This one had all the hallmarks of a must-win game. A low-ranked opponent. A lineup (mostly) getting healthier by the day. A top line that’s rolling.
The Garden Faithful may have wanted to get to their seats early for this game.
Before a third of B’s in-person fans had settled into their seats, this game was underway. On the first rush of their first shift, David Pastrnak cut off a clearing attempt; Patrice Bergeron collected the chip-in to the corner and slid it back to David Pastrnak, who then whipped it dot-to-dot to Brad Marchand. Elite Brad didn’t miss. 1-0, Bruins, 15 seconds in.
For the first half of the period, the B’s didn’t let up the pressure - David Backes charged hard to the net multiple times, building on his energy from last game. His linemates were buzzing, too; and, coach Bruce Cassidy rolled his lines effectively.
It was a back and forth period, so Tuukka Rask was busier than he might’ve expected; as the period wore on, Arizona put bodies closer and closer to the crease, and it started to create a bit of havoc. With a few minutes to go in the period, Christian Dvorak blocked a Brandon Carlo breakout pass and walked around him to drive the net from an odd angle, and he managed to fire a backhand around Tuukka’s glove. 1-1 game.
The Bruins were able to stifle the Coyotes for the last few minutes of the period, taking several shots from in close and causing turnovers behind the net.
The second started off quirky... blown tires left and right, a scary collision between two Coyotes players, and a few too many easy entries for Arizona. The defense was struggling to clear the slot, and as a result Tuukka had to fend off legs as well as pucks.
Matt Grzelcyk was electric in this period, jumping into the offensive before rushing back to stifle a long lead pass that could have been a clean shot with speed.
Backes continued his brilliance, and it looks like while he may still be regaining his playing weight after intestinal surgery (and, for those who don’t know, it’s almost impossible to NOT lose weight through those procedures), he’s looking quick on his feet and kept several pucks alive in the offensive corners.
Lost in the individual player bright spots was the tilt that Arizona put on the ice for the middle portion of this period. Towards the end, however, the Coyotes began taking penalties - and, though the B’s couldn’t capitalize with the man advantage, they did capitalize off of the momentum that had built. David Backes tipped home a Riley Nash high-slot shot to put Boston ahead, 2-1.
With under a minute remaining in the period, and after Boston had emphatically put Arizona on their heels, Backes made a great pick-off from an Arizona D-to-D pass, settled the puck while charging the net, and fired home a wrist shot just by Wedgewood’s outstretched glove. 3-1, Boston.
Oliver Ekman-Larsson took an interference penalty with four seconds to play, which set up the B’s well for the start of the third.
Not wanting Ollie to sit in solitude, Luke Schenn was called for hooking just 30 seconds in. With the 5-on-3 advantage, the Bruins made no mistake. Assists were had by all. 4-1, Bruins.
As the penalty to Schenn ended, the Bruins built up a strong shot lead, leaping ahead to 21-14 in their favor just five minutes in (compared to 17-13 at the end of the second). Brandon Carlo made a rush to the goal, and Tuukka stood tall once Arizona rounded into 5v5 form again.
Boston kept wearing down Arizona, maintaining a possession and shot lead for the last portion of the period. That final persistence paid off with two quick goals in the last few minutes of the period. Here’s both of them, courtesy of Marina Molnar.
Boston would push Arizona around, allowing just two more shots (and two LOUD posts) through the rest of the period to seal the win.
- While Backes led the way to victory by owning the second period, the wealth was more spread out than it might seem - the first and third line players had two points each, while the shutdown line became more and more effective as the game went on. The Bruins’ ability to stifle attack and counter-rush was on ~85% display last night.
- Cassidy and his staff paid close attention to spreading out playing time amongst the forwards; the lowest totals were Debrusk and Bjork at just over 12 minutes. The top of the board up front? Danton Heinen, who logged 19:25, more than half of the B’s defensemen. (OK, three and a half minutes of power-play time inflated that a bit.)
- Tuukka has had more interesting nights, but he did have some work to do. Since he was lightly tested tonight, perhaps Rask will play their next game as well before Dobby takes the first one (Detroit) on the back-to-back next week.
See everybody on Saturday where we can build on the momentum!