BOSTON — Garnet Hathaway broke a third-period tie to lead Boston to a 3-2 victory over the Detroit Red Wings on Saturday, giving the Bruins their 50th win of the season and making them the fastest team to reach the milestone in NHL history.
The Bruins needed only 64 games to reach 50 wins, beating the record of 66 set by the 1995-96 Red Wings and matched by the 2018-19 Lightning. The Bruins could become the first team this season to clinch a playoff berth, depending on other games later Saturday.
Hampus Lindholm and Patrice Bergeron scored 88 seconds apart to help Boston rally from a two-goal deficit, and Linus Ullmark stopped 30 shots. The Bruins won 10 straight games before losing to Edmonton on Thursday.
“I said to the team, after the first [period], I said, ‘If we start checking, I’ve seen you guys before — when you guys are moving the puck like you are right now, we usually come back and win,'” Boston coach Jim Montgomery said. “So, you could see our game coming. We just needed to be a little harder on the puck.”
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Magnus Hellberg made 35 saves for Detroit, which snapped a six-game losing streak by beating Chicago on Thursday. Andrew Copp scored a short-handed goal in the second minute of the first period, and Alex Chiasson also scored.
They gave the Red Wings a 2-0 lead before the game was 5 minutes old, but the Bruins came back with a dominant second period in which they had the first 12 shots on goal and an 18-2 edge in shots in all.
“It was probably the penalties,” Detroit coach Derek Lalonde said. “Our four penalties happened in the first 30, 35 minutes, and it’s just too much on our group. And it just gives [Boston’s] top guys too much momentum.”
Lindholm scored with seven minutes gone in the second, and the Red Wings appeared to respond quickly. But Dylan Larkin‘s goal was taken off the board because he had smacked the stick out of David Krejci‘s hands seconds earlier.
Instead, Bergeron tied it on the power play, deflecting a pass from Jake DeBrusk through Hellberg’s legs. It stayed that way until Hathaway gathered in a rebound with his backhand and then poked it behind the goalie to give Boston its first lead of the game.
It was the first Bruins goal for Hathaway, who arrived in Boston before the trade deadline from the Washington Capitals and has played on Boston’s fourth line since his arrival.
“Really deserving. I thought they were our best line all night long, right from the first shift of the game,” Montgomery said. “They had a lot of good looks and spent a lot of time in the [offensive] zone.”
The teams play again in Detroit on Sunday. Before Saturday’s win, Montgomery said that backup goaltender Jeremy Swayman would start the second game of the weekend set.
“Fifty wins is great. And it’s kind of a testament to how hard this team has continued to work throughout the year,” Hathaway said. “But I think guys want 51, you know? Guys are excited to play this team [Sunday] already.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.