The Bruins continued their Florida road trip against the Panthers in a matchup with playoff standings implications. The Bruins entered the night looking for their fourth win in a row, while Florida entered trying not to lose it's fourth in a row. Last night’s game was also career start number 500 for Bruins goalie Jaroslav Halak. An impressive milestone that would be made even better with a Bruins victory over a desperate Panthers team. This was another playoff atmosphere type of game, where two top offenses would have some serious difficulty getting the puck in the net. Let's break down the action.
Both teams struggled to gain any serious momentum out of the gate. About seven minutes into the period the Panther's top line went to work. The line dominated the offensive zone, creating multiple chances that would all be turned away by Halak. A scary moment for the Bruins occurred when Kase and Dadonov collided knee on knee and Kase would need to be helped off the ice. Fortunately he was able to return a short time later no worse for wear. A penalty was called on the Bruins for the play, but it was killed off without any trouble. Tempers were clearly high after the hit, resulting in a fight between Ritchie and Stillman. This was a decision Stillman would regret almost immediately, as Ritchie dropped him like a bad habit. With just under a minute left in the period the Bruins would go on the power play. The Panthers kill would survive the remaining minute and the period would end tied at zero, with the Bruins outshooting Florida twelve to four.
The second period started with the Bruins on the power play for just over a minute, but they would not be able to score. Just over five minutes in Halak would make a fantastic save on a tipped shot by Hoffman. Shortly after that chance Florida would strike on a point shot. Krug and Vatrano fought for position in front of Halak, preventing him from getting a clear view. In the first half of the period, the Bruins were outplayed and outshot eight to zero. Once again Dadonov would be involved in a play injuring a Bruins player, this time Brandon Carlo. As Carlo and Dadonov pursued a puck by the boards Dadonov looked over his shoulder to see the closing Carlo and delivered an elbow square to the defenseman’s mouth. The blow knocked Carlo to the ice in pain and caused him to miss the rest of the game. The call was initially a major penalty, but upon review was declared only a two-minute minor. Spurned on by the egregious call the Bruins wasted no time scoring just 15 seconds into the power play. Krug would fire a shot from the point right towards Bergeron, who tipped it into the net for his 30th goal of the season tying the game at one. Florida would take another penalty just a minute later but the Bruins could not capitalize a second time. A hooking call on the Bruins in the final minutes would give Florida a chance to take the lead, but Halak stood tall and kept the scored tied at one goal apiece. The Bruins were lucky to head to the third tied after being outshot in the period 15 to 5.
The third period would see a parade of players heading to the penalty box. Each minute the teams would alternate taking a penalty, four in all just in the first five minutes. The rough start clearly killed any momentum the teams were building as the third was much the same back and forth game the first period was. Both teams created quality chances, but neither could grab the momentum and get sustained offensive pressure. Halak would make another great save in the final seconds of the period on a turnaround shot from Connolly at the right dot. The game was heading to overtime tied at one.
The extra period delivered some extremely entertaining action, as both teams would have chances to put the game away. Florida would get its best chance with Barkov on a breakaway, but Halak refused to be beat and turned his shot aside. Soon after the Bruins would bring the puck into the offensive zone. Pastrnak won a battle against two Florida defenders below the goal line and got the puck back to Krug. With plenty of open ice Krug skated right to the middle of the high slot and let go a cannon of a slap shot right into the top corner of the net, giving the Bruins a dramatic 2-1 victory.
Three Stars/Final Thoughts
The first star of the game goes to Torey Krug, who scored the winning goal and had the primary assist on Bergeron's goal as well. The second star of the game goes to Halak, who extended his winning streak as a starter to seven games and stopped 32 of 33 shots. The third and final star goes to Panthers goalie Chris Driedger, who kept his team in the game. Driedger gave Florida a chance to win, stopping 27 of 28 shots in his first NHL action in over a month. The Bruins once again played a solid defensive game, limiting a good Panthers offense to just one goal. While the win feels nice our attention is now turned to Carlo, who did not return after the elbow he took. With an important game against Tampa that could lock up the division his loss would be a large hurdle to overcome. Hopefully he was just held out for precautionary reasons and will be able to play on Saturday. With a chance to take a commanding 11 point lead in the division Saturday's game is incredibly important. Remember to keep checking back for all the latest Boston sports news and please don't forget to check out our other team pages as well.
Featured image courtesy of Stuart Cahill MediaNews Group/Boston Herald.