For the Boston Bruins, embarking on a four-game road trip so early in the NHL season has its benefits.
The team bonding might be great, but the results are even greater.
A night after defeating Los Angeles 4-2, the Bruins will go for a third straight victory in California — and their fifth in a row to begin the season — when they visit the Anaheim Ducks on Sunday.
“A trip like this earlier in the year, I think it’s important for us obviously to get that kind of chance to get to know each other a little bit better, especially for a guy like me new on the team,” forward James van Riemsdyk said. “So that’s been great.”
Van Riemsdyk had netted the winning goal in Boston’s previous two games before Saturday, when two of the Bruins’ longtime offensive stars led the way in their 12th consecutive regular-season win dating back to last season.
Captain Brad Marchand and David Pastrnak each had three-point games, giving each points in every game this season. Marchand scored two goals for the first time this season.
Additionally, Morgan Geekie netted his first goal with the Bruins, and Derek Forbort dished out two assists.
The contribution of veterans and more unsung heroes alike was key to what coach Jim Montgomery described as a great team-wide effort that he had been looking for after a lackluster start to the trip.
“We played with a lot of emotion and we dug in,” Montgomery said. “Everybody dug in in a lot of different ways, whether it was physicality, skill, effort or execution. … We’re starting to see our identity come out.”
The Ducks have dropped consecutive one-goal games since earning their first win — and the first in Greg Cronin’s NHL head coaching career — in last Sunday’s home opener against Carolina.
With Sunday’s game, Anaheim will conclude its second back-to-back in as many weekends to begin the regular season after taking a 2-1 loss at Arizona on Saturday.
The Ducks have played short-handed 22 times while being awarded only 12 power plays on the season. Frank Vatrano scored Anaheim’s first man-up goal in the third period against Arizona.
“Fatigue will set in and then guys are sitting on the bench, the rhythm of the game gets pickled,” Cronin said. “Guys don’t get on the ice and then the guys that are on the ice get tired. The effort (has) been there every game, (but) the execution gets sloppy.”
Vatrano, who netted a hat trick in Anaheim’s lone victory, is a Massachusetts native and former Bruins forward who knows that the team’s results will turn with the right effort.
“We want to be hard to play against, and sometimes the calls don’t go your way,” Vatrano said. “But we’re not going to change the way we play. I think we’ve just got to do it a little smarter.”
Anaheim will be without defenseman Jamie Drysdale (lower-body injury) for a third straight game.