An incredibly shorthanded Boston Bruins squad went back on the road to play a team still hunting for a playoff spot.
Talk about a diminished lineup. The Boston Bruins traveled to St. Louis to take on the Blues, but found themselves without several roster mainstays. The B’s went into tonight’s game missing Patrice Bergeron, Charlie McAvoy, Zdeno Chara, Jake DeBrusk, David Backes, and Rick Nash. Before puck drop, Torey Krug was announced as a late scratch.
So, with the absences, this Bruins team now features the likes of Paul Postma, Jordan Szwarz, and the newest organizational addition, Ryan Donato. The Harvard boy, son of former Bruin Ted Donato, made his Bruins debut last game and did not disappoint, notching a goal and 2 assists. Could he keep the momentum going tonight in the Gateway to the West?
This game started…slowly. It was definitely a physical start to the game, with each team throwing their weight around. However, when it came to offensive chances, they were few and far between. David Krejci rang a post after making a few guys miss in the St. Louis zone, but other than that, nada.
The Bruins were the recipients of the first power play of the game on a Robert Bortuzzo cross-check, and the Bruins would take advantage. A fortuitous bounce off the referee in front of the net on an Alex Pietrangelo clearing attempt deposited the puck in the low slot. Ryan Donato pounced on the loose puck, firing it home passed Jake Allen for his 4th point in two games.
Donato’s goal was the only marker of the 1st period, but the level of physicality only increased. A scuffle at the end of the period led to matching penalties, meaning the 2nd would start at 4-on-4.
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The Blues clearly were the hungrier team to start the 2nd period. Given their dire need for points to make the playoffs, that makes sense. St. Louis started the period firing several shots on Anton Khudobin, all of which were saved with ease. Most importantly, each chance was one-and-done, even on the Blues early power play, including a nice stop on Jaden Schwartz.
Both teams then spent the next chunk of the frame trading chances. Allen robbed Brad Marchand with the glove on a set faceoff play. Khudobon stoned Scwartz again on another great chance. However, the ice was slanted towards the Bruins end of the ice, causing players to have lengthy shifts due to the long changes from the far bench.
A little scare in the 2nd when Krejci took a high hit from Brayden Schenn. Given Krejci’s injury history, it seemed like something that could have significant consequences. Krejci didn’t seem any worse for the wear. The Bruins power play was cut short by a Danton Heinen “slash.” I put that in quotes, because it was one of the weakest slash calls I have ever seen, even with the new rules for this season.
3rd period and beyond
The first half of the 3rd period was basically an exercise in futility for both teams’ offensive units. Each team would skate the puck down the boards, and the defense would stifle any offensive chances. The Blues were buzzing, however, and it seemed like they would get one in sooner or later. It was sooner.
After a lengthy span of back-and-forth hockey, Jaden Schwartz found himself skating down the left wing with the puck. A wicked wrist shot from one of the Blues’ best goal scorers beat Khudobin, and all of a sudden, the game was tied 1-1.
The Bruins were under siege for most of the remainder of the period. St. Louis needs points, and they were coming after them. As time was winding down, Khudobin make a sprawling blocker save to preserve the 1-1 score, and send the game to overtime.
Overtime didn’t last long, however. Jaden Schwartz came into the Bruins zone with a head of steam, and Matt Grzelcyk gave him WAY too much room without stepping up. Schwartz wired home his 2nd goal of the night to end the game.
Takeaways from the game
Kevan Miller was an absolute BEAST tonight. He was wearing an ‘A’ on his sweater, given all of the missing pieces. He was playing like a man possessed all night, like he wants to keep that ‘A’. He was his usual physical self, but also activated plays into the offensive zone.
I mentioned it previously, but nearly all of St. Louis’ scoring chances were one-and-done. Khudobin did a great job with rebound control, and if he didn’t control it, the defense was right on it to clear the puck. Some of the best team defense the Bruins have shown in a long time.
The Bruins only needed 1 point to clinch a playoff berth, and with tonight’s game, the Bruins have ensured they will be making their second straight playoff appearance. The Western Conference road trip continues to Dallas for a matchup with the Stars on Friday, with the Bruins still chasing Tampa Bay for 1st in the East.