Bruins 3, Senators 2: When 'next man up' works

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Photo credit Marc DesRosiers/USA TODAY Sports

It’s cliche to say that you want to live with a ‘next man up’ mentality in the face of an injury or suspension. And when you’re talking about a superstar talent, it’s frequently nothing more than a muted rah-rah to keep your team’s mindset where it needs to be.

But with Brad Marchand on the shelf by way of yet another unnecessary incident that earned him a five-game suspension that began Thursday night in Ottawa, Bruce Cassidy’s squad backed up that philosophy with left-side contributions across the board in a 3-2 victory over the Senators.

In every situation, too.

Despite surrendering the first goal for the seventh game in a row, the Bruins (as they have in countless games throughout this current run) responded on the power play when Danton Heinen batted a puck out of mid-air through Ottawa’s Mike Condon.

Fittingly, it was a game-tying goal that came with Heinen back on the first power-play unit, and in the spot typically occupied by the suspended Marchand, too.

When the B’s pulled ahead in the third period, it was with a shorthanded finish from Tim Schaller. Schaller, like Heinen on the power play, found himself skating in Marchand’s spot as the No. 1 penalty-killing winger next to Patrice Bergeron for the goal.

And when the Bruins scored their third and final goal of the night, it was off a throw-it-on attempt from Bruins rookie Jake DeBrusk that made Condon probably regret everything.

The common theme, of course, is that these are the three wingers that have skated behind Marchand on the Black and Gold’s left wing depth chart since Day 1.

They’re also three players that you’ve relied on for all of the things that Marchand has done this season. In the case of DeBrusk, it’s about using your speed to create chances and fire shots on net. DeBrusk finished with four shots (on six attempts) in 15:27 of action. Heinen channeled his inner-Marchand with the two-way game and simple-but-smart plays you’ve come to expect out of him with this strong rookie season, and Schaller provided the shorthanded aggression that’s made the Bergeron-Marchand shorthanded combination as dangerous as some lines are with three skaters.

It also proves that the Bruins are not a one-line team, despite the otherworldly domination from the Marchand-Bergeron-Pastrnak combination this season.

“It proves that we can win with anybody in the lineup,” Schaller, who is now just one goal away from matching his total from a season ago, said after the win. “Obviously, they’re definitely a lose to not be in the lineup, but we got two points, and that’s big.”

Tuukka Rask made 21 saves in the winning effort, which extended the B’s point streak to a staggering 18 games, their longest since the 1968-69 season.

The Bruins will now enter the All-Star break -- with the exception of Marchand, who will still compete in the All-Star Game despite his current five-game suspension handed down on Wednesday -- before returning to the ice Tuesday against the Ducks.

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