After another OT loss in St. Louis, the Bruins traveled south to take on the Stars and their fading playoff chances.
The Bruins officially clinched a playoff berth in Wednesday’s OT loss, and with two weeks till the season ends, the division title is still up for grabs. With Tampa Bay idle, the Bruins had a chance to cut the deficit to four points. But they needed to defeat the Dallas Stars first, who are playing for a playoff berth. Torey Krug would miss this game as well, so if the Bruins want the division crown, this depleted Bruins lineup needed two points.
The first goal of the night occurred very early in tonight’s contest. After some early pressure by the Stars, an Esa Lindell shot from just outside the left circle snuck by Rask to give the Stars an early 1-0, just two and a half minutes into the game. Dallas proceeded to dominate most of the 1st period, highlighted by two powerplays, that resulted in plenty of sustained offensive zone time but they couldn’t add a second goal. Tuukka Rask made some big stops while shorthanded to keep it a one goal game. Both Bruins penalties were courtesy of Riley Nash, the first was a slashing call, followed by a boarding penalty.
The Bruins were able to get some chances on goal, but most of their offensive entries lead to very little zone time. A good majority of those entries had zone time of fewer than 10 seconds of zone time. So the Bruins could enter the zone fine, but couldn’t string together much sustained offensive pressure. Even with their chances, the Stars lead on the shot chart 17-10 and on the scoreboard 1-0 at the end of the first period, which they completely controlled the play for the majority of the opening 20 minutes.
The second frame opened with another flurry by the Stars. Tuukka Rask stood tall again shutting down the Stars early in the second, and his most impressive stops were a double save on Jamie Benn, stopping his original shot, then a spectacular save that stopped Benn’s rebound opportunity. The Bruins continued to get chances as the period wore on, but Kari Lehtonen kept the Bruins off the board. Boston got three powerplay opportunities in this period, and with all of the injuries to top guys, it leads to Paul Postma on the back end of powerplay units. I have nothing against the Postman, but ideally, I don’t want him on the powerplay, and it clearly shows how many key guys are down at the moment because a guy who was a healthy scratch or in the AHL for 90% of the year is playing on the man advantage.
The Bruins went on their third powerplay of the period, late in the frame. With under a minute to go in the period, a miscommunication between Brad Marchand and Matt Grzelcyk lead to a Jamie Benn shorthanded break and his silky smooth finish beat Rask for what seemed like a back-breaking goal with 38 seconds remaining in the period. Both teams left the ice after 40 minutes with Dallas in front of Boston 2-0.
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As this team has shown all year, they do not quit. Just 1:17 into the final period, a great pass by Riley Nash from his knees found David Pastrnak and his shot deflected off of Marchand’s knee and past Lehtonen to cut the Stars lead in half. Now down only one goal with almost a whole period to play, this game was not close to over. But, nine minutes into the period, Brandon Carlo was called for boarding and Dallas’s powerplay was looking dangerous all night and they had another chance to put the game away. However, this time it was the Bruins turn to capitalize while shorthanded. Kevan Miller’s clear bounced off of Tyler Seguin and Boston broke out on a two on one rush. John Klingberg collapsed on Brad Marchand, which freed up Timmy Schaller and his dirty dangles to drop Lehtonen and backhand the puck past the downed Dallas goalie to tie the game at two.
With the game tied at two, the Black and Gold were searching for a winner to cap off the comeback. But, as the clock ticked down it seemed like we were headed for another overtime game, that would be their third OT game in a row. But, with 38 seconds remaining in the game, the Stars did what they had been doing the whole game, and iced the puck. This one came back to bite them as with 11 seconds left Marchand passed the puck down to Pastrnak in front of the net. Pastrnak dragged the puck out in front of goal and slid the puck past a sprawled out Lehtonen to give the Bruins a late winner to defeat the Stars 3-2.
- Torey Krug missed his second straight game and in his absence, Nick Holden lead the team in TOI at 25:31.
- Tuukka Rask was named the game’s first star as he stopped 40 out of 42 shots and kept the Bruins in the game early as Dallas was really pouring it on offensively.
- After recent struggles, Danton Heinen played another strong game without registering on the scoresheet, but was creating in the offensive zone and had some good looks on goal.
- The Bruins are back at it Sunday night in Minnesota.