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Tweaks Pay Dividends in Bruins Win Over Canucks

Defensemen get involved in the offense in 4-3 win

by Eric Russo @NHLBruins /

BOSTON - During his introductory press conference, Bruce Cassidy mentioned several areas in which he would like the Bruins to improve upon. Among the most important to Boston's interim head coach, were creating more secondary scoring and activating the team's defense corps in the offensive zone.

He was not disappointed on Saturday afternoon. Cassidy got what he wanted as the Bruins received goals from defensemen Colin Miller and Kevan Miller, and a three-point game from third-liner Frank Vatrano, in a 4-3 win over the Vancouver Canucks at TD Garden. David Pastrnak potted the winner - his 100th career NHL point - with two minutes to go in regulation.

"We have asked [the defensemen] to get involved and it's a matter of finding them and a matter of finishing," said Cassidy. "The execution was good on both plays to get them the puck and I think there was a couple other opportunities…so if you can generate an extra half dozen chances a game with those guys coming, it puts other teams on alert and tonight we got two of them to go.

"We need secondary scoring and we got lots of it tonight."

Video: VAN@BOS: K. Miller labels one far side on the attack

On the Bruins first goal, Kevan Miller joined the attack and cruised into the offensive zone. Ryan Spooner threaded a pass to Miller, who fired a snipe by Ryan Miller at 13:33 of the first period to knot the game, 1-1.

"You know, you're playing with fire sometimes, you've got to be careful," said Miller. "I think that's something we're going to learn, but I think we did a pretty good job of that tonight and it's not too big of a difference. But just trying to focus on getting up when you can and when it's available and to make sure guys are filling in for us behind us."

Colin Miller got into the act early in the third. Jimmy Hayes carried the puck up the right wing and left a beautiful drop pass for Miller, who was entering the zone with speed. Miller leaned into it and launched a blistering one-timer by Ryan Miller to put Boston ahead, 3-2, just 2:12 into the frame.

"Jimmy did a great job," said Colin Miller. "He kind of just laid it out there for me, so I pretty much walked into it from the blue line. Had a lot of time to get it off."

Video: VAN@BOS: C. Miller blasts a one-timer far side

While the Bruins got plenty of offensive contributions from the back end, Cassidy was also pleased with the production from the third line of Vatrano, Spooner, and Jimmy Hayes. Vatrano notched his seventh goal of the season - a power-play tally - with 37 seconds left in the first and assisted on both Miller tallies.

Vatrano's three-point performance tied a career-high (hat trick against Pittsburgh in Dec. 2015). Spooner and Hayes, who snapped a 12-game scoreless streak, also added assists.

"That was a great reward for them," said Cassidy. "I thought defensively they were solid for the most part. We'll look at it a little closer, but there was no apprehension calling their name out and throwing them out on the ice tonight.

"That will only ingratiate themselves with their teammates, with the coaching staff, when they can contribute offensively, solid defensively, play a 200-foot game. So, good for them."

Video: VAN@BOS: Vatrano buries Krejci's feed for PPG

Pastrnak Nets the Winner

Pastrnak made sure his 100th NHL point was one to remember. The winger took a cross-ice feed from David Krejci through the neutral zone and cut to the net, whipping one past Ryan Miller with two minutes remaining in regulation.

Pastrnak extended his point streak to four games (five goals, three assists). He now has a team-leading 25 goals this season.

"I think Krech got control there, so I just tried to pick up as much speed as I could and I knew he would find me there," said Pastrnak. "He passed to me wide and the D had a good gap so I just tried to cut it to the middle and throw it on net and it went in."

Video: VAN@BOS: Pasta nets 100th NHL point on go-ahead goal

Khudobin Breaks Through

It has not been an easy stretch for Anton Khudobin. The Bruins backup goalie was up and down from Providence four times over the last two weeks and had not won a game in Boston since Dec. 1.

That victory, over the Carolina Hurricanes, was the lone win for a Bruins backup goalie this season. But Khudobin (29 saves) broke the streak on Saturday with a strong performance between the pipes.

Video: VAN@BOS: Khudobin stands firm in traffic

"We have to get up in the standings," said Khudobin. "That's really important in back-to-backs, hopefully I get the monkey off my back…just keep winning and maybe there wouldn't be that much talk about the goalies not winning the games."

"Very strong game," added Cassidy. "Certainly gave us a chance to win. We had a number of breakdowns in front of him that led to quality chances that he was there to make the save on.  

"So I'm very happy for him. He's worked hard on his game and you know we scored a goal late for him to get the win.  

"I think it's a bit of a monkey off his back and hopefully he can build on it going forward."

Cehlarik Makes His Debut

Peter Cehlarik admitted he was a bit nervous before Saturday's game. But a quick talk with Hayes, who sits beside him in the dressing room, calmed him down and the 21-year-old went on to have a solid game in his NHL debut.

"I was sitting next to Jimmy, so he told me a couple times it's the same, it's hockey still, so just play my game and do the right things," said Cehlarik.

Video: Cehlarik speaks after making his NHL debut

Cehlarik, the ninth Bruin to make his NHL debut this season, skated on the left side alongside David Krejci and David Pastrnak and was a plus-1 in 13:50 of ice time.

"They're great players," said Cehlarik. "They know where to be on the ice and they have good position as well. It's been good to play with them. I enjoy it."

Chara Back in the Lineup

After missing Thursday's game with an illness, Zdeno Chara returned and played a team-high 21 minutes, 57 seconds. The Captain was a plus-1, while delivering two hits and two blocked shots

Video: Bruins meet the media after 4-3 win over Vancouver

Power Play Scorching Hot

Vatrano's power-play tally gave Boston a goal with the man advantage in seven straight games. The Bruins (1 for 2 on Saturday) are now 10 of their last 23 on the power play (43.5%) over that span. During their past 16 games, Boston is clicking at 33.9%.

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