Joakim Nordstrom scored the eventual game-winning goal in the second period en route to the Boston Bruins’, 3-0, shutout of the Minnesota Wild at Xcel Energy Center on Thursday.
Jaroslav Halak (22-11-4 record, 2.34 goals against average, .922 save percentage in 40 games played) made 26 saves on 26 shots against for his 5th shutout of the season (37th of his career) in the win for Boston.
Meanwhile, Wild goaltender, Alex Stalock (6-7-3, 2.99 GAA, .896 SV% in 20 GP) stopped 32 out of 34 shots faced for a .941 SV% in the loss.
The Bruins improved to 49-23-9 (107 points) on the season and have already clinched 2nd place in the Atlantic Division. The Wild fell to 37-35-9 (83 points) and remain 6th in the Central Division– already eliminated from postseason contention.
Boston improved to 20-15-6 on the road this season and 28-9-5 since Jan. 1st with the win.
With two games left in the regular season entering Thursday and a First Round matchup with the Toronto Maple Leafs in the 2019 Stanley Cup Playoffs to prepare for, Bruins head coach, Bruce Cassidy rested Zdeno Chara, Brad Marchand, David Krejci and Charlie McAvoy and sat them out of the lineup.
Zach Senyshyn and Trent Frederic were recalled on emergency basis from the Providence Bruins (AHL) on Wednesday.
With Chara and McAvoy out of the lineup, Cassidy slid every defender on the depth chart up a pairing.
Torey Krug and Brandon Carlo were the first pair, Matt Grzelcyk and Kevan Miller were the second pair and Steven Kampfer suited up alongside Connor Clifton as the latter two defenders returned to the lineup after serving as healthy scratches on Tuesday in Columbus.
There were no penalties and there was no scoring in the first period as Senyshyn became the 7th Bruin to make his NHL debut this season and Cassidy kicked off his 300th game as an NHL head coach.
After one period, Minnesota held the advantage in shots on goal (9-8), blocked shots (5-4), takeaways (2-1), giveaways (3-0) and hits (7-4), while Boston led in face-off win percentage (53-47).
Both clubs had yet to see time on the skater advantage entering the first intermission.
The B’s had an injury scare 20 seconds into the 2nd period as Miller collided with Jordan Greenway and slid into the lower portion of the boards without being able to brace for impact. Miller left the game briefly to return later in the period, but did not return for the third period.
Cassidy indicated Miller has a lower body injury, but should be good to go on Saturday.
Midway through the period, Grzelcyk fired a shot that caromed off the end boards as Acciari worked the puck from the rebound to Nordstrom in front of the goal.
Nordstrom (7) fired a shot past Stalock and the Bruins led, 1-0, at 8:21 of the second period.
Acciari (8) and Grzelcyk (15) tallied the assists on the goal.
Late in the period, Luke Kunin cross checked Clifton and was assessed a minor penalty at 14:54. Boston did not convert on the ensuing power play.
Through 40 minutes of play, the Bruins led, 1-0, on the scoreboard and, 26-18, in shots on goal (including an, 18-9, advantage in the second period alone).
The Wild led in blocked shots (13-4), takeaways (7-5), giveaways (4-1) and hits (13-8) after two periods, while Boston continued to lead in face-off win% (52-48).
Minnesota had yet to see any time on the power play, but Boston was 0/1 entering the third period.
Kunin exchanged pleasantries early in the third period with Carlo and the two received matching roughing minors at 1:58.
Almost four minute later, Clifton was penalized for interference at 5:44 of the third period and the Wild went on the power play for their first time of the night.
Minnesota failed to capitalized on their only skater advantage opportunity of the game.
Midway through the final frame of regulation, Brad Hunt picked up an interference minor and the B’s went back on the power play at 11:30. Boston’s power play was unsuccessful.
Moments later, after DeBrusk brought the puck deep into the offensive zone, No. 74 in black and gold flipped the rubber biscuit through the slot on a backhand pass to Pastrnak (38) for the two-goal lead.
DeBrusk (15) and Carlo (8) notched the assists on Pastrnak’s goal at 17:15 and the Bruins led, 2-0.
With almost two minutes remaining in regulation, Bruce Boudreau pulled his goaltender for an extra attacker as the Wild tried to even things up in their final home game of the season.
Things did not go as planned.
Less than a minute after Pastrnak’s goal, Senyshyn (1) received a pass from Johansson and buried the puck on the empty net to make it an insurmountable three-goal lead at 17:51.
Johansson (17) and Kampfer (2) were credited with the assists as the Bruins led, 3-0, in Kampfer’s 200th career NHL game.
At the final horn, Boston won the game, 3-0, and finished the night leading in shots on goal (35-26) and face-off win% (54-46). Minnesota wrapped up their last home game of the 2018-19 season leading in blocked shots (15-14), giveaways (7-3) and hits (18-13).
The B’s were 0/2 on the power play and the Wild finished Thursday night 0/1 on the skater advantage.
The Bruins finish the 2018-19 regular season at home on Saturday against the Tampa Bay Lightning.
Boston will host the Maple Leafs in the First Round of the 2019 Stanley Cup Playoffs for Games 1 and 2 (5 and 7, if necessary).