Boston Bruins: 6 Most Memorable Black Friday Games in Team History
One year after this local holiday tradition helped to pilot a new national TV custom, the NHL Thanksgiving Showdown on NBC, it was supposed to give that fledgling practice a booster. The mighty New York Rangers should have been in town for an elite Original Six clash and a timely follow-up on Thursday night’s NBC-televised Patriots-Jets matchup.
Just imagine if, sometime in the previous decade, a baseball stoppage had robbed the Red Sox of a Marathon Monday morning game against the Yankees and you will understand how Bruins buffs must be feeling this Friday. Or even, dare we say, if last year’s NFL lockout had lasted long enough to evaporate the Detroit Lions and Dallas Cowboys Thanksgiving Day games.
As it was in 1994 and 2004, the best a New England puckhead can do this year is reflect on the post-Thanksgiving games that have been successfully conducted, half of which have been Boston victories.
The Bruins are 10-7-3 all-time in this annual event, including three wins in as many tries against the rival Montreal Canadiens and a 2-1-1 mark against the Vancouver Canucks, albeit long before that franchise was a Stanley Cup championship adversary.
The Bruins’ top six Black Friday moments are recounted as follows in chronological order.
November 29, 1991
November 27, 1992
Both Ray Bourque and Adam Oates charged up a playmaker hat trick and Bourque inserted one of five goals in the Bruins’ second straight 5-4 Black Friday overtime win. Ted Donato, Dmitri Kvartalnov and Vladimir Ruzicka joined Boston’s multipoint club for the day with a goal and assist apiece against the Whalers.
As it happens, this remains the only Black Friday win in five tries so far against the Hartford/Carolina franchise.
November 29, 1996
At the first intermission, Boston was leading Vancouver, 4-0. By the second intermission, they had chased an overcooked Corey Hirsch out of the Canucks cage with six goals on 24 shots.
Steve Heinze and Jozef Stumpel co-piloted the salvo with two goals and one assist apiece in the 7-3 victory, which remained the franchise’s most prolific and lopsided post-Thanksgiving matinee for 12 years.
November 27, 1998
Saku Koivu broke the ice for the Canadiens in the second period, but the Bruins perked up with a vengeance at the 11th hour en route to a 5-1 triumph.
Reigning Calder Trophy recipient Sergei Samsonov inserted two of Boston’s five unanswered goals in the closing frame to help extend their winning streak to four games. Bourque pitched in a goal and an assist while Rob DiMaio and Dmitri Khristich each tallied two helpers.
November 29, 2002
The Bruins started New England’s holiday season by polishing off a four-game, nine-day homestand with their first confrontation with Montreal since the eighth-seeded Habs upset them in the preceding playoffs.
Richard Zednik deleted initial 1-0 and 2-1 deficits before either Boston lead was even three minutes old. But only 91 seconds after Zednik’s second equalizer, Michal Grosek renewed the edge with 14:20 to spare in regulation.
With 3:09 remaining, Joe Thornton buried an unassisted dose of insurance to finalize his two-point afternoon and his team’s 4-2 win, their fourth of five consecutive victories that improved them to 15-3-4.
November 28, 2008
Second-year head coach Claude Julien’s pupils had been turning heads all month with a 10-game (9-0-1) unbeaten streak. But a halting 3-2 regulation setback in Buffalo on Thanksgiving Eve made their next outing a potential test of their contender’s certificate.
Trailing the Islanders at the first intermission, 1-0, the Bruins answered with Chuck Kobasew’s equalizer at 3:28, Michael Ryder’s go-ahead goal at 15:16 of the middle frame and a five-goal firestorm in a span of 10:39 in the third period.
With two goals in the 7-2 romp, Ryder was joined in the day’s multipoint club by Matt Hunwick, Phil Kessel, David Krejci, Marc Savard, Dennis Wideman and Blake Wheeler. Another five Boston skaters chipped in a single point.
The Bruins followed up the next night with a 4-1 lashing of the defending Stanley Cup champion Red Wings. That gave them a 2-0-0 record in their new third jersey, an 11-1-1 finish to the month of November and reiterated their status as fast-rising contenders.