B’s win in worst way
Shaky but enough to stop Stars
Points in the standings are all that matter at this time of year. The Bruins are fortunate that style points do not.
In as ugly a game as you’ll see, the B’s overcame a bevy of their own mistakes to scratch out a 2-0 win over the Dallas Stars at the Garden last night.
The Bruins took that score into the third period on goals from Brad Marchand and Torey Krug but things got uncomfortable when Kevan Miller accidentally, but quite brutally, high-sticked Curtis McKenzie, drawing a double minor with McKenzie bleeding profusely.
But the B’s killed off the four minutes and grinded out the win, with Tuukka Rask making 27 saves for the shutout. Rask wasn’t exactly under siege, but he faced down some Grade A scoring chances from a Stars team that has quite a bit of offensive talent despite its collective failure this season.
“I think we would probably all say it wasn’t our best game tonight,” said defenseman Adam McQuaid. “It was sloppy at times, and we had some turnovers that they turned into good scoring opportunities. Tuukka was awesome for us and a big reason why we were able to get a win tonight.”
As far as the playoff push went, the only help the B’s got was on the margins. The Islanders did lose in Philadelphia to fall six points back of the second wild card and the B’s drew within three points of Ottawa for second place in the Atlantic Division after the Senators lost to Minnesota. But Toronto came up with a big win in Nashville to remain a point ahead of the B’s and Tampa Bay beat Detroit to stay three points back with both teams having a game in hand.
With regard to last night, the B’s had their legs and hearts but not their hands. A pessimist could look at the game and bemoan the quality of play, an optimistic would be pleased that they somehow muddled through. Interim coach Bruce Cassidy leaned mostly to the latter. He didn’t like the team’s puck management, but the two points mitigated the angst.
“I’ll give them credit. They got frustrated, but they stuck with it enough that we weren’t throwing pucks into the middle of the ice blind,” Cassidy said. “At least we kept it to the outside and kind of scrummed it out of the zone, or at least when we lost possession we worked back to protect the house. Listen, they can’t all be pretty, especially this time of year. We’ve wanted our team to be better defensively. When you get a shutout, you’ve clearly done some good things.”
In the kind estimation of the official scorers, the B’s were charged with only eight giveaways. The Stars were tagged with 18, one leading to the B’s first goal.
With Stephen Johns fumbling with the puck near the Dallas blue line, David Backes poked it back into the offensive zone and went on the attack. Backes ripped a shot on Antti Niemi and the rebound came right back to him. He backhanded it across the crease to Marchand for the goal at 15:14, his career-high 38th.
It didn’t take long for the B’s to create some breathing space for themselves in the second period. Just 52 seconds into the period, Jason Spezza hooked Miller and the B’s went on their second power play. They wasted little time in capitalizing. From the outside of the right circle, David Pastrnak sent a perfect back door pass to Krug for an easy tap-in at 1:18 for the defenseman’s eighth of the year.
That, plus another first star performance from Rask and a clutch penalty kill in the third, was enough for the B’s to reach their bottom line objective.
The Bruins have won three in a row with another must-win situation tomorrow against Florida, which was eliminated from playoff contention last night. It seems some of the hardest wins are the ones that should be automatic.
“When you’re playing a team that’s out of the playoffs, you’ve got to make sure you’re coming because they have a lot of young guys who are trying to impress people and make plays,” Krug said. “It was good to get this win and we’ve got to keep it rolling (tomorrow).”