Dates, awards finalists, opting out, new faces, exhibition schedule and the Ottawa Senators rebrand.
For a lot of Boston Bruins fans, the term “goalie controversy” often draws up images of people shouting at each other on Twitter about Tim Thomas vs. Tuukka Rask– yes, even to this day, despite the fact that 1) Thomas was traded to the New York Islanders in 2013 and 2) that he effectively retired after the 2013-14 season split between the Florida Panthers and Dallas Stars (he never announced his retirement officially, anyway).
Both have a Stanley Cup ring to their names as they were members of the 2011 Stanley Cup champion Bruins roster, with Thomas leading the way to Boston’s first championship since 1972, while Rask was biding his time as the team’s backup before taking over as the full-time B’s starter since the 2012-13 season– racking up multiple franchise records in the process and two more Stanley Cup Final appearances in 2013 and 2019.
But this “goalie controversy” has nothing to do with the galaxy brain Thomas vs. Rask arguments on Twitter.
This is about the “controversial” debate that rages surrounding retiring No. 30 in Boston and the controversies that surround two of its most prominent Bruins to wear it.
When considering whether or not to retire a number in Bruins lore, first consider what other Original Six teams have done, since they’re the only comparable franchises with almost as many– if not more– years of history than Boston.
Then consider the fact that Boston has never retired a number for a goalie. For quick reference, retired numbers of goalies are in bold.
Boston Bruins retired numbers
- 2 Eddie Shore
- 3 Lionel Hitchman
- 4 Bobby Orr
- 5 “Dit” Clapper
- 7 Phil Esposito
- 8 Cam Neely
- 9 Johnny Bucyk
- 15 Milt Schmidt
- 16 Rick Middleton
- 24 Terry O’Reilly
- 77 Ray Bourque
Chicago Blackhawks retired numbers
- 1 Glenn Hall
- 3 Keith Magnuson/Pierre Pilote
- 9 Bobby Hull
- 18 Denis Savard
- 21 Stan Mikita
- 35 Tony Esposito
Detroit Red Wings retired numbers
- 1 Terry Sawchuk
- 4 Red Kelly
- 5 Nicklas Lidstrom
- 7 Ted Lindsay
- 9 Gordie Howe
- 10 Alex Delvecchio
- 12 Sid Abel
- 19 Steve Yzerman
Montreal Canadiens retired numbers
- 1 Jacques Plante
- 2 Doug Harvey
- 3 Emile Bouchard
- 4 Jean Beliveau
- 5 Bernie Geoffrion/Guy Lapointe
- 7 Howie Morenz
- 9 Maurice Richard
- 10 Guy Lafleur
- 12 Yvan Cournoyer/Dickie Moore
- 16 Henri Richard/Elmer Lach
- 18 Serge Savard
- 19 Larry Robinson
- 23 Bob Gainey
- 29 Ken Dryden
- 33 Patrick Roy
New York Rangers retired numbers
- 1 Eddie Giacomin
- 2 Brian Leetch
- 3 Harry Howell
- 7 Rod Gilbert
- 9 Andy Bathgate/Adam Graves
- 11 Vic Hadfield/Mark Messier
- 19 Jean Ratelle
- 35 Mike Ritcher
Toronto Maple Leafs retired numbers
- 1 Turk Broda/Johnny Bower
- 4 Hap Day/Red Kelly
- 5 Bill Barilko
- 6 Irvine “Ace” Bailey
- 7 King Clancy/Tim Horton
- 9 Ted Kennedy/Charlie Conacher
- 10 Syl Apps/George Armstrong
- 13 Mats Sundin
- 14 Dave Keon
- 17 Wendell Clark
- 21 Borje Salming
- 27 Frank Mahovlich/Darryl Sittler
- 93 Doug Gilmour
There’s not many retired goalie numbers among Original Six teams, let alone the rest of the NHL. Plus Boston hasn’t even retired No. 1 for Cecil “Tiny” Thompson and/or Frank Brimsek.
Next, think about Hockey Hall of Fame status, as well as career longevity (in Boston and outside of Boston).
Especially since there is no “Boston Bruins Hall of Fame” (which is a shame, really– they built The Hub on Causeway and they couldn’t dedicate more to team history/histories (if you include the NBA’s Boston Celtics) than just the entrance to the old Boston Garden standing inside of Banners Kitchen & Tap?).
Sure there’s The Sports Museum inside TD Garden, but the Montreal Canadiens have a Montreal Canadiens Hall of Fame underneath Bell Centre. Your move, Mr. Jacobs.
Cam Neely– He didn’t play nearly enough games for his era due to Ulf Samuelsson, but Neely is a Hockey Hall of Fame member.
