Sometimes The Hockey Gods work a little poetic justice into an ultimately meaningless game.
Thursday night at TD Garden, the Boston Bruins beat Chicago, 4-3, courtesy of a game-winning goal from David Pastrnak with 17.2 seconds remaining in the third period– you know, about the same timespan it took Chicago to score a pair of goals in the third period of Game 6 of the 2013 Stanley Cup Final to clinch the series in Boston.
In the grand scheme of things, Chicago won the Cup in 2013, whereas Boston only got two points in the win column towards the regular season standings in 2022, and it doesn’t even matter that much between the clubs since the two teams play in opposite conferences.
Regardless, Jeremy Swayman (16-7-3, 2.06 goals-against average, .925 save percentage in 27 games played) made 22 saves on 25 shots against in the win for the Bruins.
Chicago goaltender, Kevin Lankinen (3-7-4, 3.60 goals-against average, .885 save percentage in 16 games played), stopped 32 out of 36 shots faced in the loss.
Boston improved to 35-18-5 (75 points) on the season and the B’s remain in command of 4th place in the Atlantic Division, as well as the first wild card spot in the Eastern Conference– trailing the Toronto Maple Leafs by four points for 3rd in the Atlantic and Tampa Bay Lightning by five points for 2nd in the Atlantic.
The Bruins are currently 10 points behind the Florida Panthers for the top spot in their division.
Meanwhile, Chicago fell to 21-30-8 overall (50 points) and stuck in 7th place in the Central Division– 10 points ahead of the Arizona Coyotes from the basement in their division.
Boston and Chicago met for the first time in the regular season since the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic began.
The Bruins won, 2-1, in overtime at United Center on Feb. 5, 2020, in Chicago in their last meeting.
The B’s are now 1-0-0 against Chicago this season and can sweep the 2021-22 regular season series on the road in Chicago on March 15th.
The Bruins were without the services of Jakub Zboril (right ACL), Urho Vaakanainen (undisclosed) and Matt Grzelcyk (upper body) on Thursday.
Vaakanainen may return to the lineup on Saturday, while Grzelcyk remains day-to-day.
B’s head coach, Bruce Cassidy, made no changes to his lines and defensive pairings from Monday night’s, 3-2, overtime loss against Los Angeles to Thursday night’s win against Chicago.
Jesper Frödén and Anton Blidh served as the only healthy scratches for the Bruins on Thursday.
Charlie McAvoy hooked Alex DeBrincat and presented Chicago with the night’s first power play 28 seconds into the first period, but Boston’s penalty killing units did their job as McAvoy was released from the box without issue at 2:28.
Less than a few minutes later, Connor Clifton pinched in from the point and entered the slot for a shot with purpose on goal that rebounded off of Lankinen to the right dot where Charlie Coyle (13) swooped in and buried the loose puck to give the Bruins a, 1-0, lead.
Clifton (3) had the only assist on Coyle’s goal at 4:12 of the first period.
Boston didn’t hold the lead for long as the year of Murphy’s Law (everything that can go wrong, will go wrong) continued to follow Brandon Carlo as the veteran blue liner pinched at the attacking blue line and was caught between the uprights on a Chicago rush the other direction– leading to a 4-on-1 with Jack Ahcan as the only defender left standing in front of Swayman.
Patrick Kane tossed a pass over to DeBrincat (34) for the one-timer goal as Chicago evened things up, 1-1, at 6:41.
Kane (46) had the only assist on the goal as Chicago answered back 2:29 after the Bruins took the first lead of the night. His assist also marked his 1,153rd career National Hockey League point– tying Kane for the second-most points in Chicago’s history and trailing only Stan Mikita’s 1,467 points in a Chicago uniform in the process.
Late in the period, Trent Frederic cut a rut to the penalty box for holding at 14:43, but Boston managed to kill off the minor infraction.
Entering the first intermission, the score was tied, 1-1, while Chicago outshot the Bruins, 10-8, despite Boston holding a clear advantage in faceoff win percentage, 58-42.
Early in the middle frame, Chicago took their first lead of the night, 2-1, after Nick Foligno chipped the puck inadvertently off of a linesman in the neutral zone– forcing a turnover to Brandon Hagel in the process.
Hagel (19) entered the attacking zone with speed and wrapped the puck around Swayman at 4:12 of the second period, while Jonathan Toews (17) and Kirby Dach (14) were credited with the assists on Hagel’s first goal of the game on just the second shot on net in the second period alone.
