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RECAP: Tuukka Rask continues to shine; Bruins defeat Blues, 3-1

Goals from Krejci, Bergeron, and Backes returned Boston to its winning ways.

NHL: St. Louis Blues at Boston Bruins
Backes ices Thursday’s game against his former team.
Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports

After Tuesday’s hiccup against Anaheim, the Bruins needed to put together a strong start in this game. With players missing from the lineup, returning to their former next-man-up mentality could help to solidify their place in the standings.

Would they muster the effort to play a complete game against the Blues? Would Rask continue his stellar play?

First Period

Adam McQuaid, taking a message from his shortened game on Tuesday, landed hits left and right. He took his benching to heart, and it would show throughout the game.

Jake DeBrusk used his speed effectively, gaining the offensive zone repeatedly, and Spooner showed his typical patience and control to settle down play once the puck got there. Danton Heinen nearly shoveled home a backhand and moments later tipped a point shot on goal, but couldn’t finish either chance. Shot totals piled up quickly, with 7 in the first five minutes (for both teams).

A net-front scramble led to a coaches’ challenge, but David Krejci’s garbage goal would stand, giving the Bruins the first goal of the game for the first time in their last nine games (since January 7). 1-0, good guys.

A few chippy moments left us wondering if the refs would ever call a penalty, and there were more than a few mentions of potential tripping calls at press level. The period would end with a couple more chances, but no more goals for either team.

Second Period

Peter Cehlarik made an early bock to keep a shot off of Rask, and the Bruins followed it up with some good offensive cycle. Krejci turned Blues D-man Vince Dunn inside out, but couldn’t put a close-in shot through Blues goalie Jake Allen. As the period progressed, the B’s would even up the shot count, getting ahead 19-17 before the midway point of the period.

The officials kept their whistles in their pockets, though they had far fewer chances to call penalties in this period. The B’s dominated play and tripled their shots on goal, ending with a 31-20 advantage, but no more scores.

Third Period

Kevan Miller was missing from the start of the third, and he would sit the rest of the game with an upper-body injury. He didn’t fight anybody, so it’s anybody’s guess as to what might be hurt. Heavy play dominated early, with some close calls around Rask’s net; Adam McQuaid managed to clean up a few of them, and Tuukka took care of the rest. In the Blues’ end, DeBrusk fed a backhand in front to Spooner, who nearly scored, but Allen got a shoulder on the shot to steer it wide.

The scoring chances waned in the middle of the frame, though the Bruins continued their strong play and dominated scoring chances for the rest of the game. The refs did employ their whistles a bit - four penalties were called in the period, the first of which was against the Blues. Patrice Bergeron took a short pass from Pastrnak in the corner, and buried it to put the Bruins up by two.

Matching calls off a particularly unfriendly scrum in front of Allen resulted in minors for Tim Schaller and Vince Dunn. Chara was also whistled for a slashing penalty with just under six minutes to go, though fortunately the Bruins would kill it off, and Chara laid a well-timed check from the penalty box to the bench to help the puck out of the defensive zone. With the net empty, St. Lous got one past Rask, but it was too little, too late, and with a very late empty-netter by former Blue David Backes, the Bruins would get out with a 3-1 win.

Game Notes

OK, just real quick, let’s revisit this save by Tuukka. He got a hefty piece of a tipped point shot, then stuffed the rebound backhand attempt by Jaden Schwartz. Filthy bidness, and not his only one of the night.

Alright, now that we’ve all relived that, on to the notes.

  • A solid, if not end-to-end, effort by the Bruins in the absence of several regulars. While we knew Brad Marchand and Charlie McAvoy would be unavailable, Kevan Miller didn’t play in the third period, resulting in four defensemen accumulating over 20 minutes of ice time.
  • In unrelated anything, Frank Vatrano played under seven minutes. Every other player was in double digits. Why. Is. He. On. A. One. Way. Contract.
  • Compared to Tuesday’s loss against Anaheim, the Bruins were much better at taking shots from the ‘home plate’ area (between the tops of the circles and below), by nearly ten percentage points. Though number of shot attempts were nearly even with the Blues, the Bruins far exceeded the quality of shot attempts by shooting more from this area.

Up Next: Toronto comes to visit on Saturday; game time is 7PM. The Maple Leafs also have a three-game winning streak for the Bruins to snap. LET’S GET TO IT.