Bruins owe Game 3 win to Derek Forbort's fantastic defense, penalty killing

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Bruins owe Game 3 win to Forbort's fantastic defense, penalty killing originally appeared on NBC Sports Boston

BOSTON -- A player like Derek Forbort doesn't get a ton of credit for the kind of game he plays, but make no mistake, the Bruins don't win Game 3 of their first-round playoff series against the Hurricanes without his toughness and penalty killing Friday night.

He tallied a game-high nine blocked shots, broke up several passes and threw his body around to physically wear down a red-hot Hurricanes offense that scored 10 goals in the previous two games.

Swayman aces first playoff test for Bruins with great performance in Game 3 win

"He's one of those guys who plays the game that guys don't want to play. He sacrifices every night for the group," Bruins forward Brad Marchand said of Forbort. "He puts his body in harm's way. Those are the guys you win with in the playoffs. You need to have guys who are willing to put their body on the line and risk getting hurt every night if you want to go deep. He was a huge reason (we won).

"He blocked some really good opportunities from that team over there, and he has all year. He's a reason why we're in the position we're in, and he's a big reason we won tonight, and a huge reason why the penalty kill was good at big moments tonight. You've got to give him a ton of credit. Sometimes those guys who eat pucks and play hard like that don't get the credit they deserve, but it's great that he's getting the recognition because you don't win without guys like that."

Bruins goalie Jeremy Swayman was more succinct in his assessment of Forbort's play.

"I love that guy. He's the man."

Forbort played an exceptional game in all situations, but the penalty kill is where he really shined. The Hurricanes had five power plays. They scored twice with the man advantage in their 5-2 win in Game 2. Boston had to improve on the penalty kill entering Game 3, and Forbort led the charge.

He played a team-high 6:42 on the penalty kill and blocked six shots in those minutes. The Hurricanes also tallied just three shots on net during Forbort's shorthanded ice time.

Here's a look at the heatmap of Forbort's contributions, via Natural Stat Trick:

Natural Stat Trick

When the Bruins signed Forbort in free agency last summer, this kind of performance was what they expected come playoff time. He played a key role on the Winnipeg Jets penalty kill and ranked top five among all players in blocked shots last season. He's a classic defensive defenseman.

It's hard to overstate the importance of the Bruins getting quality performances from Forbort and Mike Reilly on Friday night, especially with the team's second-best defenseman, Hampus Lindholm, unable to play after taking a huge hit in Game 2.

These guys stepping up in Lindholm's absence was a huge factor in the Bruins getting their first win of Round 1. Whether Forbort and Reilly can perform at this level on a consistent basis will play a pivotal role in the outcome of the series.