(Photo Credit: AP Photo/Michael Dwyer)
By Mike Cratty | Follow me on Twitter @Mike_Cratty
Home: Boston Bruins
Away: Florida Panthers
Marchand – Bergeron – Pastrnak
Heinen – Krejci – Coyle
Bjork – Lindholm – Senyshyn
Nordstrom – Kuraly – Wagner
Chara – McAvoy
Grzelcyk – Carlo
Vaakanainen – Clifton
Huberdeau – Barkov – Dadonov
Vatrano – Trocheck – Malgin
Hoffman – Boyle – Connolly
Hunt – Acciari – Sceviour
Yandle – Ekblad
Matheson – Stralman
Pysyk – Brown
Torey Krug was sidelined for this one with an upper-body injury and Urho Vaakanainen made his season debut with the Bruins in his place. Brett Ritchie and David Backes were also out with upper-body injuries. Jake DeBrusk sat for a second straight game in this one with a lower-body injury. Those injuries, on top of injury recoveries that John Moore and Kevan Miller continued to go through, forced the Bruins to roll with new second and third forward lines, as well as a new look on defense outside of the top pairing.
It was a weird start. There were just three shots on goal (2-1 Bruins) combined through the first 7:01 of the game. The first period was just a lot of back-and-forth. Some decent chances here and there, but nothing too crazy. Charlie Coyle did come very close to opening the scoring and notch his third goal of the season though.
Matt Grzelcyk saw two great chances come his way with around two minutes remaining. One was blocked by Mike Hoffman, the other was deflected out of his play. Neither team could get on the board.
Shortly after those chances, Charlie McAvoy caught Aleksander Barkov up high and went off for high sticking. Barkov was a bit shaken up on the play, and the Panthers had a power play with 13 seconds remaining in the period. A minute and 47 seconds of power play time bled into the second period for the Panthers. The final shots in the period were 7-5 Bruins.
Just 57 seconds into the period, 1:10 of total time into the power play, the lights briefly shut off at TD Garden and play was stopped as a result. The Panthers were understandably not happy as it disrupted the flow of their power play in the offensive zone.
Sean Kuraly nearly got the scoring going as he flew towards the net with the puck on his stick, crashed into Sergei Bobrovsky, and failed to score. It was a wild start to the second period, to say the least.
At the 15:38 mark, Patrice Bergeron went to the box for holding, giving the Panthers their second power play opportunity of the game. The Panthers failed to score and eventually, at the 8:05 mark, David Pastrnak finally opened the scoring.
Coming into this one, the Bruins were 9-2-1 when scoring first. That’s good for scoring first in 76.47 percent of their total games prior to tonight, and winning 75 percent of those games. Pastrnak’s 16th goal of the season was assisted by Bergeron (10).
Joakim Nordstrom decided to get amongst the scoring as well, making it 2-0. Nordstrom’s second of the season was assisted by Coyle (5). The man comes back from injury against Philadelphia on Sunday, then scores a big goal on Tuesday. Not a bad way to make an impression after a stint on injured reserve.
Things didn’t get much better for the Panthers afterward as Dryden Hunt took a holding penalty with 4:27 to go in the period. Need more secondary scoring? Just ask Anders Bjork too. Bjork’s sent a wrister on Bobrovsky that bounced off of him and in to give the Bruins a three-goal lead. Bjork’s third goal of the season was assisted by David Krejci (6) and Brad Marchand (19).
The fourth unanswered goal of the period, came from Zdeno Chara getting behind Bobrovsky and burying a loose puck. Chara’s third goal of the season was assisted by Krejci (7) and Heinen (4). Check out the whole sequence in three parts below. Four goals in seven minutes and 26 seconds.
What a wild period. The Bruins outshot the Panthers 16-7, bringing the games total shots to 23-12 Bruins. It was for sure one of the better periods that the Bruins have played all season. A huge lead was all of the sudden in their collective grasp after a scoreless first period.
Score: 4-0 Boston
Bad news came during the intermission in the form of Zach Senyshyn’s presence on the team for much of the second period. It was eventually announced that he would not return the game with a lower-body injury, putting the Bruins down a forward for the third period.
Samuel Montembeault took over in net for the Panthers to start the period and they responded early in the form of an Aaron Ekblad one-timer. Nordstrom was at the defensive blue line attempting to play defense, and that threw everything off defensively for the Bruins – the Panthers capitalized and made it 4-1.
Shortly after the goal, Vincent Trocheck launched himself towards Pastrnak. Pastrnak eventually got up following the collision under his own power, but Marchand took exception and gave Trocheck a bit of a piece of his mind. Trocheck then went off for elbowing. The Bruins didn’t convert on the power play.
Chris Wagner then went off for slashing just about four minutes into the period. Old friend Frank Vatrano made Wagner pay on the power play, because of course it was a former Bruin that scored – that happens on occasion.
The revitalized Panthers responded early and often after being on the receiving end of a thrashing in the second period. The wild final two periods surely made up for a quiet first period in terms of entertainment value.
Another penalty for the Bruins turned into another goal for the Panthers. Sean Kuraly went off with 11:28 to go for hooking. Hoffman buried a backhander to make it 4-3 Bruins. Things got tense really quickly. After an excellent start to the season, it has been tough sledding for Tuukka Rask as of late.
Former Bruin Noel Acciari tripped his old linemate Sean Kuraly with 6:28 to go, but the Bruins didn’t score on the man advantage. This game went into the Ford F-150 Final Five with a 4-3 score. David Krejci then went off the ice slowly after blocking a shot late in the period – leaving the Bruins down another forward.
It was once 4-0 Bruins, then it became 4-4. Four unanswered goals from each team. I definitely don’t remember ever seeing such an obscure feat accomplished in a hockey game. Keith Yandle tied the game with 1:39 to go. Overtime commenced. The shots were 12-9 Panthers, bringing the regulation total to 32-24 Bruins.
Marchand, Pastrnak, and Coyle had premium chances, but no dice. It was an entertaining overtime period that became very stressful at the end. Hoffman found himself alone, but Rask stoned him. Rask then made a follow-up save to send the game to a shootout in the dying seconds of overtime. The shots in ovetime were 6-5 Bruins, 38-29 overall.
Frank Vatrano: Miss
Chris Wagner: Miss
Vincent Trocheck: Goal
Brad Marchand: Miss
Jonathan Huberdeau: Miss
Charlie Coyle: Goal
Mike Hoffman: Goal
Charlie McAvoy: Miss