(Photo Credit: AP Photo/Richard W. Rodriguez)
By Mike Cratty | Follow me on Twitter @Mike_Cratty
Home: Dallas Stars
Away: Boston Bruins
Marchand – Bergeron – Pastrnak
DeBrusk – Coyle – Ritchie
Heinen – Lindholm – Kuhlman
Wagner – Kuraly – Backes
Chara – McAvoy
Krug – Carlo
Grzelcyk – Clifton
Benn – Seguin – Pavelski
Dickinson – Hintz – Radulov
Cogliano – Faksa – Comeau
Janmark – Dowling – Gurianov
Lindell – Klingberg
Heiskanen – Sekera
Oleksiak – Polak
The Bruins are back, and that’s pretty cool. The first stop on the road slate of the season was Dallas where the Bruins took on the Stars to start both team’s respective seasons. David Krejci was a last-minute scratch due to injury, leading to Brett Ritchie’s debut in response. For the Bruins, not a whole lot changed in the offseason outside of replacing Marcus Johansson and Noel Acciari with Par Lindholm and Brett Ritchie, essentially.
The Stars, on the other hand, landed Joe Pavelski and Corey Perry in free agency. Anyone that was watching knew that the Stars were going to come out of the gate with intensity against the defending Eastern Conference Champion Bruins.
What’s the weirdest way this season could have started? Former Dallas Star Brett Ritchie scoring on his first shot as a Bruin just 1:09 into the game. Yeah, that happened. Charlie Coyle had the lone assist.
Alexander Radulov went to the box 4:23 into the period for holding. Danton Heinen made him pay late in the man advantage to give the Bruins a two-goal lead 14:01 to go. Two goals on two shots. Matt Grzelcyk and Charlie McAvoy had the helpers.
The rest of the period was much quieter than the first five minutes. But, the Bruins managed to control the flow of play for much of the remainder of the period, despite not scoring more goals than the two they scored early on. Radek Faksa went off for high sticking with 2:27 go in the period, giving the Bruins an opportunity for the Bruins to go up by three.
Although they failed to convert on the power play, Dallas didn’t get on the board, so the missed opportunity was a bit more palpable. Not a bad way to start the season, especially the first period. The shots were 6-4 in favor of the Bruins.
Score: 2-0 Boston
It was a pretty standard, back-and-forth period to start until Roman Polak went into the boards awkwardly and made some pretty painful-looking shoulder contact with the boards. He was down for quite a while in some serious pain before being helped off the ice on a stretcher by team personnel.
Shortly after the injury, Roope Hintz buried the first Dallas goal of the season to cut the Bruins’ lead in half with 12:05 to go. Radulov then went off the ice for the second time for tripping Par Lindholm just past the halfway point. It wasn’t a very eventful power-play opportunity, so normalcy ensued. Dallas certainly had a bit more energy after losing Polak to injury.
A fourth Boston power play came after McAvoy was interfered with by Mattias Janmark. McAvoy then went off for a penalty of his own, making it a 4-on-4, temporarily. Luckily, for the Bruins, Dallas didn’t score on the power play following the conclusion of Janmark’s penalty. The shots were 9-7 in favor of Dallas this time around, as they began to turn the tide a bit.
Score: 2-1 Boston
Some momentum was generated in the Bruins favor early thanks to some offensive chances from the Bergeron line. That was until Zdeno Chara went to the box for interference within the first minute. Rask made a couple solid saves within the final 30 seconds of the power play to preserve the one-goal lead.
Despite not scoring on the power play, Dallas kept the offensive zone pressure up and kept Tuukka Rask busy. That pressure kept up for quite some time, pretty consistently through the first ten or so minutes of the period. One of the highlights on the Bruins side of this onslaught in favor of Dallas was when Rask flashed the leather on a shot from Hintz that was labeled for the top corner.
Speaking of Hintz, Chris Wagner buried him at the eventual conclusion of the next shift. Through the first eight minutes of the third period, the shots were 11-7 Dallas, and they weren’t giving the Bruins much.
For the most part, outside of a Karson Kuhlman breakaway chance, credit to Dallas for not allowing a whole lot of fluidity through the neutral zone and into the defensive zone for the Bruins. If you scroll past the tweet below, you’ll see both of Kuhlman’s big-time scoring chances from the game.
Huge blocks from Brad Marchand, Chris Wagner, and a strong defensive stand preserved the win for the Bruins after Jim Montgomery pulled Ben Bishop late. The shots were 16-7 Dallas in the third, meaning Rask is very much worthy of praise for being instrumental in holding the one-goal lead for so long.
The Bruins start of the season in the win column. An 82-0 season is still possible, folks. Next up are the Arizona Coyotes on the road this Saturday at 9 PM. There is plenty to work on despite a hot start from now until Saturday night.