The game started on a high note, as David Backes, Riley Nash, and Danton Heinen came out flying. Nash had quick chance off the rush stopped by Calgary goalie David Rittich (starting in place of injured Mike Smith), but Backes fed him from behind the net for the first goal of the game just 28 seconds in.
From there, the first period went south. Matt Grzelcyk coughed up a bad turnover behind his own net just moments later, and Sam Bennett pounced for the game tying goal at 2:03.
The first period was largely a continuation of the sloppy defensive play typical of the Bruins’ last few games: Plenty of turnovers, missed checks, high danger chances surrendered.
At the 9:09 mark, Johnny Gaudreau cleaned up a rebound in a scrum to give the Flames a 2-1 lead that they would hold onto for the remainder of the period.
“That’s a heavy team with a lot of skill,” said Patrice Bergeron post-game. “In the first we had a few breakdowns again, but you have to come back and do a lot better.”
In the second period they did just that.
Amidst a slew of scrums and penalties, the Bruins poured on 16 shots in the period, largely dominating the puck throughout. After killing off a Calgary power play chance, the Bruins attacked with Nash, Time Schaller, and Charlie McAvoy on the rush. Nash finished a sweet pass from Schaller to tie the game at 16:20.
The game’s chaos was capsulized near the end of the period, when Schaller clipped Rittich’s skate on a fly-by. Rittich fell, shall we say, dramatically to the ice, and Schaller was called for tripping. Embellishment was a theme throughout for the Flames, as they sold call after call.
Nonetheless, the Bruins killed that penalty, as they did all five of the Flames chances.
I asked Tuukka Rask about his teams performance on the penalty kill: “Yeah, we did a great job. Kept them to the outside, not a lot of rebounds,” he said. “I think it was one of the biggest reasons we got the win today. It gave us some momentum. Big kill at the end of the second, and a big start in the third.”
In the third, Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy moved David Pastrnak off the top line, replacing him with David Backes.
It worked, as Patrice Bergeron scored, first on the power play (off a lovely pass from Torey Krug), then on a deflection set up by Backes and Brad Marchand. Halfway through the third, the Bruins had gone up 4-2.
“Stroke of genius, huh?” Cassidy joked when asked about the line shakeup. He did admit he was partly sending a message to Pastrnak, who took a bad penalty and wasn’t dangerous most of the night. “You’re going to have tough matchups come [the playoffs].”
Pastrnak was nonplussed, saying “To be honest, I don’t really think about. I don’t mind playing with anyone.”
As the game wound down, the Flames pulled Rittich with about four minutes left. Zdeno Chara promptly scored on a length-of-the-ice shot, putting this one out of reach.
The game was filled with scrums, including one where Brad Marchand was assessed an unsportsmanlike conduct minor, and the crowd turned hard on Rittich after his tumble.
The Bruins will be please to have another two points in their pocket going into their Western Canada trip. That starts Saturday in Vancouver.