain alive thanks to a thrilling comeback of their own on Saturday night.
Trailing by two with just under two minutes to go, David Krejci scored twice to tie the game and send things to overtime, during which Torey Krug finished off an end-to-end rush in his return to the lineup to send the Bruins to a remarkable 5-4 victory over the Minnesota Wild. It was Boston's first non-regulation victory of the season (1-1 in OT, 0-4 in the shootout).
"Those are moments that bring a team together throughout a season, and that group of guys that were on the ice takes a lot of pride in being those guys that make things happen," said Krug, who also notched two assists. "To come back and celebrate at the bench with those guys and see how excited they are, that's a special feeling as well. Those are moments that bring a group together and we try to embrace it."
Video: Krug scores OT winner to cap Bruins' wild comeback
More thoughts and observations from Boston's 5-4 victory:
Welcome Back Kruger
Krug, who had missed five straight games with an upper-body injury, certainly did not look rusty on his surge up the ice in overtime. The blue liner started behind the Boston goal line and snaked his way through the neutral zone, before turning on the jets just ahead of the Wild's blue line and charging toward the net.
He made his way - untouched - through all three Minnesota players and sent a backhander through the five-hole of Wild goalie Alex Stalock with 2:19 to go in the extra session, securing the victory for Boston.
"I get a lot of breakaways, so instincts just kicked in," Krug quipped. "I wanted to come up obviously a little bit slower, see what my options were, came up the left side a little to mess with [Zach] Parise's gap, and once I took a couple hard strides and realized I could beat him - parting of the sea - and [Brad] Marchand and [Patrice] Bergeron drew some attention as well, and all of a sudden I was in alone so that's kind of the thought process.
"I felt some pressure, felt like I was going on my backhand the whole time and figured I was going fast enough that maybe the five-hole was open. Luckily, it squeaked in eventually."
Video: MIN@BOS: Krug slips backhander home for OT winner
Giving Them Life
Trailing, 4-2, with two minutes to play, the Bruins got some life when Krejci potted his first of the night off a rebound from the doorstep. With Tuukka Rask on the bench for an extra attacker, Boston controlled the play and eventually got the puck to the net on a David Pastrnak one-timer.
Jake DeBrusk (goal, assist) tipped the shot off of Stalock's pads, creating a rebound to the top of the crease. Bergeron then tapped a feed to Krejci who nudged the puck into an open net to pull the Bruins within 4-3 with 1:55 remaining in regulation.
"We've all been in that situation before," said Krejci, who has 13 points (four goals, nine assists) in his last 12 games. "All six guys on the ice, we've been here for a long time. Once in a while we practice that and even if you don't, we all know each other and what we can do. When there's six of us against four guys…experience for sure [pays off]."
Video: MIN@BOS: Krejci pots Bergeron's feed from side of net
Just 24 seconds after Krejci's tally, Charlie McAvoy drew a trip in the neutral zone, allowing Boston to create a 6-on-4 situation with Rask remaining on the bench. And only 24 seconds into the power play, Krejci was at it again.
The Bruins had control of the puck when Bergeron broke his stick. The pivot rushed to the bench, picked up some new lumber, and scurried back into the zone just in time to receive a feed from Krejci. Bergeron, who finished the night with four assists, quickly delivered a return feed, which Krejci immediately blasted by Stalock from the left circle to tie the game, 4-4, with 1:07 to go.
"We stuck with it," said Krejci. "We talked about it before the third period - just play the way we're supposed to play and the bounces are going to go our way. We're a good enough team, we just have to play the way we can play. That's what happened."
Video: MIN@BOS: Krejci ties game with PPG from circle
Rask Gets the Nod
Rask (32 saves) was not scheduled to start on Saturday night, but after Jaroslav Halak came down with an illness, Boston's ace netminder was forced into duty. And he did not disappoint.
The 32-year-old made a stellar stop on a Jason Zucker breakaway with just under three minutes to go, keeping Boston's deficit at two. And in overtime - just over 20 seconds before Krug's winner - Rask made another tremendous stop, when he dropped into a full split to deny a deflected point shot with his left pad.
"He went in and did a great job pinch hitting," said Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy. "I think he had some tough luck around the net [earlier in the game]. Makes that [breakaway stop on Zucker], that could be it, right? You could say, 'Well, not our night,' but we battled hard.
"Overtime shot that I think hit [Charlie] Coyle's stick….he stretched out, made a great save. He battled hard, good for him. I'm glad he got the win because, in those circumstances, it's not easy."
Keeping It Short
The Bruins had to battle through some major penalty trouble, as they allowed Minnesota seven power plays. The Wild only converted on two of them, but the extended shorthanded time did a number on Boston's energy level.
"I've never seen a game like that where you're [given] seven in a row when it's a close game," said Cassidy. "Typically, the game gets out of hand, you've got roughing calls, you start acting goofy…but we got our [power plays] at the end, same [calls], trippings. That's what we got nailed for early, so it came around to us.
"But it's just hard for a Pastrnak, a DeBrusk, Krejci, guys who don't kill. It's hard to stay in the game, they get frustrated, they want to get out there and as soon as their line's up…it disrupts you. I think it gives the other team juice, especially if they score. Their best players are touching the puck a lot, so it's tough. But we got through it."
Video: Krug Reacts After Scoring OT Winner Over The Wild