NHL: Los Angeles Kings at Boston Bruins

PHOTO CREDITS: ( Brian Fluharty/USA TODAY Sports Images)

By: Max Mainville | Check me out on Twitter @tkdmaxbjj 

Pre-Game Notes

Arena: Staples Center – Los Angeles, California, USA

Home: Los Angeles Kings (23-28-6)

Away: Boston Bruins (33-17-8)

The Bruins enter tonight’s game following a 3-0 shutout victory over the Anaheim Ducks last night. Jaroslav Halak made thirty saves while Sean Kuraly finished the night with two assists. The Bruins sit in the third Atlantic Division spot with a chance to pass the Maple Leafs for the second position.

The Kings had a three-game winning streak before losing to Boston last Saturday, but have since lost three in a row including a 4-3 shootout loss to the Vancouver Canucks in their last outing. Kings are near the bottom of the league and they have struggled to produce any offence, scoring the second-least amount of goals per game this year.

Bruins Gameday Lineup:

Matt Grzelcyk is back in the lineup after a lower-body injury and forward Karson Kuhlman makes his NHL debut. John Moore and David Backes are scratched.

First Period

Immediately within the first minute, Noel Acciari continued some of the momentum he created when he scored last night with a massive hit early on while he rushed the puck into the Kings zone. Not too long after that though, Matt Grzelcyk is called on a high-sticking minor and the Bruins penalty-kill has to go to work early. Bruins did a solid job killing off the penalty and the game returns to 5-on-5.

Just over five-in-a-half minutes into the game, the Kings make a poor pass in the neutral zone and then attempt a mistimed line change, allowed Peter Cehlarik to make a cross-zone pass to Jake DeBrusk who buried the goal past Jack Campbell. Great re-entry by the Bruins to capitalize on the Los Angeles mistake and it is 1-0 Boston early on in the first. The goal is DeBrusk’s 17th on the season and his third straight game with a goal. Assists go to Cehlarik (2) and Krejci (34).

The fourth line of the Bruins is one of the better lines on the roster right now and they continue to prove that with multiple great chances on Campbell. Nearly thirty seconds of zone control for the Acciari-Kuraly-Wagner line and numerous shots. The hard work of these guys never seems to slow down.

The aggressiveness by the Bruins on all four lines have been great just past the halfway point of the opening period. Boston has been putting pressure on the Kings defence, forcing them to make poor passes on the breakout and limiting their changes. In this, the B’s draw a penalty on the Kings – an interference call on Matt Roy behind Jack Campbell and Boston is off to the power-play.

Right at the start of the man-advantage, Jack Campbell makes a bad play of miscommunication behind his own net, leaving Marchand the ability to make a great feed to Bergeron but Campbell was able to get back in the net and make a pad save. The tenacity on the puck has been creating some chances for Boston both at even-strength and on the power-play. Boston nearly got caught though, as a 2-on-1 shorthanded for the Kings raced towards Rask who made the big save on Iafallo with some help from Krug. Penalty expires.

The final five minutes had some more pressure by the Kings, trying to tie the game before the first intermission, but the B’s had some more opportunities themselves, including a good one by David Krejci that was stopped by Campbell. Period ends and another solid period by the Black N’ Gold.

Shots On Goal: BOS: 8 LAK: 8

Score: 1-0 Bruins – Goals: DeBrusk (17) 5:31 Assists: Cehlarik (2), Krejci (34)

Second Period

Some fast-paced action on either end at the start of the middle period, with Boston getting the bulk of the offensive chances. Danton Heinen showcased some great stickhandling and passing on zone entries and zone control as well as the other Bruins. Brad Marchand, while entering the zone, drew a hooking minor and Boston is to the power-play for the second time.

For some reason, Boston seems to allow shorthanded opportunities for the opposing team. A 2-on-1 chance for the Kings on the last PP and now a breakaway chance for Anze Kopitar that is shut down by Rask. Massive save by Tuukka, but the save should have never needed to been made. Kings had more shorthanded chances on this power-play than Boston, a terrible effort for the B’s – back to 5-on-5.

Los Angeles is finding their offensive rhythm against Boston in this second period. Boston is struggling to find their legs and seemingly, their passing sticks to make the good plays out of the zone while LA is able to shoot on Rask and make solid zone plays. On one of the Kings entries, Charlie McAvoy gets caught hooking Austin Wagner and Boston goes to the PK once again.

