BOSTON - “They can find each other without even looking”.
Normally, one should never start a story with a quote. However, Jaroslav Halak said it better than I ever could. After all, he was the one who passed the puck to Pastrnak and notched his eleventh career assist in his 14 year NHL career. He had the best seat in the house, as he could sit back and watch Pastrnak do what he does best.
The NHL’s leading scorer gathered the puck from Krejci, entering the zone with a head of steam as he prepared to challenge two Ranger defenders awaiting his arrival. He introduced Pavel Buchnevich to the spin-cycle, as the Russian forward twirled a full 360 degrees on a shot fake marvelously turned into a toe-drag. Adam Fox haplessly threw a stick check in Pastrnak’s direction as he attempted to siphon the attacker from the net.
Pastrnak himself might have been going too fast for his own good. Although he blew by the defense, he was at a bad angle to pull off a breakaway move. At the goal line, he spiraled around and fired the puck right onto David Krejci’s stick. Lundqvist was overly committed to Pastrnak and found himself out of position to be in the same area code as Krejci’s incoming shot. Buchnevich, stunned from his pirouette, was not in position to cover Krejci as he maneuvered his way into the slot. Lundqvist’s desperation diving attempt proved futile and the Bruins worked their magic again to capture two points.
“Maybe we haven’t been playing much together lately, but we always know about each other on the ice,” said Krejci, discussing playing with Pastrnak and the game’s final goal. “He’s such a dynamic player. He can draw one, two, three guys to him and our guys get open, and that’s exactly what happened on that goal.”
Although the game-winning goal was marvelous for the black and gold, the rest of the game was anything but that. The Bruins looked as if it was their third game in four days, losing races to the puck and trying to chip pucks instead of working to establish outright possession. After an energized first three minutes, the Bruins struggled to establish zone time in front of King Henrik until late in the second period. The team looked as if they had indulged with an abundance of turkey and stuffing the day prior, as the unit was lackadaisical in their puck pursuit and breakouts at times.
Once Charlie McAvoy dropped the gloves with Brendan Smith, players found a jolt in their step. Although he might have been on the losing end of the bout, Smith is a tough customer and McAvoy willingness to exchange haymakers did not go unnoticed. All of sudden, the B’s finished their checks and didn’t shy away from moving their feet an extra couple of strides to make a play. Jack Studnicka, in his second career NHL game, won a battle to the puck which kept the offensive zone control. Jake DeBrusk fired the puck on net from the blue line, which Sean Kuraly deflected off the post. Lundqvist, in an attempt to clear the loose puck from the blue paint, paddled it into his own net.
The Bruins had life.
“It’s just effort,” said Bruce Cassidy, Studnicka’s effort to keep the play alive, which lead to the Bruins’ first goal. “It’s not high end, it’s just an effort play. Some will. We hadn’t thrown many pucks at the net. Good for Jake to throw it at the net, get some traffic, force Lundqvist to find some pucks and we got a break. I think we created that break ourselves.”
The Bruins battled discipline issues throughout the contest. The black and gold accumulated six penalties, which included over a minute of five-on-three play and also a four-minute man down situation late in the third period. The Bruins penalty kill gave them life, thwarting off any chances that the Rangers could muster. The Rangers had a couple of opportunities from quick passing plays that found a man in the slot, but the Bruins tightened up their system and were able to stymie the blueshirt’s man advantage.
“Tough game, couldn’t get anything going, but we stuck with it,” said David Pastrnak, after his two-point effort. “Our kill and Jaro gave us a great chance.”
Jaroslav Halak earned his sixth win of the year, making timely stops to keep the Bruins afloat, even when facing a two-goal deficit. He made pad stop after pad stop, stonewalling several quality Ranger chances.
A listless matinee effort transformed into yet another Bruins comeback victory. The team overcame penalty troubles, found depth scoring, and relied upon its stars to create another memorable highlight-reel moment.
The Bruins next take the ice on Sunday night, as they welcome the rival Montreal Canadiens to town.