About a couple minutes later, Henrik Borgström hooked Pastrnak and presented the Bruins with their first power play of the night at 6:55 of the second period.
Boston’s power play was powerless, but they got another chance at the skater advantage when Jake McCabe caught Taylor Hall with a high stick at 10:02.
This time the B’s were successful in their quest for a power-play goal.
Ahcan (1) pounced on a loose puck and poked it around a Chicago skater while maintaining possession and entering the slot before wiring a shot past Lankinen for his first career NHL goal (and point in the process) in just his eight career NHL game.
Brad Marchand (34) and Pastrnak (27) tallied the assists on Ahcan’s power-play goal as the Bruins tied the game, 2-2, at 11:57 of the second period as a result.
Moments later, Connor Murphy cut a rut to the sin bin for interference at 14:31.
Boston went to work on the power play once again and made quicker work of their efficiency on the skater advantage– this time with McAvoy working the rubber biscuit down deep along the wall before sending a pass through the slot to Pastrnak (32) for a one-timer from his usual spot at the dot.
McAvoy (29) and Patrice Bergeron (27) notched the assists on Pastrnak’s power-play goal and the B’s took the lead, 3-2, at 15:23 of the second period.
Through 40 minutes of play, the Bruins led, 3-2, on the scoreboard and, 17-13, in shots on goal– including a, 9-3, advantage in the second period alone. Boston also maintained the advantage in faceoff win%, 51-49.
Chicago was 0/2 and Boston was 2/3 on the power play heading into the final frame.
Coyle hooked Dylan Strome to kick things off at 1:25 of the third period by handing a power play to Chicago with relatively fresh ice from the second intermission still intact.
Chicago rushed up the ice as Kane worked the puck to Strome, who passed it to the other wing where DeBrincat fired a shot at Swayman that dropped to the ice in front of the crease.
Swayman bungled the puck while trying to cover it with his glove and instead sent a rebound to Hagel as Hagel (20) crashed the net and pocketed the puck on a chip shot power-play goal at 3:24 of the third period.
DeBrincat (21) and Strome (16) had the assists on Hagel’s second goal of the game– tying things up, 3-3, with plenty of time left in regulation.
Moments later, the Bruins recorded their first shot on goal in the third period right about at the 7:47 mark.
Alec Regula tripped up Hall at 11:56 of the third period, but wasn’t the only skater heading to the box as Hall was assessed a minor infraction for embellishment– yielding 4-on-4 action for a pair of minutes past the midpoint of the final frame.
Neither team could score despite Boston generating momentum as the period continued.
Chicago iced the puck in the dying minute of the third period.
Ryan Carpenter won the ensuing faceoff in his own defensive zone and kicked the puck to the corner where Hall stepped in between his opponent and the puck– thereby winning the resulting battle along the boards and working a solid bounce to Pastrnak in the slot.
Pastrnak (33) chipped it past Lankinen to put the Bruins ahead, 4-3, at 19:42 of the third period. Hall (30) had the only assist on what would be the game-winning goal with 17.2 seconds remaining in the action.
Chicago’s interim head coach, Derek King, used his timeout to draw up a last-ditch effort, but despite pulling the goalie with 17.2 seconds left there would be no repeat of a miracle in Boston for Chicago.
At the final horn, the Bruins had won, 4-3, and finished the night leading in shots on goal, 36-25, including a, 19-12, advantage in the third period alone.
Boston also held an advantage in faceoff win%, 52-48, while Chicago led in every other category including blocked shots (12-11), giveaways (6-5) and hits (28-26).
Chicago finished the night 1/3 on the power play, while the Bruins left their own ice 2/3 on the skater advantage Thursday.
With the win, the B’s improved to 8-1-1 in their last ten games while Swayman picked up his eighth win in his last nine games.
Boston also improved to 25-7-2 (11-4-1 at home) when scoring first, 9-5-2 (4-3-1 at home) when tied after the first period and 24-1-3 (9-1-1 at home) when leading after two periods this season.
Chicago fell to 4-24-5 (2-12-2 on the road) when allowing the game’s first goal, 10-13-3 (4-3-1 on the road) when tied after one and 2-25-3 (0-12-1 on the road) when trailing through the second period in 2021-22.
The Arizona Coyotes visit TD Garden on Saturday before the Bruins hit the road for a four-game road trip through Chicago next Tuesday (March 15th), Minnesota next Wednesday (March 16th), Winnipeg next Friday (March 18th) and Montréal on March 21st.
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