Kevan Miller slacks off ever so slightly on Ilya Kovalchuk and the Russian sniper rips one past Rask on the power-play and the Kings tie the game 10:37 into the second frame. The goal is Kovalchuk’s twelfth of the season assisted by Anze Kopitar (26) and Drew Doughty (27).

With just around seven minutes to go, Kopitar does a good job selling a Zdeno Chara hold and right away, Boston is shorthanded nearly immediately after getting scored on while the Kings had the extra man. Like the Kings did, the Bruins get a tremendous opportunity shorthanded when Chris Wagner escapes on a breakaway but Campbell shuts the door but a solid effort nonetheless by the always-hard-working fourth liner. The penalty is killed off.

Just around five minutes to go, the Kings find themselves on a 2-on-1 rush and Tuukka Rask makes an absolutely terrific, highlight-reel save on Alex Iafallo’s shot. The diving effort with the pads was fun to watch, but the Bruins cannot afford to let those chances pile up because eventually, Los Angeles will begin to bury these.

Late in the period on an offensive zone faceoff, Patrice Bergeron ties up the faceoff where Brad Marchand rips a wrist shot right off the win, beating Campbell who was screened by two of his own players. Beautiful by Marchand who now has twenty-three goals on the season. The only helper on the play goes to Bergeron who is credited with his thirty-fourth assist in 2018-19.

But, the Bruins cannot survive the remainder of a poor period overall without taking another penalty. Noel Acciari to the box for high-sticking and the power-play that has already scored once tonight is back to work late in the second. The umbrella formation of the Kings man-advantage has worked great for them at working the puck around the zone but each time, Rask is there making a save. The second period ends there.

Shots On Goal: BOS: 17 LAK: 19

Score: 2-1 Bruins – Goals: Kovalchuk (12) PPG 10:37 Assists: Kopitar (26), Doughty (27); Marchand (23) 16:15 Assist: Bergeron (34)

Third Period

The third period, for the most part, failed to have many entertaining scoring chances. Both teams traded a few rushes down the ice as they tried to beat the opposing goaltender.

Multiple icings and faceoffs on either end of the ice for the Kings and Bruins but neither team can put many shots on the net, and like I said, when it does hit the net, it is stopped by Campbell or Rask. Tuukka Rask has made some solid saves in this entire game and this period even more so.

With just around five minutes to trail in the final regulation period, the Kings manage to cycle the puck around the zone and the Bruins defencemen lose their men, allowing Alex Iafallo to score the tying goal at the 15:37 mark of the third period. Kevan Miller and Matt Grzelcyk lost their men and the fourth line was the forward group out. Iafallo’s rebound goal is his 12th of the year, assisted by LaDue (1) and Adrian Kempe (12).

Not even thirty seconds after the tying goal by Los Angeles, Brad Marchand gets his stick caught up in Jeff Carter and the whistle is blown, Bruins to the penalty-kill – a big chance for the Kings to bounce right back and take the lead late in this hockey game. However, the Bruins make several clears, most of which successful and the B’s kill off the full two minutes.

After the unsuccessful man-advantage for L.A., the Kings had a very poor shift allowing Charlie McAvoy to join in on the rush and deflect a Jake DeBrusk pass past Campbell to give Boston the lead with just over one minute left to go. It seemed like Campbell and the Kings defence thought the pass was headed to Heinen across the crease, but McAvoy got it first. McAvoy’s third of the year assisted by DeBrusk (8) and Krejci (35).

Unlike previously, the Bruins did not let up with the one goal late as Patrice Bergeron was relentless on the forecheck, poking the puck one-handed past Jack Campbell with thirty-six seconds left to go to give Boston the extra insurance marker to make this a 4-2 hockey game. Bergeron’s 21st was unassisted.

Shots On Goal: BOS: 24 LAK: 25

Final Score: 4-2 Bruins

Max’s Three Stars

1st Star: BOS F Jake DeBrusk – 1 Goal, 1 Assist +2 Rating, 2 Shots

2nd Star: BOS F David Krejci – 2 Assists, +2 Rating, 4 Shots

3rd Star: BOS G Tuukka Rask – 23 Saves on 25 Shots

The Bruins win their fifth straight game and leapfrog over the Toronto Maple Leafs, taking over second in the Atlantic Division. Next up: Boston takes on the San Jose Sharks on Monday. Puck drop scheduled for 10pm EST.

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