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Coyle realizes childhood dream for Bruins in Game 1 against Blue Jackets

Imagined scoring winning goal for hometown team in playoffs while playing street hockey

by Amalie Benjamin @AmalieBenjamin / NHL.com Staff Writer

BOSTON -- These are the moments he envisioned on that cul-de-sac in East Weymouth, the one with the nets set up on the street, the soccer goals wrapped around them to protect the cars from puck damage. 

Like any kid born and raised in the Boston area, Charlie Coyle scored the game winner in the Stanley Cup Playoffs for the Boston Bruins countless times, raised his arms in celebration, waited as his black-and-gold teammates mobbed him. 

But even he probably couldn't have imagined how it would go in reality, the highs and lows of a night that will be long celebrated in the Coyle household, the turnover leading to the first goal by the Columbus Blue Jackets, the game-tying, third-period goal for the Bruins, and the one in overtime, his hands shooting straight in the air as elation and disbelief combined on his face. 

 

[RELATED: Complete Bruins vs. Blue Jackets series coverage]

 

The latter had provided the Bruins with the 3-2 overtime win in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Second Round and continued their momentum from a seven-game series win against the Toronto Maple Leafs in the first round. 

"I was just relieved we got the win," Coyle said. "I didn't care who scored, to be honest. I was at the end of it but, yeah, it's special. It's special personally. But it's all about the team here. And I was glad after the turnover just to get the win, no matter how we did it."

But how they did it was with him, off his stick, the final two goals of the game counting as his fourth and fifth of the Stanley Cup Playoffs. That makes five goals in eight playoff games for the Bruins after scoring two goals in 21 games in the regular season since he was acquired in a trade from the Minnesota Wild on Feb. 20.

Video: CBJ@BOS, Gm1: Coyle ties game in 3rd, wins it in OT

It also made that childhood dream come true.

"I think we've all done that at one point or another when we were younger," Coyle said. "I used to play street hockey outside my house. Lived on a little cul-de-sac, so either with friends or just by myself, you always think about that stuff, you play scenarios in your head, what it would be like when you're older. 

"I think most of the time you envision yourself in the future. We've all done that. Pretty cool to be living it."

When asked about it, Coyle's first words were about the turnover. He lost the puck at the blue line, a pass attempt tipped away by Riley Nash, which 11 seconds later ended up behind goalie Tuukka Rask. 

The goal tied the game 1-1 at 7:39 of the third period, ending the tenuous lead the Bruins had hung onto since a first-period, shorthanded goal by Noel Acciari, and was followed 13 seconds later by a Pierre-Luc Dubois goal that gave the Blue Jackets a 2-1 lead. 

"I had a costly turnover, third period," Coyle said, sounding subdued. "You can't have that during the game. I owe it to my teammates, I owe it to [Rask] a lot more, so I'm just glad our line kept playing and got to go out there and redeem ourselves."

Video: CBJ@BOS, Gm1: Coyle on team's resilience, OT winner

That was where the game stood deep into the third period, when Coyle began his redemption tour. It started with 4:35 remaining, when Marcus Johansson flicked a circle-to-circle pass to Coyle, who put so much on the shot that the puck ricocheted into the net and back out again in a blink.

The pair of Bruins newcomers -- Johansson was acquired in a trade from the New Jersey Devils at the NHL Trade Deadline on Feb. 25 -- connected again, this time at 5:15 of overtime. 

Danton Heinen brought the puck into the offensive zone, sending it cross-ice to Johansson, who saw Coyle approaching from the other side of the net. The pass sailed right onto Coyle's stick, and the center knocked it past goalie Sergei Bobrovsky, who was caught leaning toward Johansson. 

"Before I got the puck, I already saw Charlie going back door, so it was just kind of a quick play," Johansson said. "One of those, you don't really think, you just do it, and that was fun to see it go in."

The beauty of the goals was in the details, in the perfection, in the way that Johansson knew exactly where to put the puck to allow Coyle to finish. It's chemistry that belies their time on ice together, which has been slim. Johansson played only 10 games with the Bruins in the regular season because of injury, and then missed the first two games of the first round with an illness. 

Video: Coyle scores twice in Bruins' OT win in Game 1

Still, he has clicked with Coyle. They have tried to get to know each other on and off the ice, carpooling sometimes and making progress, little by little. 

"I think we both like to play with a lot of speed," Johansson said. "We like to move the puck, and I think so far what's been part of the success is that we haven't really made it too hard on ourselves. We're not forcing things. That's how we got goals tonight, keeping it simple and moving our feet, taking advantage of the chances when we get them."

And not letting the mistakes weigh on them.

"You just try to stay in the moment, really," Coyle said. "Especially playoff time. You always say you can't get too high, can't get too low, even if you really want to. It's hard to contain yourself sometimes. You just keep a level head."

While he's trying to do that, it doesn't mean that his family or his friends or the faithful of East Weymouth -- those on his block that hung up Bruins shirts and Coyle jerseys once the trade became official -- have to do the same. 

"His buddies probably expect him to get a hat trick next game, that's the problem," coach Bruce Cassidy quipped. "Listen, he's got to be excited. I think in Minnesota they didn't have much luck in terms of getting to the second round, so he's probably excited he's advancing. Now you're at home. Now you're the hero of the game, so I think it's awesome. Good for him. Great story. Hopefully, [Walpole native Chris] Wagner's next."

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