The Boston Bruins defeated the Ottawa Senators last night at the Boston Garden by a score of 2-1. It was a hard-fought game and was eventually settled in overtime by Bruins center Patrice Bergeron.
It was the Bruins 5th win in a row and they improved to 13-2-2 on the season. However during the game they had their penalty-kill streak snapped as they had killed 27 straight penalties and were 4 seconds away from their 28th in a row before the Senators scored on the power-play.
It was an “ugly goal” for the Senators, who saw Bruins goaltender Tuukka Rask make a great save on a breakaway, but they were undeterred and kept digging away until the puck and game-tying goal was in the back of the net.
With that power-play goal the Senators joined a small group of teams that have scored on the Bruins elite PK-unit. Only four teams have done it so it is indeed a small group that consists of the Montreal Canadiens, Buffalo Sabres, New Jersey Devils and now the Senators.
Pretty impressive when you realize the Bruins have been shorthanded 66 times, yet have only yielded four PP goals. That makes the B’s a league best and absolutely ridiculous 93.9% on the penalty-kill. To put that number into perspective, last season they finished at 83.5%, a full 10% below this season’s 93.9% and they were ranked 11th in the league.
While the Bruins penalty-killers have been great, a lot of credit lands squarely on the shoulders of Rask who has been sensational in net for most of the season. He is the wall behind the wall and he is now tied for the league lead in wins with 11 to go with a sterling 1.82 goals against average and a .933 save percentage.
It’s no surprise that the key to the Bruins success this year has started from the back-end out as that’s how this team is built. When they won the Stanley Cup in 2011 it was with amazing goaltending, solid defense, an effective PK and timely scoring.
It’s a formula that works for the B’s and if they keep winning while killing penalties, they may find themselves back in the promised land sooner rather than later.
Oh, and having a goalie like Rask playing out of his mind doesn’t hurt either.