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Bruins win 8th straight, Ullmark frustrates Flames with 54 saves

CALGARY — It was an atypical night for the Boston Bruins, but still ended in an eighth-straight win thanks to a typical performance from goaltender Linus Ullmark.
Boston Bruins defenceman Charlie McAvoy, centre, keeps Calgary Flames forward Mikael Backlund, left, away from the puck as goalie Linus Ullmark looks on during second period NHL hockey action in Calgary, Tuesday, Feb. 28, 2023. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh

CALGARY — It was an atypical night for the Boston Bruins, but still ended in an eighth-straight win thanks to a typical performance from goaltender Linus Ullmark.

Charlie McAvoy scored the overtime winner and Ullmark made a career-best 54 saves as the Boston Bruins stunned the Calgary Flames 4-3 on Tuesday night.

The 57-20 edge in shots was a season high for shots allowed by the Bruins and a season low for shots on goal.

“What a game by him,” McAvoy said about his goaltender. “The shots were obviously a lot to a little there and he kept us in the game all night.”

The Flames overcame a 2-0 first-period deficit and led 3-2 in the third period until Pavel Zacha scored on a power play at 14:07 to tie it.

On a 4-on-3 man advantage, Flames defenceman Nikita Zadorov stepped up to lay a heavy hit on Jake DeBrusk as he crossed the blue line with the puck, but the collision also took out teammate Andrew Mangiapane. With two Flames down and out, Dmitry Orlov found Zacha at the far goalpost and he had an open net.

"(DeBrusk) made a nice entry and bumped it back to me. They hit each other and kind of fell,” said Orlov, who also had two goals. “I saw open ice and I saw Pavel and (David Krejci), both of them open. One D got to Krejci so I figured I was going to pass to Pavel and he made a nice goal.”

On the overtime winner with 4.3 seconds remaining, two Flames chased Brad Marchand behind their own net, leaving Patrice Bergeron alone in front, who took the pass from Marchand and fed it across the slot to McAvoy for the redirection.

“It was such a heads-up play by (Bergeron) to pass that puck to me,” said McAvoy. “In a situation like that sometimes you're thinking about the clock but he was able to make the extra pass there."

Boston (47-8-5) opened up a 13-point lead over the Carolina Hurricanes atop the NHL's overall standings.

Blake Coleman, Dillon Dube and Jonathan Huberdeau scored for Calgary (27-21-13), whose playoff hopes continue to fade. The Flames are five points back of the Winnipeg Jets and Edmonton Oilers, who are tied for the two wild-card spots in the NHL's Western Conference.

“At this point in the year, we're scrambling for our lives. We're still fighting. We're gonna fight until the end,” said Zadorov. “It's a grown men's league, you can't feel sorry for yourself. You just gotta go out there and play hockey and compete and put all your effort into it.”

Boston had not generated fewer than 21 shots in a game or allowed more than 41 shots against and both of those marks fell with the Flames outshooting the visitors 57-20.

Down 2-0 after the first period despite holding a 19-5 edge in shots, the Flames kept up the pressure in the second, finally breaking through on Coleman's goal at 1:07 when he put a shot just inside the post.

The rest of the period it was all Ullmark, who stymied the Flames repeatedly.

Mikael Backlund had a short-handed breakaway. Jakob Pelletier was denied on a partial breakaway. Later in the period, Ullmark jabbed out his blocker to deny Huberdeau then snagged Pelletier's dangerous chance on the rebound.

The 29-year-old Swede is the league leader in wins (31), goals-against average (1.88) and save percentage (. 938). 

“We know we didn't play our best for that 65 minutes, but we played good enough in the end,” said Ullmark, whose previous career high for saves was 44.

“We know we're a great team. In our minds it was never a doubt that we could come back when they scored that 3-2 goal."

At the opposite end, starting goalie Dan Vladar was pulled after the first period in which he gave up two goals on five shots. He was replaced by Jacob Markstrom, who stopped 13 of 15 shots to take the loss.

After trailing most of the night, Dube tied it 2-2 at 8:16 of the third when he took Tyler Toffoli's pass and put a shot inside the far goalpost.

Less than 90 seconds later, the Flames took their first lead when Huberdeau's attempted pass to Pelletier deflected in off a Bruins' skate.

“Why do we have so many goalies come here and play well against us?” said Huberdeau.

"I feel like it's happened a lot of times. So is it us that can't find the back of the net, or is it the goalie that is too good? So that's a question we've gotta ask ourselves.”


The Bruins improved to 21-2-2 against the Western Conference. Included is an 11-1-2 mark against the Pacific Division.


Flames centre Nazem Kadri played in his 800th career game, while Coleman's marker was his 100th career goal.


Both teams made tweaks to its blue line. Matt Grzelcyk came back in for the Bruins after sitting out last game, bumping Brandon Carlo to the press box. The Flames switched their top two pairings that have been together all season with Noah Hanifin partnering with Chris Tanev and Andersson and MacKenzie Weegar forming a duo.


Bruins: Open a four-game home stand on Thursday against the Buffalo Sabres.

Flames: Host the Toronto Maple Leafs on Thursday.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 28, 2023.

Darren Haynes, The Canadian Press