Rick Middleton– He played a lot, scored a ton, but Middleton isn’t a member of the Hockey Hall of Fame.
Terry O’Reilly– He was like Milt Schmidt in that he did a lot for the Bruins organization (player and later coach), but O’Reilly isn’t a Hockey Hall of Fame member.
As with everything, there are exceptions to the rule and O’Reilly and Middleton are deservingly so in their own right.
Gerry Cheevers is a Hockey Hall of Fame goaltender. Tim Thomas is a U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame goaltender. He’s still eligible for the Hockey Hall of Fame, but he hasn’t gotten in and there’s no guarantees that he’ll make it.
Interestingly enough, however, while Thomas might never be inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame, Cheevers made it in 1985, but never won a Vezina (Thomas has two, 2008-09 and 2010-11) and was never named to an All-Star Team at season’s end (Thomas was named to two, 2008-09 and 2010-11).
Then think about how they left Boston.
In 1972, the World Hockey Association (WHA) came into fruition as a direct rival of the National Hockey League (NHL). The WHA promised better pay for players and the same– if not better– experience for fans.
It was created by a pair of American promoters who also made the American Basketball Association (ABA), which, if you’re a fan of basketball, you already know the ABA merger story with the National Basketball Association (NBA) to form the National Basketball Association (NBA, 1976-present).
From the onset, the ABA was poised to one day merge with the NBA in its efforts for success a la the American Football League (AFL) and National Football League (NFL) merger prior to the 1970 NFL season.
The WHA was all about what the NHL wasn’t about.
They wanted to capitalize on markets where hockey could flourish, but were otherwise overlooked by the NHL, as well as attract the best players in the game by paying more than what NHL teams would– especially attracting European talent whereas the NHL was stuck as a “North American” game at the time.
Free agency was a new concept for professional sports in the 1970s and it reigned supreme in the emerging shift towards player’s rights and the evolution of players’ associations.
The NHL’s reserve clause at the time meant players couldn’t become the equivalent of today’s unrestricted free agent until they were 31-years-old. These days, there’s restricted free agency, unrestricted free agency, as well as one-way and two-way contracts to worry about, but that’s another topic for another day.
Cheevers left the Bruins for the WHA, which was deplorable in the eyes of the NHL back then as much as it is now.
Though fans might have loved seeing the Cleveland Crusaders jerseys, NHL owners hated them.
Though players loved making more money at a time when all the other major professional sports were seeing significant raises, NHL owners hated them.
Though WHA franchises thought they’d be on the fast track to continuing operations in the NHL after the WHA ceased to exist, the NHL went all out to slash and burn the remnants of the WHA.
Seriously though, when the WHA initiated discussions for a merger in 1977, NHL owners voted down a plan to merge six WHA teams into the NHL.
The Edmonton Oilers, New England Whalers, Quebec Nordiques, Cincinnati Stingers, Houston Aeros and Winnipeg Jets wanted out of a league that was hemorrhaging money and into the safe arms of the NHL and its tradition.
By 1976, there were 32 major professional hockey teams between the NHL and WHA, which diluted the talent pool of a sport that was nowhere near the numbers of popularity and youth through junior league development as it is today.
When it came time to re-negotiate a merger in 1978, Houston was no longer in the plan, since the Aeros ended up having to fold.
The Indianapolis Racers folded in the middle of December 1978, which set the final nail in the merger. Cincinnati and the Birmingham Bulls would each be compensated to disband elsewhere, while Edmonton, New England, Quebec and Winnipeg would join the NHL at the WHA’s insistence.
Except it wasn’t that easy for the Oilers, Whalers, Nordiques and Jets.
Each team would be stripped of its history– rendering them as NHL expansion teams for the start of the 1979-80 season, subject to expansion fees, an expansion draft and penalizing them by allowing NHL teams to reclaim players that jumped ship to the WHA.
Additionally, the Bruins petitioned the “New England Whalers” moniker, resulting in the Whalers having to drop “New England” in favor of “Hartford” since Boston didn’t want any confusion that the Whalers were playing on their turf (despite Massachusetts and Connecticut both being part of New England).
The Bruins owned New England.
That only strengthened the underdog status of the Whalers and the hatred between the two clubs in their Adams Division rivalry after realignment for the 1981-82 season (Hartford kicked things off in their NHL tenure in the Norris Division from 1979-81).
Anyway, back to Cheevers and his departure from the Hub.
After winning his second Cup with Boston in 1972, Cheevers jumped at the opportunity Cleveland created to make a lot more money than what the Bruins were offering their two-time Stanley Cup winning goaltender.
Cheevers lasted parts of three seasons as a Crusader from 1972-73 to 1975-76, when a financial dispute with Cleveland’s management resulted in Cheevers jumping back into the NHL fold with Boston in the middle of the 1975-76 season.
