BOSTON – The Boston Bruins made sure they left for their four-game Western Conference road trip on a winning note.
Defenseman Dougie Hamilton scored 3:39 into overtime and goaltender Tuukka Rask stopped 35 of 36 to help the Bruins defeat the Winnipeg Jets 2-1 at TD Garden on Friday.
Center Carl Soderberg assisted on both Bruins goals, Hamilton’s game-winner and Milan Lucic’s game-tying goal, as Boston (14-9-1) rallied from a 1-0 third-period deficit to snap a two-game losing streak.
“Yeah I think we talked a lot about it and for a while there it was pretty frustrating. And coaches definitely weren't too happy with us and we really didn't show up,” Hamilton said. “I think we really wanted a good start and didn't have it and squeaked the two points like we have in the past. I don't know how we do it but two points is two points I guess.”
Hamilton scored on a wrist shot from the top of the right circle. Despite defensemen Zdeno Chara and Adam McQuaid being on injured reserve and center David Krejci missing 10 of the Bruins past 12 games, Boston has at least a point in five of its past six games and 10 of its past 13.
Coach Claude Julien, though, would’ve liked to have seen a better start.
“I don’t think we expect to go out there and dominate a game from start to finish with our lineup right now,” Julien said. “It is what it is and we understand that we have to grind it out. What we have to understand is that if we’re going to grind it out, we have to be ready from the get go. Because it’s tough enough as it is. You know you play with fire when you have a team the way we have right now with a lot of guys filling in for other guys and think that we can just play a period and win a hockey game. So that’s where the issue is.”
The Jets (12-9-4) finished their three-game Eastern Conference road trip 2-0-1 despite 36 saves from goaltender Michael Hutchinson, who was a 2008 third-round draft pick of the Bruins. Rask’s presence in the organization was one of several factors that led to the Bruins letting Hutchinson leave as a free agent in the summer of 2013.
“It was awesome,” Hutchinson said about playing against Rask. “He’s a goalie that ever since I was drafted I looked up to. So to be able to play against him is a real good experience and it really forced me to focus in and push myself because like I said he doesn’t make too many mistakes and we got one on him. And it really made me bear down and know that it might be the only one we get tonight.”
The Bruins killed off a double minor for high sticking against Brad Marchand at the end of regulation and 30 seconds into overtime to preserve the tie and set up the overtime heroics.
“Yeah it’s, I don't know if there’s a certain thing. It’s just, we knew we needed to kill it off and just did our best and listen to what [assistant coach Doug Houda] had to say,” Hamilton said about the kill. “And just some big plays and big saves and that’s what we needed.”
The Jets had three power plays in the first period, including two drawn by Mark Scheifele. With Bruins forward Loui Eriksson in the penalty box for tripping Scheifele, Dustin Byfuglien cashed in on the man-advantage. Byfuglien’s wrist shot from the blue line beat Rask at 16:24 to give Winnipeg a 1-0 lead.
In the second period, the Bruins outshot the Jets 11-7, but Winnipeg had the best scoring chances and failed to convert on three breakaways. Rask stopped Evander Kane twice and Bruins defenseman Matt Bartkowski hustled back to prevent a clean shot by Byfuglien on the third breakaway. Winnipeg took its 1-0 lead to the second intermission.
The Bruins tied the score on a give-and-go by Soderberg and Lucic. After Lucic dished the puck to Soderberg at the Winnipeg blue line, he took it wide and set up Lucic for a tip-in at 3:05.
The Bruins start a four-game road trip against the Anaheim Ducks on Monday, followed by the Los Angeles Kings, San Jose Sharks and Arizona Coyotes before returning to home.
Winnipeg forward Bryan Little was injured 23 seconds into the third period. Little blocked a shot by Soderberg and had to be helped off the ice. Little, who has eight goals and 15 points in 25 games this season, did not return. Coach Paul Maurice didn’t have an update on Little, but hoped the upcoming four-day break would allow Little to avoid missing any time.
“He’s one of our top guys and any time you lose one of your top guys, it’s tough, especially a centerman,” Jets forward Blake Wheeler said. “Especially a guy that does so much like [Little] does. So that definitely hurt us but we had some guys fill in that are more than capable and I think we had some good looks to make it 2-1, it just wasn’t meant to be.”
Winnipeg returns home against the Edmonton Oilers on Wednesday.