ANAHEIM, Calif. — Matt Poitras scored his first NHL goal Sunday against the Anaheim Ducks. The 19-year-old added a second for the game winner in the Boston Bruins’ 3-1 victory, their fifth in five games.
Naturally, Poitras was awarded the game puck after the win. As the rookie cleared his throat to address the room, his delighted teammates drowned out what he was trying to say.
“They were cheering over my speech,” Poitras said with a smile. “So, ‘Good job.’”
This has not been an easy three-game swing through California for Poitras. He was hushed against the San Jose Sharks in the first stop. Poitras rebounded against the Los Angeles Kings on Saturday.
But the teenager was feeling the weight of his first NHL back-to-back against the Ducks. Scoring his first goal suddenly made him forget about his fatigue.
“I was getting a little tired in the third,” Poitras said. “Soon as that one went in, the juice went right to the legs. I felt great.”
Poitras’ first career strike started off a Bruins’ jailbreak. After taking a pass off the wall from Jake DeBrusk, Ian Mitchell sauced the puck to Morgan Geekie to trigger the rush. Geekie barreled down the left wing. John Gibson went with him, dropping down into the butterfly to seal off the strongside post.
Poitras, after hesitating for Geekie to enter the zone, punched the gas to get inside Brett Leason. When Geekie sent a backhand pass into the slot, Poitras arrived at the top of the crease to put the puck into the net at 6:29 of the third period.
Poitras shouted with happiness and slammed the Honda Center glass. Kevin Shattenkirk nabbed Poitras’ puck. Poitras said it will go home to his parents in Whitby, Ontario.
POTSY WITH HIS FIRST 🚨 pic.twitter.com/RMTQrlv2qt
— Boston Bruins (@NHLBruins) October 23, 2023
“It’s pretty surreal,” Poitras said. “Just seeing the puck go in the net, I was really excited. I don’t really know what I did. Kind of blacked out a little bit. Just super excited and super happy. It’s a surreal feeling.”
Poitras was not finished. Later in the third, DeBrusk winged a shot on net from the right dot. Gibson stopped DeBrusk’s shot. But Poitras, who had been screening Gibson, was in the perfect spot to whack home the rebound to give the Bruins a 2-1 lead.
“If you’re going to produce in this league, you’ve got to be willing to play inside the dots,” coach Jim Montgomery said. “That’s what I love about him. Whether it’s one-on-one battles in corners or getting in the hard areas, he’s willing to go to the areas where you’re going to have success.”
Poitras can stay with the varsity for nine games before burning the first season of his entry-level contract. He is more than halfway there. Through five games, he has two goals and one assist while averaging 14:09 of ice time per appearance. He logged a career-high 16:07 against the Ducks, partly because of the late-game time Montgomery gave him to chase a hat trick.
Poitras came up short in that pursuit. But if he continues to produce, Poitras’ quest to reach the 10-game threshold may be fulfilled come Nov. 2. That game will be against his hometown Toronto Maple Leafs, of all teams.
“He’s a hockey player,” Montgomery said. “He competes. He believes in himself. He’s always willing to hang on to pucks and make plays that are going to produce offense.”
DeBrusk takes blame for healthy scratch
DeBrusk played with pace against the Ducks. In the first period, he whistled a short-handed breakaway off the left post. The left wing assisted on Poitras’ second goal. DeBrusk had two shots in 17:19 of ice time.
He was motivated to produce. DeBrusk took that opportunity away from himself against the Kings by being late to a team meeting.
“We have a high standard on this team. We have a higher standard than people give credit for,” said DeBrusk, scratched Saturday as his punishment. “I broke a team rule. I understand there’s consequences for that. I own up to it completely. I let the guys down. I wanted to join them in L.A. yesterday. Having to watch really sucked. I felt it. I just wanted to do anything I could to help the team out today.”
The 27-year-old played most of the game on the No. 2 line with Poitras and Geekie. He was back in the penalty-killing rotation and on the No. 2 power-play unit.
“There’s just a standard that we believe in here,” Montgomery said before Sunday’s game. “When that standard isn’t met, there’s repercussions. But yesterday’s over with. It’s a new day and we’re moving forward.”
Ullmark stays hot
According to Natural Stat Trick, the Ducks were expected to score 3.63 all-situations goals against the Bruins. Linus Ullmark said otherwise.
The ace stayed undefeated with a 30-stop win. Anaheim’s only goal came on a rebound follow-up for Mason McTavish. Ullmark had stuffed Ryan Strome on a two-on-one east-west rush.
Ullmark has a .962 save percentage. Jeremy Swayman is at .943.
“Our goaltending has been really good,” Montgomery said. “Probably why we’re unbeaten is because of the great job both of them have been doing.”
Ullmark had to hold his ground early in the third when the score was 0-0. Ex-Bruin Frank Vatrano took two short-range attempts. Ullmark locked his toe into the strongside post and kept himself upright to keep the puck from going in.
“Offseason, baby,” Ullmark cracked when asked how he held the line. “I felt like I tore everything in my body at that point. But we did a great job in the offseason and during the beginning of the season as well, together with the trainers, to keep the hips in a good mood, being strong and flexible. I’m very happy I’m taking the steps needed to stand in there, hold onto the edge and keep it outside the net.”
Lucic limps off
Milan Lucic tried to take pregame warmups. But after one lap, the left wing called it quits. He limped down the runway once he got off the ice.
Lucic was hammered by a Derek Forbort one-timer in Saturday’s second period. Lucic hobbled to the bench after being hit, but he finished the game.
Forbort was also unavailable because of a lower-body injury. Shattenkirk, a healthy scratch against the Kings, replaced Forbort.
(Photo: Kiyoshi Mio / USA Today)