The Bruins and the Preds had themselves a slow start to their game, not too many shots, not creating many opportunities, and both goaltenders keeping the scoresheet clean. It looked to be a Finnish goaltending battle for the ages.
At least, at first.
A bad sign for Boston came when Tuukka Rask took a shot upside his jaw/clavical/collarbone/face region where his mask couldn’t protect him and was doubled over in pain. He had to leave the game early in place of Zane McIntyre. From there, a harsh penalty on Anton Blidh for running Roman Josi over (who did not return) got Boston put on a 5 minute penalty kill with only 4 minutes left. They killed most of it, then went into the second period with a tied score of zip to zilch.
Then everything happened at once.
Finishing their Penalty Kill that kept the Preds to one shot, the Bruins unfortunately followed this up with a truly brutal shift in front of Zane McIntyre, and paid for it when Austin Watson went to the slot and shot through McIntyre’s five hole to get the scoring going for Nashville. 1-0 Preds.
The Bruins, feeling as if they were the better team, got a moment of frustration relief as Adam McQuaid just crushed Derek Grant on his first night in Nashville.
Let this be a lesson: The Boston defense can punch better than you can. DON’T FIGHT THEM!
And with that, the Bruins re-established their play and began playing their hearts out in front of Juuse Saros, and finally got one past him as Nashville shot the puck directly to Torey Krug, who unloaded a cannonball of a shot from the point right into the net.
Another goal, marking a good week Torey Krug has had lately.
Boston continued to press the advantage, with Saros keeping things even until an errant puck leaving the zone got to Filip Forsberg, who muscled his way past Brandon Carlo and shot the puck right through McIntyre. 2-1 Preds.
Not a great moment for Carlo or McIntyre, but Filip Forsberg is a world class talent that often gets overlooked when it comes to goal scoring. He’s good at this.
From that point, Boston continued to put shots on Saros, but to no avail as the period came to a close.
Third Period, or “The Period where Juuse Saros earned his 1st Star.”:
I know he let up a kind of braindead goal in the second by being super out-of-position but Boston tried, man.
They had every opportunity worth their salt to create scoring chances on Juuse Saros and he just turned all of them away. Spooner in the perfect position to score? Right across to get it. Catch him off-guard with a laser from the point? Saros had it.
Shot-after-shot-after-shot from the Bergeron line? Including David Pastrnak whose been fishing for a goal for awhile? Still nothing. Nashville did not play so much as defend for a vast majority of this period and Juuse Saros kept the scoresheet deadlocked with a performance that probably should earn him a raise come the end of the year. Even with 6 players on the ice Boston STILL couldn’t break through this guy.
The game ended, and Boston will come home more than a bit frustrated as they take on the Flyers on Saturday afternoon.
- If Tuukka is out for any stretch of time past a game or two, and I mean this without a shadow of a doubt: They’re boned. Zane McIntyre, in spite of facing less shots, ended his night below .900 in SV% and everyone else whose played the position this year for Boston in relief of Rask has not been able to play up to expectations. PLEASE BE OKAY, TUUKKA!
- I’m no goalie coach but eye test gave me the impression Zane McIntyre had a real weakness with moving around in the crease and keeping his pads down. That should be worked out.
- Boston had more shots, dominated possession, had the puck forever and ran into a Vezina candidate whose played like 10 games for Nashville. Juuse Saros in all but one of his games has put up the crazy .960-970 SV% performances we normally expect out of someone like...say...Carey Price. This guy is good.
- Your possession leaders for tonight’s game was the entire first line (Bergeron-Marchand-Pastrnak), Zdeno Chara, and Brandon Carlo.
- Of course, this is a subjective as every player except five skaters were over 50% in CF%. And one was Tuukka Rask.
- Blidh may not receive punishment for his penalty, but man that’s the kind of “play on the edge” kinda stuff that you ought to be careful about.
- Tim Schaller’s defensive game has really come into it’s own, he’s been great at completely disrupting opportunities.
- Krug saved the game from looking worse on paper than it did in-game towards the very end by making some decent saves with the net empty. Maybe he can put on some pads and play?
- Matinee game on Saturday, time to break out the Winter Classic sweaters!
See you at the game on Saturday! And let’s just hope Rask doesn’t miss significant time.