Matt Grzelcyk ended a 21-game goal-scoring drought with his game-winning goal in overtime as the Boston Bruins beat Chicago, 2-1, Tuesday night at United Center.
Linus Ullmark (18-9-2, 2.75 goals-against average, .908 save percentage in 30 games played) made 19 saves on 20 shots against in the win for the Bruins.
Chicago netminder, Marc-Andre Fleury (19-20-5, 2.85 goals-against average, .909 save percentage in 44 games played), turned aside 46 out of 48 shots faced in the overtime loss.
Boston improved to 37-18-5 (79 points) on the season and remain in command of 4th place in the Atlantic Division, as well as the first wild card spot in the Eastern Conference.
The Bruins are also two points behind the Toronto Maple Leafs for the 3rd in the Atlantic.
Chicago fell to 22-30-9 overall (53 points) and stuck in 7th place in the Central Division as a result of the overtime loss.
With the win on Tuesday, Boston swept Chicago 2-0-0 in their 2021-22 regular season series after last meeting in 2019-20, when the Bruins went 1-0-1 against Chicago.
The B’s were without Jakub Zboril (right ACL) and Urho Vaakanainen (undisclosed) on Tuesday, while head coach, Bruce Cassidy, made no changes to his lineup from Saturday night’s, 3-2, victory against the Arizona Coyotes to Tuesday night’s action in Chicago.
Nick Foligno suited up for his 1,000th career National Hockey League game– becoming the 364th player in league history to do so and the second father-son duo, as well, since Mike Foligno’s NHL career spanned 1,018 games.
Foligno’s younger brother, Marcus, has played in 658 games entering Tuesday split between the Buffalo Sabres and Minnesota Wild.
Nick, meanwhile, has played in 351 games with the Ottawa Senators, 599 games with the Columbus Blue Jackets, seven games with the Toronto Maple Leafs and 43 games with the Bruins so far.
Boston announced that they’d honor Foligno for his 1,000th career NHL game on April 2nd prior to their matchup against the Blue Jackets at TD Garden.
Meanwhile, Tuesday night in Chicago, Jack Ahcan and Anton Blidh served as healthy scratches for the Bruins.
Before scoring the game-winning goal Tuesday night, Grzelcyk was penalized for interference at 5:02 of the first period and presented Chicago with the first power play opportunity of the game.
Chicago did not convert on the ensuing skater advantage, however, and followed up with a penalty of their own when Dylan Strome tripped Brad Marchand– giving Boston their first chance on the power play at 10:26.
Entering the first intermission, however, the score remained tied, 0-0, despite the Bruins outshooting Chicago, 14-4.
Chicago held the advantage in blocked shots (3-1) and giveaways (4-2), while the B’s led in takeaways (4-3), hits (15-11) and faceoff win percentage (59-41).
Both teams were 0/1 on the power play heading into the middle frame.
Patrick Kane caught Charlie McAvoy with a high stick and gave Boston another chance on the skater advantage at 3:05 of the second period, but once again the Bruins’ power play was powerless.
Late in the period, Sam Lafferty cut a rut to the sin bin for interference at 16:22, but Boston followed their power play with a penalty kill of their own when Mike Reilly tripped Brandon Hagel at 19:15.
Chicago failed to capitalize on their skater advantage, which extended into the final frame of regulation as the horn signaled the end of the second period and the commencement of the second intermission.
The score was still, 0-0, despite the Bruins outshooting Chicago, 35-11, including, 21-7, in the second period alone.
Boston held the advantage in takeaways (7-6), giveaways (6-4), hits (22-20) and faceoff win% (56-44), while Chicago led in blocked shots (10-7).
Chicago was 0/2 on the power play, while the B’s were 0/3 on the skater advantage through 40 minutes of action.
Calvin de Haan tripped Curtis Lazar and presented Boston with their fourth power play opportunity of the game at 2:34 of the third period, but the Bruins couldn’t muster a shot past Fleury while on the advantage.
Instead, however, the B’s caught Chicago in the vulnerable minute after special teams play, as Marchand picked a rebound out of the air after Fleury swatted the puck away from the crease– that’s when Patrice Bergeron (17) ultimately came in and cleaned up the home run– batting the puck into the twine from mid-air after Marchand kept it free.
Marchand (35) and Taylor Hall (31) notched the assists as the Bruins took a, 1-0, lead at 4:43 of the third period.
Hall briefly received some glue on the bench after catching a close shave by a skate in the scramble in front of the net in the lead-up to Bergeron’s goal.
