3 takeaways as Bruins continue surprisingly hot start against Dallas


The Bruins improved to 6-1 for the first time in decades with a 3-1 win over the Dallas Stars on Tuesday night.

Making his third straight start, Linus Ullmark held his own in the Bruins net on Tuesday. Maddie Meyer/Getty Images

The Boston Bruins’ offensive firepower from the first week of the 2022-23 campaign has waned a bit over the past week. But defensively, they’ve made progress in the previous three games, including Tuesday’s game against the Dallas Stars.

Jim Montgomery’s team gave up some quality scoring opportunities off the rush and in net against Tyler Seguin and company. For the most part, they limited the Stars in their secondary tipping and rebounding opportunities, allowing Linus Ullmark to follow pucks through traffic en route to a 30-save outing.

Boston’s only breakdown came on Wyatt Johnston’s equalizer early in the second period. The defensive structure, along with timely goals from David Pastrnak (on a power play), Taylor Hall (on a go-ahead late in the second period) and Patrice Bergeron (on an empty net) propelled the Bruins to a 3-1 victory at the Hockey Fights Cancer night at TD Garden.

“We didn’t win a game doing that. We kind of gave up leads and then we end up winning in overtime or retiring late. But it’s nice to close out a game,” Montgomery said after facing his former Stars team, which finished its third game in four nights.

“Dallas, I give them credit. They played us really hard at the end of a three-for-four. They pushed us and they tested us, and I liked the way we stopped things during the last four minutes.

Here’s what we learned after the Bruins improved to 6-1 for the first time since their 1969-70 Stanley Cup campaign.

Bruins thrive in third period

Even in their low-scoring outings, the Bruins had to rely on Ullmark for saves on odd runs and secondary chances. He then provided stability and continued to provide that same composure between the pipes on his third consecutive start.

This time, Ullmark had a little more help in front of his crease, especially in the third period.

As the Bruins clung to a 2-1 lead late in regulation, a structured D provided some opportune moments in closing time. They held the Stars in check in the final four minutes, giving up just two shots on goal en route to the dagger in Bergeron’s empty net.

The Stars outshot the Bruins, 30-27. But that night, Boston’s blue line backed Ullmark with 11 blocked shots.

“I don’t want to talk about me; I want to talk about the team,” Ullmark said. “It’s not just me there; it’s a whole bunch of guys. We do it together. It’s a whole group of guys doing this together. It’s not just me. There are guys out there who block shots left and right, box and do the right things over and over and over again. It’s fun to see.

Despite all their solid defensive work, the Bruins struggled to generate offense in Tuesday’s crusher. But, they dug deep and secured their sixth win in seven games.

The second line feels they have another level to reach.

While struggling to create quality looks, the second line of Hall, Pastrnak and David Krejci still found a way to find the back of the net.

Even without their best defensemen in Miro Heiskanen, the Stars held a 12-5 lead on attempts and 8-4 on shots in 10:48 of 5v5 time against the Hall, Krejci, Pastrnak trio. For the most part, they prevented the second line from creating prime scoring chances along the slot and goal-line areas.

As they struggled to gain ground in key scoring areas, the talented forwards had to find different ways to find the back of the net. But as one of the best playmakers found his place on the powerplay, the other half of Boston’s second-line wing combo had to create time and space to break through.

After their late-game heroics from Saturday’s OT thriller against the Wild, Pastrnak and Hall found the back of the net again. This time they both had to shoot receptions to get the job done against Jake Ottinger, starting with Pastrnak’s outburst with the man advantage and ending with Hall scoring his third goal in as many games in the Tuesday countdown.

“Not every game is perfect, but tonight we found a way to contribute,” Hall said. “It was a bit of a sloppy game, and we didn’t get the O zone time that we would have liked. But it’s a solid defensive team that doesn’t give you much. They protect the slot well, and obviously that’s where we’re looking to get shots and create second chances. It’s a good sign that when you’re not the best you can find a way to get on the board and find a way to reclaim that goal we were for.

Amid a tough but productive night, the second line continued to gel. But, as usual on an 82-game slate, they still see that improvements are at hand.

“Obviously we still have things to work on, like being a little bit closer to each other,” Pastrnak said. “But, you know, I still feel the chemistry is there.”

Indeed, the tight-knit Bruins put together a pretty impressive outing, given the circumstances at the start of the season.

The Bruins find a variety of ways to win.

Montgomery couldn’t have asked for a better seven-game start to his tenure in Boston.

The Bruins thrived in the face of early season adversity with their 6-1 start. They showed good depth as they continue to find footing in the Montgomery system.

Not only do they win, but they save two points by different means. At first, they relied on outplaying the opposition in the proverbial track encounters. At times, however, they had to persevere to victory after giving up a few multi-goal leads.

Amid a few offensive struggles, they never trailed the Stars.

“I think we find different ways to win every night,” Montgomery said. “I thought there were offensive plays to be made that even our elite offensive players didn’t see. But our control is really improving and we won with defence. And, of course, Linus was really good in goal tonight.

Without Brad Marchand and Charlie McAvoy, the Bruins found ways to win by scoring, keeping and defending at the right time.

With Marchand and McAvoy, they will become even more formidable.

“It’s good to have players coming back,” Montgomery added, “because it just makes us better.”


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