Despite a 5-4 OT loss to Columbus on Monday, Boston Bruins forward Ryan Donato showed that he is ready for the NHL. The 21-year-old was signed to a two-way contract and called up to play instantaneously for Bruce Cassidy’s Bruins. The 2014 second-round draft pick served as a replacement for the injured Patrice Bergeron and had to make a name for himself while the opportunity was there.
Ryan Donato Puts Up Three Points in NHL Debut
Donato’s first test came against a playoff-pushing Columbus Blue Jackets team who could not afford to lose points. In the first period, Donato spent time on the first powerplay unit, generating scoring chances.
The opening period practically belonged to the Bruins, but Columbus goaltender Joonas Korpisalo stood in their way, stopping all 15 shots in the first. Although a backup, Korpisalo has not been playing like one. In his two previous games, he averaged a .913 save percentage while he replaced an ill Sergei Bobrovsky.
Donato on the Scoreboard
The Blue Jackets held a 1-0 lead going into the second, but with just over 13 minutes to play in the second frame, Donato’s hard work paid off. He worked on a give-and-go from Torey Krug and finished it with a one-timer past Korpisalo’s glove for his first career goal.
Not only was the goal enough to tie the game, but it also sparked an offensive surge for the Bruins. Just 1:47 later, Brad Marchand scored his 31st of the year on a point-blank dangle over the glove of Korpisalo.
The last time Bruins fans got excited about a home-grown rookie was Frank Vatrano, who put up impressive numbers in his first few games, but was eventually dealt to the Florida Panthers. During his time in Boston, the fans loved him. His ability to score goals in his rookie season, proven greatly by his hat trick against the Pittsburgh Penguins in 2015, brought fans to their feet and put him into consideration as a long-term solution. But despite this, Boston management decided that he wasn’t in the plans of the Bruins future.
With 19:40 of ice time and a team-leading six shots, Donato was put right into a spot as if he had been in the league for years. The trust that Cassidy had put in him early makes it seem like this won’t be the last time we see Donato this season. Of course, no one’s time is certain in the NHL, but Donato is showing signs of being a good fit right now in Boston as they prepare for the playoffs.
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