(Photo Credit: Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports)
By Mike Cratty | Follow me on Twitter @Mike_Cratty
Home: Boston Bruins
Away: Carolina Hurricanes
Marchand – Krejci – Pastrnak
DeBrusk – Coyle – Heinen
Bjork – Kuraly – Backes
Nordstrom – Lindholm – Wagner
Chara – McAvoy
Krug – Carlo
Grzelcyk – Clifton
Svechnikov – Staal – Foegele
Niederreiter – Aho – Teravainen
Dzingel – Wallmark – Martinook
McGinn – Bishop
Slavin – Hamilton
Edmundson – Pesce
Gardiner – van Riemsdyk
The Bruins stayed at home for a third straight game with hopes to win their eighth straight game. The Hurricanes came to TD Garden winners of seven of their last ten games. This one marked number 500 in the career of Jaroslav Halak, and what a goaltending battle it was.
The Bruins played with good pace early on, outshooting Carolina 6-0 through the first 2:51 of the game. Also within those first three minutes came the first penalty of the game, as Jake Gardiner went off for two minutes for tripping. Despite playing well to start the game, the Bruins couldn’t sneak one past James Reimer on the power play.
After a fast-paced 2:51 of the game, the Bruins didn’t record a shot for 8:16 after that. Jordan Martinook took the second Canes penalty of the game in the form of a holding penalty with 9:14 to go. No dice.
Just over four minutes later, Jake DeBrusk went off for tripping. No dice for the Hurricanes either. Even in a good back-and-forth first period, both teams had trouble finding the back of the net. David Pastrnak took a rare penalty as it became apparent he was sick of Warren Foegele, so he yanked him to the ice by his collar. He sat for two minutes for roughing as a result with 1:26 to go.
Both teams went into intermission unscathed, but the Hurricanes had 34 seconds of their power play remaining to start the second period. The final shots for the period were 10-9 in favor of the Hurricanes. It was anyone’s game from here on out.
Pastrnak’s penalty was killed and the stalemate continued into the second period. This was in large part due to Halak was locked in early on and making saves like this. He wasn’t messing around for game number 500.
Reimer was solid as well on the other side of things. Some of his best work in the second period came when he made a big stop part on a great chance from Brad Marchand just around the 11-minute mark, as well a series of chances not too long after that. The new second and fourth lines were responsible for these chances. Reimer and the team defense of the Hurricanes kept the Bruins off the board.
The opportunities were there, but it was just a matter of puck luck to start the scoring. It appeared that Jaccob Slavin had broken the scoring, but the shot went through the side of the net.
That’s not something you see every day. The first two periods were truly a grind and the stalemate lived on. The Bruins held a 13-8 advantage in the shot department this time, bringing the total to 22-18 in their favor. Again, it was still anyone’s game.
Nothing too crazy in terms of scoring chances throughout the first half of the period, outside of a near David Krejci goal as he approached Reimer with speed. There haven’t been many games like this for the Bruins this season, it had a much different feel to it, in my eyes.
A few scrums came and went, good chances, not a whole lot of physicality, it was a weird one. David Backes nearly had his second goal in as many games, as well of the season as a whole.
That all changed as Marchand fielded the puck off the boards from Danton Heinen to his left and sent it to Charlie Coyle who buried it out front. Coyle’s sixth goal of the season was assisted by Marchand (26) and Heinen (8) with 4:05 to go. It was quite the sequence from all involved.
Heinen made it all happen from the start, forcing a turnover from Jake Gardiner at the Bruins’ defensive blue line, and then capping off the sequence with a secondary assist. An effort like that can go a long way in close games like this one.
David Krejci followed it up with a sixth goal of the season of his own a minute and eight seconds later, deflecting a Charlie McAvoy shot past Reimer. McAvoy’s assisted was his eighth of the season and Pastrnak’s secondary assist was his 18th. That was one way to add to the obscurity of this game. It was 2-0 Bruins with 2:57 to go.
The 500th game of Halak’s career was the 49th shutout of his career and his seventh as a Bruin. What a night for him. Krejci’s goal was the 200th of his career as he built on what has been an excellent season for him.
Shots were 12-6 in favor of the Bruins in the final frame, 34-24 overall. Grit and persistence got it done in the end. Next up are the Chicago Blackhawks at TD Garden on Thursday at 7:00 PM ET. The Bruins are 20-3-5, winners of their last eight games, and the first time in the NHL to reach the 20-win mark.