Jimmy Hayes pounced on the loose puck after a bounce off the endboards and stuffed it past Ottawa Senators netminder Craig Anderson, helping the Bruins strike first for the first time in four games. His fist bump to the air and arm raise to the fans was evidence of that.
“You get a bounce like that, there’s a nice little smile on your face,” said Hayes.
The second one was a beauty.
Up ice on a 2-on-1, Hayes one-timed a perfect saucer pass from Talbot over the defender’s stick to make it 5-3 Bruins in the third. Talbot grabbed his shoulders and shouted into his face.
“I know Jimmy’s got a good shot and he certainly put it where it needed to be,” said Talbot.
The third, well, that was a buzzer beater with 0.2 on the clock that sent the hats flying down on to the TD Garden, commemorating the first year Bruin’s first NHL career hat trick — and the Bruins’ 7-3 win over Ottawa. It snapped a three-game losing streak and set them up for a few relaxing days before Friday's Winter Classic at Gillette Stadium.
“I wasn’t sure how much time was left and I just put it on net,” said Hayes.
It was a perfectly timed night for the Garden to be giving away hats to its first 5,000 fans through the doors. Right on cue.
Hayes’ dagger — his third goal of the night and the Bruins’ fourth on the power play — sent the crowd into a frenzy, as if they hadn’t already been put there by the 82 penalty minutes handed out in the final 1:03 of regulation.
“It was my first time I had a hat trick in the NHL and I haven’t been scoring many goals as of late, it was nice to get some confidence and going,” a smiling Hayes said postgame from the Bruins’ locker room.
“You’ve got to the net. That’s what I’ve been trying to work on the last couple weeks is finding ways to get around the net and bang home some pucks and I’ve been working on it in practice and tonight it paid off.”
Talbot jumped up and down on his skates and jumped into Hayes’ arms.
“Yeah, I was jacked,” Talbot laughed. “I feel bad because I celebrated too hard at the end, but we called it before the faceoff. I was definitely looking for him, so I was very glad that he got the hat trick.”
“You usually don’t celebrate that hard at the end of a game like this, but I felt emotional in that situation.”
A 7-3 victory normally doesn’t garner that sort of celebration. This one had the feeling that it was necessary.
“That was probably one of the coolest moments was getting that hat trick and seeing how excited Talbot was,” smiled Hayes. “That was pretty cool to see your teammate that happy for you.”
The Dorchester, Mass. native joined East Longmeadow, Mass. native Frank Vatrano in the hometown hat trick column this season.
With Hayes’ sixth, seventh and eighth goals of the season, he nearly doubled his scoring output on the season. Entering the game, Hayes had recorded just one goal since Nov. 7.
“It’s just nice to see Jimmy produce and get a bit of a break there,” said Bruins Head Coach Claude Julien. “He hasn’t had much luck in the production area for awhile so, you know, he played on a line tonight [with Talbot and Zac Rinaldo] that I thought played really well together, those three guys, and he was in the right place.”
“We talked about him scoring some goals with his size and his strength, tight around the net and that’s what he did. So hopefully he sees that, builds on that and continues to produce for us.”
The Bruins weren’t only boosted by Hayes’ three tallies. Patrice Bergeron and Matt Beleskey each added a pair of goals. Both of Bergeron’s came on the power play, with Beleskey netting one on the man advantage and one at even strength.
The NHL’s top-ranked power play scored for the first time in five games, and then some, finishing the night with four PP scores in total.
Torey Krug, who returned from missing one game with an undisclosed injury, earned his 99th and 100th career NHL points with primary assists on Bergeron’s goals.
Bergeron moved into the team lead with 35 points and now has 14 goals on the season. Apart from a two-game stretch from Dec. 20 — 22, Bergeron has not gone more than one game without a point this season.
Tuukka Rask was sharp between the pipes. The Bruins outshot the Senators 9-1 to start, before a flurry of quick chances resulted in Ottawa tying the game at 1-1.
A bounce off the boards brought the Senators within one, down 3-2 to Boston. Then a bounce off Dennis Seidenberg’s skate early in the third brought them within one again.
Owning the 4-3 lead, the Bruins took off from there, scoring three straight goals, with Hayes’ two final goals sandwiching a Beleskey rebound drive that came right after Rask sprawled out to make a save on an Ottawa shorthanded bid.
With David Krejci on Injured Reserve, the entire team needed to step up. They did just that.
Ryan Spooner finished the night tops on the Bruins and among all skaters in faceoff percentage, winning 67 percent of his draws. Callup Seth Griffith manned the point on the power play along with Krug and skated alongside Marchand and Bergeron.
Centering the third line, Landon Ferraro was in the thick of the game all night and dropped the gloves with Max McCormick for his second NHL fight. In the final minute of play, Adam McQuaid challenged Chris Neil after a hit on Kevan Miller, while Rinaldo and Dave Dziurzynski fought in the corner and Hayes and Mark Borowiecki tangled, too.
“You want to see your team stick together and make sure you stick up for your teammates and that’s what we did,” said Julien.
The best moment of camaraderie during the game wasn’t the fighting, though. It was in the dying seconds, once the emotions between the two sides had wrapped up, when every player on the ice was trying to get Hayes his hat trick.
“They were trying everything they could to give Jimmy his hat trick there, so I liked the way that they were thinking in a 6-3 game and that they were trying to help their teammate out.”