The Boston Bruins beat the Dallas Stars, 4-3, Thursday night at TD Garden in a game that had a little bit of everything.
Jaroslav Halak (17-6-6 record, 2.44 goals against average, .917 save percentage in 30 games played) turned aside 31 out of 34 shots faced for a .912 SV% in the win for the Bruins.
Stars goaltender, Ben Bishop (21-14-4, 2.49 GAA, .921 SV% in 42 games played), made 24 saves on 28 shots against for an .857 SV% in the loss.
Boston improved to 40-13-12 (92 points) on the season and remain in command of 1st place in the entire league, while Dallas fell to 37-21-6 (80 points) on the season, but remained in 3rd place in the Central Division.
The B’s also improved to 22-3-9 at home this season.
The Bruins were without the services of Kevan Miller (knee) and Connor Clifton (upper body) on Thursday.
New acquisition, Ondrej Kase, made his Boston debut on the second line with David Krejci at center and Nick Ritchie at left wing.
As a result, Bruce Cassidy moved Jake DeBrusk down to the third line left wing with Charlie Coyle and Anders Bjork– just like how he swapped DeBrusk and Ritchie during Tuesday night’s, 5-2, loss to the Calgary Flames.
Cassidy made no other changes to the lineup, while Joakim Nordstrom, John Moore, Anton Blidh and Karson Kuhlman served as Boston’s healthy scratches against Dallas.
Midway through the opening frame, Tyler Seguin tripped up Chris Wagner and was assessed a minor in fraction at 13:07 of the first period.
Boston did not score on the ensuing power play– their first skater advantage of the night.
Moments later, Matt Grzelcyk hooked Radek Faksa and was sent to the penalty box at 17:04.
Dallas converted on the resulting power play when John Klingberg snapped a shot from the point that looked was tipped in by Jamie Benn (19) for his 300th career goal.
Klingberg (25) and Joe Pavelski (16) had the assists on Benn’s goal, which made it, 1-0, for Dallas at 17:38.
Benn became the fourth player in Dallas/Minnesota North Stars franchise history to amass at least 300 career regular season goals, joining Mike Modano (557 career goals), Brian Bellows (342) and Dino Ciccarelli (332).
It marked the 18th time this season that Boston gave up the game’s first goal on home ice and the fifth straight game that Boston’s opponent scored first– regardless of the building.
Less than a minute later, Andrew Cogliano was punished for slashing Coyle and sent to the sin bin at 18:18.
While on the ensuing power play, Torey Krug sent a shot on goal from the point that rebounded off of Bishop and into Coyle’s strikezone whereby Coyle (16) batted the puck out of the air and into the twine for the home run power play goal.
Krug (35) and Brad Marchand (55) tallied the assists and the B’s tied the game, 1-1, at 19:44 of the first period.
Entering the first intermission, the score was even at, 1-1, while the Bruins led the Stars in shots on goal, 10-9.
Boston also held the advantage in faceoff win percentage (53-47), while Dallas led in blocked shots (5-3), takeaways (3-1) and hits (9-8).
Both teams had three giveaways each.
The Stars were 1/1 on the power play and the Bruins were 1/2 on the skater advantage heading into the middle period.
Things came to a crescendo when Krejci and Pavelski dropped the gloves and exchanged fisticuffs at 11:24 of the second period.
The two players each received five-minute majors for fighting and play continued without any other major disruptions.
A few minutes later, Charlie McAvoy tossed a pass from about the goal line to Marchand (26) in the slot for a point blank one-timer.
McAvoy (24) and David Pastrnak (44) had the assists on Marchand’s goal and the Bruins led for the first time of the night, 2-1, at 14:44.
Less than a couple minutes later, Boston went up by two-goals as Ritchie (9) scored his first goal as a Bruin after snapping a shot from the high slot through net front traffic, off of Seguin and past Bishop.
Ritchie’s goal was unassisted and made it, 3-1, for the Bruins at 16:01 of the second period.
Late in the period, Wagner tackled Mattias Janmark after a whistle in defense of a teammate, but received a roughing minor for his retaliatory actions at 18:49.
Dallas didn’t score on the ensuing power play.
Through 40 minutes of action, Boston was in command of the scoreboard, 3-1, and in shots on goal, 22-19.
The Bruins also led in blocked shots (8-7), takeaways (4-3), giveaways (11-9) and faceoff win% (54-46), while the Stars held the advantage in hits (19-16).
Both teams were 1/2 on the power play heading into the third period.
Wagner wasn’t available to start the third period for the Bruins and later deemed “unlikely to return” to the game with an “upper body injury” by Boston’s media team.
Meanwhile, Dallas cut Boston’s lead in half, 3-2, after Esa Lindell fired a shot that deflected off of Denis Gurianov’s (19) stick, then off of Krug’s leg and past Halak at 1:18 of the third period.
Lindell (20) and Jason Dickinson (12) had the assists on Gurianov’s goal.
Boston responded with a goal of their own when Pastrnak broke into the attacking zone on a rush with Ritchie, sent Ritchie a pass, then received a shot that Pastrnak (46) intentionally redirected into the open twine.
Ritchie (12) and Jeremy Lauzon (1) notched the assists on Pastrnak’s goal and the B’s led, 4-2, at 3:53.
Stars head coach, Rick Bowness, pulled Bishop for an extra attacker with less than three minutes remaining in the game.
After Marchand missed the open net from just inside the blue line, Dallas charged down the length of the ice and sustained pressure in the attacking zone, while Boston was forced to defend.
Miro Heiskanen (8) ripped a shot that rebounded off of Halak, but clipped Bruins captain, Zdeno Chara’s, skate at just the right angle to bounce off of the Bruin and slip between the post and the Boston goaltender to make it a one-goal game.
Benn (18) and Seguin (33) tallied the assists on Heiskanen’s goal, but the Bruins still led, 4-3, at 17:36 of the third period.
Dallas pulled their goaltender once more with 1:58 remaining in regulation, but despite their best efforts, Boston’s defense wasn’t about to make the same mistake twice and held on to the, 4-3, victory at the final horn.
The Bruins won, 4-3, but finished the night trailing in shots on goal to the Stars, 34-28.
Dallas also wrapped up Thursday night with the advantage in hits (28-25) and faceoff win% (51-49), while Boston finished the game leading in blocked shots (14-9).
Both clubs had 11 giveaways and were 1/2 on the power play on Thursday.
The Bruins are now 12-2-6 when tied after one period and 25-1-6 when leading after two periods this season.
The Stars are 9-8-4 when tied after one period and 9-16-1 when trailing after two periods this season.
Boston wrapped up their two-game homestand (1-1-0) on Thursday and finishes the month of February on the road against the New York Islanders on Saturday afternoon.