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Aggression works for Bruins in 4-3 win over Canucks

02.11.17 at 3:45 pm ET
The Bruins beat the Canucks at the Garden. (Bob DeChiara/USA Today Sports)

The Bruins beat the Canucks at the Garden. (Bob DeChiara/USA Today Sports)

After the club’s 6-3 decimation of the Sharks in Bruce Cassidy’s coaching debut on Thursday, the 51-year-old Cassidy talked about his desire for the team to err on the side of aggression, especially when it came to offense and plays made from their defense.

And this was just another run of the Miller afternoon at TD Garden in that regard, as the Bruins defeated the visiting Canucks by a 4-3 final.

In the second game of a three games in four nights stretch that will determine the fate of their season (and with their bye week on the horizon), the Black and Gold knew that aggression was going to be the name of the game against a Canucks team in a similar situation as the Bs, with points a must to keep their playoff hopes out West alive.

But that’s a mindset and situation that suits Cassidy’s philosophies as a head coach. Even when you accept the hiccups that come with it.

And were they ever present in this one.

The Canucks scored first when a disastrous David Pastrnak turnover allowed the Canucks to have a 3-on-1 the other way, and although Anton Khudobin stopped the initial shot, miscommunication in front of the B’s net allowed Bo Horvat to collect and pot the rebound home for his 16th goal of the season, scored just 4:56 into the first period.

It was the sleepy first that haunted the Bruins many times throughout Claude Julien’s 10th year in town.

Except now, and again, with aggression the name of the game, it didn’t take long for the Bruins to wake up.

At 13:33 of the first, it was Kevan Miller that ripped home his second goal of the season on a decision to join the rush up ice. With Ryan Spooner to the left and Jimmy Hayes driving to the net, Miller was able to sneak in on the right side and blast a one-time shot that beat Ryan Miller upstairs. For the Bruins’ Miller, it was the near perfect execution of what Cassidy has preached.

And when the Bruins were on a late-period power play, it was Frank Vatrano, off a brilliant feed from David Krejci, that pushed the Bruins out to a 2-1 lead through 20 minutes of action behind his seventh goal of the season (and his fifth on the power play).

But, again, as was the case in so many Julien games this year, the Bruins fell back asleep once the lead was theirs in the middle frame, as they were outshot 15-to-3, and were victimized by an actual last-second goal from Alex Burrows.

Scored with 00:00.6 left in the period, the Burrows goal was the deserved finish to a finger-biting middle frame in the Hub.

That snapped in a dominant third period, however, as Colin Miller matched the Canucks with a bomb of his own, and edged the Bruins back out to a lead. Markus Granlund made it even again at 3-3 on the power play.

But then, with two minutes left, it was Pastrnak, at the end of a game that came with turnover after turnover for the ultra-talented Czech winger, that atoned for his mistakes with a goal scored with just 2:00 left in the third period.

And as the Canucks whiffed on a goal line drive with less than a minute left, it was the Bruins that hung on behind a 29-of-32 performance behind the always-aggressive Khudobin for his first win since Dec. 1 against the Hurricanes.

When you look at this game, it’s easy to state the obvious — it was a sleepy, at times nightmarish, mess. The Bruins were frequently over-aggressive, and were pinned in for prolonged stretches. But at the same time, it was that aggression and pace that allowed the Bruins to stay afloat and respond with goals and plays when they were there to be made.

It’s worked for the Bruins so far, though, as that’s two wins in two games under Cassidy.

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