TORONTO — Jake DeBrusk picked a good time to finally break through.
After an abysmal start to the series, being held without a goal and nearly a non-factor since Game 2, the 22-year-old showed flashes in Sunday’s Game 6 of what he did in last year’s seven-game series against the Maple Leafs.
His goal in the second period off a feed from David Krejci gave the Bruins the breathing room they needed in what turned out to be a 4-2 win to force a seventh game in Boston.
“I think scoring helps,” he said. “That brings some emotion. But in saying that, our backs are against the wall and lives are on the line. There’s no other time to do it. There’s no option.”
With 14 shots and just one assist to show for his efforts, it appeared DeBrusk had potentially gotten caught up and slowed down by all the controversy surrounding him in Game 2. Being booed in Toronto for two games, he was invisible.
Game 5 in Boston, nobody played well. That changed in Game 6 for plenty, but DeBrusk’s timely emergence was more akin to what he’s brought to the team all season.
“I dropped it to (Krejci) and understand it’s probably going to come back to me at some point,” he said about his goal. “I just tried to extend my stick and get there, and was lucky to cash in. It’s a whirl out there, so you just try to get as much position as possible and try to stay there.”
A year ago, DeBrusk made his mark with two goals in Game 7 at the Garden against Toronto. This time around, he’s a year older and has gone through a dramatic series.
To be back in this spot again isn’t a shock. Now he can only hope to replicate what he brought last time.
“I’m not surprised at all,” he said. “That was my guess at the start. I didn’t think it would go like this, but in saying that, we know it’s a do or die game.”
McAvoy comes up big
Averaging more time on ice than any Bruins player this season, it might not be a surprise Charlie McAvoy played 24:06 in Game 6. What does stand out is playing 9:19 in the third period, nearly half of the frame, as the Bruins held down Toronto to earn the win.
“We all knew that we needed to play for each other,” he said. “Fortunate to get that win, we did what we needed to do, but now it’s on to Tuesday.”
It’s been a tough matchup with McAvoy and his partner Zdeno Chara against a speedy Toronto team, and they’ve both had their moments. But McAvoy stepped up big when they needed him in a Game 6 that sent the Bruins back home with a chance to move on.
“I think our older players lead the way, and we all follow,” he said. “We know what’s at stake, it’s our season. We worked really hard to get here…. We made sure we got it done tonight, but Tuesday’s a new battle.”
Carlo performs well
Along with McAvoy, one of the best narratives for the Bruins this postseason has been the emergence of Brandon Carlo.
In his first playoff series, he started off shaky but has risen to be one of the most reliable blueliners in the Bruins’ arsenal. He played arguably his best game with the B’s in Game 6.
“It’s as hard a game as he’s played in a long time,” Bruins head coach Bruce Cassidy said. “It’s his first playoff…. He’s a good, young player that does a lot of the little things, so you’re not going to notice him on the scoresheet. He’s a guy who we value a lot, his ability to defend.”