The Bruins and Stars played what can only be described as a preview of playoff hockey Thursday night. Both teams played strong defensively, there was plenty of hitting to go around and the offense was hard to come by despite the final score. Ondrej Kase would make his Bruins debut in the game starting on the new second line with fellow deadline acquisition Nick Ritchie and David Krejci at center. The Bruins mixed and matched lines throughout the game, sometimes because of penalties and because of an injury to Wagner at the end of the second period. Let’s get to the break down of all the action.
This game was a defensive struggle from the opening face-off. For the first ten minutes of the game the Bruins were clearly controlling the action but unable to generate many quality scoring chances. Dallas wouldn’t even get their first shot on goal until over nine minutes into the game. Dallas would get a quality chance though as Gurianov out skated Krug in a race for a loose puck getting in on Halak with a step, but he was unable to finish. The Bruins would go on the first power play with just under seven minutes to go in the period. The power play would create several quality chances, but Bishop was able to turn them all away. Matt Grzelcyk would commit Boston’s first penalty after a bad turnover in the offensive zone. While on the power play Benn would deflect a point shot into the net giving Dallas the 1-0 lead with just over two minutes left in the period. The milestone goal was the 300th of Benn’s career. The Bruins would go on another power play just before the end of the period and this time would be able to finish. Charlie Coyle would bat a puck out of mid-air and into the net to tie the score at one in the final seconds if the period.
The second period did not get off to a good start for the Bruins as Dallas had a number of scoring chances in the first few minutes. Halak stood tall and would not let the puck in the net behind him. After the first five minutes of the period, both teams had hit a post but the score was still 1-1. About 11 minutes into the period Janmark would get a decent scoring chance, but as the puck cleared the zone everyones attention was turned back towards the Bruins goal. For the first time since the 2010-11 season David Krejci dropped the gloves against Joe Pavelski. Krejci may have caught Pavs by surprise as he was able to control the bout, throwing several haymakers right into his opponent’s face. The fight clearly energized the Bruins, and just three minutes later the Bruins would take the lead. McAvoy would go deep into the offensive zone down by the left dot and hit Marchand with a pass across the front of the goal and it was in the open net, 2-1 Bruins. The Bruins kept the momentum going, and just over a minute later on a puck bouncing around some traffic in front it found its way onto the stick of Nick Ritchie. From right in the middle of the slot Ritchie would fire a shot into traffic that deflected off a Stars defenseman and into the back of the net for his first goal as a Bruin. The second period would end with the Bruins up 3-1, but an injury to Wagner after tackling a Stars player to the ice was an unfortunate end to a good period.
The Bruins would start the period on the penalty kill and would not allow a Stars shot. Soon after the penalty expired the Stars cut the lead back to one after a point shot was tipped in by Gurianov off of Krug’s leg. The Bruins would not take long to answer back, and just over two minutes later Pasta would carry the puck into the offensive zone. A give and go with Ritchie would see Pasta put home his 46th goal of the season, extending his league lead and giving the Bruins a two-goal lead 4-2. Dallas, now fighting against the clock, was taking any and every opportunity to fire a shot at the net to get their offense going once again. Halak would not waiver and continued to turn aside shots as the Bruins kept dumping the puck deep bleeding down the clock. With just over two minutes left and the net empty, Marchand would see his shot deflected away. During the ensuing odd-man rush for Dallas Halak would make two great saves, but a rebound would go off of Chara’s skate and into the back of the net to cut the lead back to one. Fortunately the Bruins weathered the final minute plus of the game and walked away with the 4-3 victory.
Three Stars/Final Thoughts
The first star of the game goes to Nick Ritchie. With his first two points as a Bruin and his physical contributions he looked every bit the player we were hoping to see after the trade just a few days ago. The second star goes to David Pastrnak, who scored the game winner and was all over the ice playing well in all three zones. The third and final star goes to Jaroslav Halak, who picked up his sixth straight win as a starter and outside of two deflected shots and an own goal was clearly on top of his game. On the downside Ondrej Kase, the other new Bruins forward, didn’t have the best game. Hopefully he will be able to settle in becoming a key contributor down the stretch. The Bruins will face the Islanders next, continuing a tough stretch of play against playoff-contending teams. Don’t forget to check out our other team pages and come back for all the latest Boston sports coverage.
Featured image courtesy of John Tlumacki/Globe Staff