The Bruins had gained at least one point in fourteen of their last fifteen games. The had won five games in a row, boasted the league's best power play and a white hot penalty kill. There was no way that the Bruins lost this game, especially considering Boston had the opportunity to eclipse the hated Habs for first place in the Atlantic division.
And then the Blues stormed into town.
Both teams play a similarly heavy style, based around forechecks emphasized with clean body checks. The Blues controlled vast amounts of the first period, pinning the Bruins in their own zone for chunks of time with constant body contact. The game featured 66 total hits, none of which resulted in a penalty.
Both teams did a fantastic job at limiting the opponents scoring chances. One-and-done shots were all too common, with either the rebound being controlled and corralled or the defense swiftly cleared the puck. Very few shots were taken from the high danger scoring area, or between the dots and inside of the circles. Often times, shooters would settle for outside attempts that were easily controllable.
The game featured few whistle or TV timeouts, and involved lots of transitional play. Both teams were extremely effective at breaking the puck out their own zones. Quick breakouts and neutral zone stretch passes worked to perfection and kept the game moving at a high pace.
Although the shot totals remained relatively regular, both goaltenders were on top of their games. After the second frame, neither team had cracked the scoreboard. Seven minutes into the third period, Vladimir Tarasenko split Colin Miller and Dennis Seidenberg off of a nice pass from Magnus Paajarvi and beat Tuukka Rask shortside to open the scoring. As the crowd fell into a hushed murmur, there was a feeling that the Bruins would be unable to overcome a simple one goal deficit-the game was so defensively sound that the first to score would be the victor.
Minutes later, Alex Pietrangelo connected with Robby Fabbri cross ice as the Bruins defense lackadaisically changed, and Fabbri ripped one over the glove hand of Rask to double the Blues' lead. To this point, the Blues had two third period goals and the Bruins had two third period shots. Yikes.
The Black and Gold couldn't find the back of the net, marking the first game of the 2015-16 where the Bruins were held scoreless.
The Bruins did not have the opportunity to showcase their league-leading power play, which is a further testament to the Blues' discipline. The coaching staff devised a strong gameplan, and the players executed it to perfection, which is why they were able to head into the Christmas mini break with a win.
The Bruins resume play again on Saturday night versus the Buffalo Sabres, when local phenom Jack Eichel returns home for the first time to play against his hometown team.