Moments later, despite scoring first, Boston couldn’t hold onto the momentum as Chicago led a charge into their attacking zone and worked the puck around until Caleb Jones sent a shot from the point to the slot where Hagel (21) tipped the rubber biscuit past Ullmark.
Jones (8) and Jake McCabe (12) tallied the assists as Chicago tied the game, 1-1, at 9:36 of the third period.
Late in the period, the Bruins thought they scored a beautiful goal as Charlie Coyle followed a rebound with a spin-o-rama shot past Fleury’s glove side while crashing the net, but the would-be go-ahead goal was immediately waved off for incidental goaltender intererence.
The only problem was that– despite Craig Smith’s net front presence– there was no overt goaltender interference to be seen within reason to believe that there had, in fact, been an infraction prior to the goal.
Thus, Cassidy used a coach’s challenge on the basis that there was not enough evidence to support the call on the ice and it should therefore be overturned as Chicago’s own defender, Riley Stillman, had knocked over his own goaltender and Smith battled someone in front of the crease– barely getting his skate into the blue paint on the opposite side from where Fleury was standing.
No, apparently that meant nothing in the long run– or rather, perhaps that’s why the on-ice officials made the call in the first place because it was reminiscent of the controversial conclusion to the 1999 Stanley Cup Final.
Ask any Buffalo Sabres fan if Brett Hull’s foot was in the crease and then ask any Dallas Stars fan if Hull’s foot even mattered, I’ll wait.
Meanwhile in Chicago, Cassidy’s challenge was no good and the call on the ice stood as “no goal”.
As a result, Boston was assessed a bench minor for delay of game at 15:13 of the third period with Smith sent across the sheet of ice to the box to serve the penalty.
The Bruins managed to make the kill and in the closing minutes of regulation had a couple quality chances turned aside by Fleury– necessitating overtime (at the very least) to determine a winner.
After 60 minutes of action, the two teams were tied, 1-1, despite the B’s outshooting Chicago, 46-20, overall– including an, 11-9, advantage in the third period alone.
Boston held the advantage in giveaways (8-7) and faceoff win% (52-48), while Chicago led in blocked shots (18-14) and hits (29-28).
Both teams had nine takeaways each.
As there were no penalties called in overtime, Chicago finished the night 0/3 on the power play, while Boston went 0/4.
In overtime, Cassidy started Bergeron, Marchand and McAvoy for Boston, while Derek King countered with Jonathan Toews, Hagel and Seth Jones for Chicago.
The two teams skated up and down the ice a couple times before the Bruins controlled possession in the attacking zone.
Hall faked retreating back into the neutral zone for a different play and sent a pass over to David Pastrnak at the point before Pastrnak dropped the puck back to Hall, whereby Hall pushed towards the net as Kane and Alex DeBrincat bought what Hall was originally selling and chased after Pastrnak.
Hall then worked a pass to Grzelcyk through the slot while Chicago’s only defender tried to block the passing lane, but Grzelcyk (3) settled the puck on a catch and release blast before wiring it behind Fleury for the game-winning goal at 1:40 of the overtime period.
Hall (32) and Pastrnak (28) had the assists on Grzelcyk’s goal– giving Hall two assists on the night and the 400th of his NHL career as a result.
With the, 2-1, overtime win, the B’s improved to 10-1-1 in their last 12 games and left United Center leading in shots on goal, 48-20, including a, 2-0, advantage in the extra frame.
Boston also left the ice leading in blocked shots (19-14), giveaways (9-8) and faceoff win% (52-48), while Chicago exited their own building leading in hits (30-28).
The Bruins improved to 5-3 in overtime this season and 7-5 overall past regulation, while Chicago dropped to 4-7 in the extra frame and 6-9 past 60 minutes in 2021-22.
Boston also improved to 10-5-2 (6-2-1 on the road) when tied after the first period, 8-3-0 (3-2-0 on the road) when tied after the second period and 27-7-2 (15-3-1 on the road) when scoring first this season.
Chicago fell to 10-13-4 (6-10-3 at home) when tied after one, 5-3-3 (2-1-3 at home) after two and 5-24-6 (2-13-4 at home) when allowing the game’s first goal in 2021-22.
The Bruins continue their four-game road trip (1-0-0) Wednesday night in Minnesota before venturing to Winnipeg on Friday and Montréal next Monday, which also coincides with the 2022 NHL Trade Deadline (March 21st).
Boston returns home to host the Tampa Bay Lightning on March 24th.