ST. PAUL, Minn. - If there was anything the Bruins needed from their nine-day break, it was a simple mental breather. Following a grueling run to the Stanley Cup Final last spring and an action-packed first half of 2019-20, the Black & Gold, no doubt, appreciated some time away from the rink.
A few days to rest, recharge, and forget about all things skates and sticks, they hoped, would work wonders ahead of the stretch run.
So far, so good.
A night after a solid all-around effort against Winnipeg in their return from the bye week, the Bruins responded with another strong showing in a dominant 6-1 victory over the Minnesota Wild at Xcel Energy Center.
"We're starting to realize the desperation it takes to win, especially this time of year," said Torey Krug, who led the way with two goals and two assists. "It's gonna be tough from here on out. It was important for us to come out and feel good about ourselves in Winnipeg and then come into this game tonight, obviously win in a different style, but that's what you need to do this time of year."
For the second straight night, Boston relied heavily on its special teams units, as the penalty kill and power play combined for a near perfect performance. The Bruins' PK went 4-for-4, making them 10-for-10 on the weekend, while the power play converted on three of four opportunities.
After going 0 for 15 heading into the break, the Black & Gold are now 5 for 8 over the past two games, a clear indication that the time off paid dividends for B's man advantage.
"It reestablishes some confidence, some swagger that maybe some guys lost and the unit lost in general," said Krug. "And then we scored a goal a few different ways on the power play as well…it just gives us confidence to make plays and realize when we have the swagger, and we're moving the puck really quick, and we're not being stagnant and holding onto the puck, we can score against anyone.
"Obviously we need it to win games, very important for us to get it going."
Video: Krug scores twice to lead Bruins past Wild
Boston clicked for three power-play goals in the second period alone, including two within a span of 1:16 early in the frame. After opening the scoring in the first period with a nifty dangle through the slot, Krug added his second of the night to kickstart the PP barrage at 4:39 of the middle period.
Krug corralled a cross-ice feed from Brad Marchand and let go a wrister from the right circle that just trickled through Minnesota goalie Devan Dubnyk to give the Bruins a 2-0 lead.
"I had a lot of chances," said Krug, who finished with two shots on goal and four attempts. "Obviously you feel good when the puck's finding your stick, but it was a fun night…I actually wasn't moving my feet much in the first period and that [first] goal got me going, kind of changed things for me. Got me excited, started skating a little bit better."
The Bruins went right back to the power play 42 seconds after Krug's tally and, yet again, wasted no time converting. Just 35 seconds into the advantage, Marchand unleashed a one-timer off a feed from Krug from nearly the same spot in the right circle, extending Boston's lead to 3-0.
David Pastrnak capped the flurry with his 38th goal of the season, making it 4-0 with 4:31 remaining in the second. Overall, Boston needed just 2:21 to convert on their three successful power plays.
"We recovered pucks around the net, tried to not overthink it, starts with shots," said Pastrnak "You see Torey, usually he's not a shooter on the power play, he started shooting, got a goal. Marchy got a one-timer goal. My goal was a recovered puck in front of the net.
"A lot of good things. Special teams came up huge. Tonight, PK was unbelievable. It's obviously nice, one of those games."
Video: Krug talks after four point night propels B's
Hitting His Mark
Pastrnak's 38th goal in his 53rd game matched his career high set last season in 66 games. With 29 games remaining, the winger believes he can reach the 50 mark, which would make him the first Bruin since Cam Neely in 1993-94 to accomplish that feat.
"Obviously it would be really nice. Definitely think I can do it," said Pastrnak. "Work for it, work on the shot, keeping playing the same way. Just not overthinking anything, trying to help my team. That's the way I help the most, so hopefully I can keep going…we play a team sport, that's what it's about."
Video: BOS@MIN: Pastrnak buries loose puck with quick shot
Keeping Things Fresh
Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy was quite satisfied with his club's urgency level in the two games coming out of the break, an intensity he attributes in part to the players embracing some internal competition.
On Saturday night, Cassidy inserted Par Lindholm (for Sean Kuraly) and Anton Blidh (for the injured Danton Heinen) into the lineup and saw two players that appeared to be fighting for every-day jobs.
"I think the performances, what they're related to up front is guys wanting to play," said Cassidy. "You could see with Blidh, he's throwing himself in front of shots with a three-, four-goal lead. We lost a bit of that in the middle of the year - understandably, you're sometimes not as committed. We're trying to get that back, slowly come around. If it requires moving a different person in to do it, then that's what we'll do and have done."
Blidh finished the night with three shots on goal and two blocked shots in 12:09 of ice time, while Lindholm landed two shots and two blocks, as well as an assist on Krug's opening goal in 13:47.
"I thought Lindy was strong on the puck in the middle of the ice, strong on pucks, something we've asked Sean to do, be a little more determined in the middle of the ice," said Cassidy. "I thought Lindy did a real good job with that. The guys we put in did what they were asked to do, they got rewarded. They scored a goal - wasn't them, it was Krug, but they were a part of it and could have had a few more. Hats off to them.
"Internal competition, that's what you want. When guys go in, you want them to want to stay in. When they respond like that, as a coach it makes you feel good about the character of those guys."
Video: Cassidy talks full team effort in 6-1 win