(Photo Credit: Steven Senne/AP Photo)

By: Andrew Bluestein | Follow Me On Twitter / X @adbblue

The Boston Bruins defeated the Vancouver Canucks 4-0 at TD Garden Thursday night in a battle between the top two teams in the league. It was all Boston in this one from start to finish, as they controlled the play all night long. They played as close to perfect as you can in the defensive end. Linus Ullmark only faced 17 shots, but he stopped all of them and earned his first shutout of the season. 

The penalty kill was shut down, going three for three and scoring two impressive shorthanded goals. It was a bounce-back win after a poor outing against the Calgary Flames on Tuesday, which head coach Jim Montgomery talked about after the game. “I just cared about how tenacious and aggressive we were gonna be mentally, going out and trying to force the issue, and I think our penalty kill led us that way.”

First Period

It was an eventful start to this one, as the Canucks had the first scoring chance. Dakota Joshua had a break that Linus Ullmark stopped, but Jakub Lauko was called for holding. However, the Bruins struck first after Brad Marchand buried a rebound home shorthanded to make it 1-0. Boston killed off the rest of the penalty without a problem. Montgomery touched on Marchand’s shorthanded ability after the win. “His instincts are one of the best I’ve seen. We have a structure in our PK, and there are certain players within the structure; they can read plays and either create offense or kill plays.”

Both teams were engaged and got into a couple of post-whistle scrums in front of Ullmark. The chippiness continued when Marchand and J.T Miller were jawing at each other in front of the benches. They both went off for roughing, and it resulted in a four-on-four situation. The Bruins controlled the play, but neither team capitalized on the extra space. Boston would have two high-danger chances from Lauko and Oskar Steen, but Thatcher Demko turned aside both.

The physicality continued to increase, highlighted by a huge hit from Jake DeBrusk on Tyler Myers hard into the boards, who was slow getting up. David Pastrnak then took a tripping penalty, and once again, the Bruins scored a shorthanded goal. This time, it was Danton Heinen beating Demko top shelf on a breakaway, making it 2-0. The Black and Gold controlled the play in the opening frame, outshooting Vancouver 11-4, with Ullmark stopping every shot.

Second Period

This was yet another eventful start, as the Bruins scored two goals in the first minute of the middle frame. First, it was Pastrnak who threw a puck to the net from up high, breaking his stick on the shot, and it pinballed in past Demko, which made it 3-0. Morgan Geekie was later credited for the goal after getting a piece of the puck while falling to the ice. Charlie Cole spoke on the importance of effort after the victory. ” It’s just that sense of urgency. First, second, third efforts, that’s what it takes, especially against a great team.”

Then, 15 seconds later, Pavel Zacha was alone down the left side, set up by a great saucer pass from James van Riemsdyk, and Zacha beat Demko for a 4-0 lead. The Bruins became shorthanded for a third time after Lauko was called for tripping, but like the clockwork, they killed it off. Boston continued to control the play, producing a few more quality chances, but came up empty.

Vancouver answered when they were able to get a couple of pucks to leak through Ullmark, but both stayed out. Their physical play remained a constant, and Parker Wotherspoon got in on the fun, stapling Nils Aman into the corner boards. The shots were even 9-9 in the second frame, and Ullmark stopped everything again.

Third Period

The third period was not as eventful of a start as the first two. It was mostly stalemate hockey for about the first six minutes, and neither team could generate any offense. Marchand broke that spell after undressing a Canucks defenseman, but his shot went wide. Boston was then awarded a power play after Nikita Zadorov was called for tripping. The Bruins had some good looks on the man advantage but weren’t able to cash in. After the midway point of the final stanza, there was more bland hockey, with both teams lacking offensively.

Boston was shut down in the defensive zone and did a superb job of protecting the front of their net. Ullmark mentioned how important the defense was when asked about it post-game. “I was very impressed. We said beforehand that it wasn’t tolerable what we did last game, and the guys took it to heart, and we came out there flying, and after that, we just kept on going.” Late in the third period, the Bruins had a power play after Steen was cross-checked up high by Zadorov. It didn’t make a difference as the clock ran out, and the Bruins got the victory, playing a complete shutdown period. It was a total clinic and arguably the most complete win of the season.

Up Next

Next, the Bruins will continue their seven-game home stand on Saturday when they take on the Washington Capitals. It will mark the first meeting of the season between the two teams. The game will be a 3:30 p.m. puck drop and nationally televised on ABC.