The Bruins got a taste of 9th place briefly tonight as the Detroit Red Wings were able to hold off the Minnesota Wild and take the 3rd spot in the Atlantic division. But Boston responded in the best way possible, defeating one of the better teams in the league in their home rink to regain a spot in the postseason.
Boston traded chances with the Blues to start this game, as both teams had to grind it out in the opening period and get a feel for each other. A good cycle in the offensive zone was followed by a bad pinch by defenseman Adam McQuaid, and Torey Krug was left all alone to defend a 2-on-1 from Jori Lehtera and Jaden Schwartz, who ripped a one-timer by Tuukka Rask for a 1-0 lead.
That lead would only last for 41 seconds, however. The Blues followed up the goal with a strong shift, before play was stopped for an injury to Kevan Miller. Miller would not return to the game after needing help off the ice. The defensive zone draw win saw John-Michael Liles make an outstanding stretch pass, finding Loui Eriksson at the opposing blue line, and Eriksson was able to finish on the chance and tie the game 1-1.
Loui Eriksson kicked off the goal scoring with this:https://t.co/LXEOMtloKT— Boston Bruins (@NHLBruins) April 2, 2016
The tie was short-lived as well. As Boston began to sustain pressure in the offensive zone, a good up-ice pass from Liles, followed by a quick slapper from Matt Beleskey, culminated with a shot into the pads of Brian Elliot, and a streaking David Krejci picked up the loose rebound to bury it for the 2-1 lead. It was Liles' 2nd assist of the period, and put the Bruins ahead going into intermission.
David Krejci's first goal of the night comes on the rebound:https://t.co/XbIoArqXgV— Boston Bruins (@NHLBruins) April 2, 2016
The 2nd Period didn't have the best start to it. First, David Pastrnak fell awkwardly and left the ice limping, leaving the Bruins bench down by two. Soon after, bad defensive play behind the Bruins net led to a loose puck chance, and Paul Stastny curled & dragged the puck to this backhand, putting it by Rask for the 2-2 tie.
Matt Beleskey wouldn't let Boston fall behind, and following a Krejci faceoff win, Beleskey was able to kick the puck to his stick before ripping a slapshot by Brian Elliot for his 15th goal of the season, and 2nd point of the night. Boston would go up 3-2 and match their highest goal total since March 12th.
Matt Beleskey lets it RIP:https://t.co/d5q6mAUZsN— Boston Bruins (@NHLBruins) April 2, 2016
With sustained pressure by Boston through the remainder of the middle frame, a great forecheck by Ryan Spooner, Frank Vatrano and Lee Stempniak forced a St. Louis turnover along the boards. Spooner dug the puck out and fed Stempniak, who dished a saucer pass on the backhand to Frank Vatrano in the slot. "The Nightmare" snapped the one-timer by Brian Elliot to give the Bruins a two-goal cushion.
The Blues came back with some great shifts in response, with good possession time in the Boston end of the ice. But an interference penalty by forward Ryan Reaves on Adam McQuaid put Boston on the powerplay. And after some chances in close for Ryan Spooner, David Krejci took the puck back to the point, and wristed a 40-footer through a screen, giving the Bruins a 5-2 that they would take into 2nd intermission.
The Bruins started the 3rd period on the penalty kill after a bad check to the head from Lee Stempniak carried over from the waning moments of the 2nd. After the team returned to even strength, a scramble in front of the net nearly resulted in an Alexander Steen goal, but Robert Bortuzzo found the puck on his stick and put it by Rask for his 2nd of the year, cutting the lead to 5-3.
The Blues quickly followed up on their momentum with another goal, in pretty much the same fashion. With havoc in front of Tuukka Rask, the Bruins were unable to clear the puck from the slot, and after a couple of big saves by Tuukka, Alex Pietrangelo patiently pulled the puck to his backhand, and put St. Louis just one goal behind with over 12 minutes left.
Tense moments followed each rush for the majority of the 3rd period, with St. Louis controlling of the play. Boston was able to clear the puck from the zone for line changes, but largely played dump & chase on offense, which led to them being out-shot in the 3rd by a 14-to-5 margin. The Bruins caught a break late in the period, when a charging penalty by Petteri Lindbohm would give Boston some breathing room on offense. Krejci was able to feed Krug at the point, and while the shot went wide, the puck kicked off the end boards and found Patrice Bergeron's forehand.
Bergeron scores his 30th of the season with a PPG that serves as the GWG:https://t.co/Qbix6RbnKb— Boston Bruins (@NHLBruins) April 2, 2016
Bergeron's goal was his 30th of the season, 12th of the year on the powerplay, and 6th game-winner, which ties Brad Marchand for the team lead. With the Bruins falling asleep defensively, Kevin Shattenkirk would add a goal of his own in the final seconds to cut the lead to 6-5, but the Bruins held off St. Louis' final scoring chances to take a much needed two points on the road as they head to Chicago for a matinee match on Sunday.
With a win against the Blackhawks, Boston can head home with 6 of a possible 8 points on their current four-game roadtrip. They'll play Carolina at home on Tuesday, before the Atlantic showdown against Detroit next Thursday. With so few games remaining, every point is huge.