Since becoming a starting goaltender in the 1967-68 season through Boston’s 1971-72 Cup winning season, Cheevers amassed a 126-52-40 record in 221 games with a 2.72 goals against average and a .915 save percentage in that span, as well as 15 shutouts.
Prior to his departure from the Bruins for Cleveland, he had a career best 2.50 GAA and .920 SV% in 41 games in the 1971-72 season alone as a 31-year-old goaltender (he wouldn’t turn 32 until Dec. 7, 1972).
Though Cheevers returned in 1975-76, things never were really the same.
His WHA tenure racked up a 99-78-9 record in 191 career games for the Crusaders from 1972 through part of the 1975-76 season– with a 3.12 GAA and 14 shutouts in that span.
On Jan. 27, 1976, he returned to Boston as a free agent after being released by Cleveland– two days after the Crusaders suspended him for not showing up and refusing to play.
By that point, Cheevers was 35-years-old and finished off the 1975-76 NHL season with an 8-2-5 record, as well as a 2.74 GAA and a .900 SV% in 15 games played for the Bruins.
In his full seasons for Boston that followed from 1976-77 to his retirement after the 1979-80 season, Cheevers went 87-35-24 in 151 games, with a 2.96 GAA, an .878 SV% and nine shutouts in that span.
Though the emergence of Wayne Gretzky to the NHL scene may have shifted the offensive output across the league since 1979, Cheevers’ NHL playing days only coincided with Gretzky in Gretzky’s rookie season (1979-80).
Though Cheevers had a .524 winning percentage in his first NHL stint with Toronto (two games) and Boston (250 games) from 1961-72 and a .572 winning percentage after his WHA days in 166 games with Boston from 1976-80, his goals against average and save percentage suffered dramatically from a 2.85 GAA and a .911 SV% in 1961-72 to a 2.94 GAA and an .880 SV% from 1976-80.
Of course, age and the inevitable “wall” that players hit at the twilight of their prime is likely a factor here.
Still, the fact remains the same.
Despite leading the Bruins as a head coach after his retirement as a player from 1980-85, his defection from the NHL to the WHA crushed his immediate chances at being honored for his work on the ice in a sweater with the spoked-B on the front and the No. 30 on the back.
And all these years later, he might still be paying for it.
Thomas, on the other hand, chose to sit out the 2012-13 season, citing a need for more connection to his faith, family and friends.
Though it’s certainly understandable these days, given the presumptive hell he must have gone through with all of his concussions and finding the love for the game again– albeit watching as a fan these days– since his retirement from the NHL after the 2013-14 season, Thomas’ 2012-13 plans weren’t the first time he angered the Bruins fanbase, let alone, Boston’s front office.
After winning the Cup in 2011, he skipped out on the team’s White House invitation— citing (to paraphrase) that both major political parties are at fault for the federal government’s overbearance on its citizens.
Other than that, there’s his staunch– if not, outlandish at times– political views that cannot be overlooked (his support for Chick-fil-A amidst the company’s anti-equal marriage stance) in a day and age where Hockey Is (supposed to be) For Everyone.
Like the rest of us, however, Thomas is human– complex, contradicting, well-defined and unique as an individual. We all struggle through our own cognitive dissonance through life.
For some, his on-ice performance can be separated from what his private off-ice personal life ensues.
For others, he might not be as high on the pedestal of Boston sports lore due to his complicated nature– one that contradicts research and the science behind traumatic brain injuries, therapy and experimental treatments with conspiracy theories related to climate change, among other things.
All of this begs the question “should there be a character component to retiring numbers,” which could lead to further discussion surrounding whether or not teams should permanently unretire numbers when legendary players don’t live up to being role models off the ice (see, Bobby Hull and the Chicago Blackhawks and Arizona Coyotes).
Likewise, the same argument could be applied to hall of fame inductions, but both are discussions for another time.
But Thomas’ decision to sit out the 2012-13 season with one-year remaining on his contract and a $5.000 million cap hit in a time when Boston was built for contending for another Cup run while spending $8.500 million combined between Thomas and Tuukka Rask in the crease as the team sat uncomfortably below the salary cap at about $68.868 million out of the $70.200 million ceiling, struck a nerve with then General Manager, Peter Chiarelli, and Co.
Oh and to further add to the uncertainty, the league hit a lockout prior to the start of the 2012-13 season, which saw the usual 82-game schedule reduced to 48 games that season once play resumed in January.
On Feb. 7, 2013, the Bruins traded Thomas to the New York Islanders to free up much needed cap space in an attempt to re-sign Rask, Nathan Horton, Andrew Ference, Anton Khudobin, Jaromir Jagr and others in the 2013 offseason after losing in six games to the Chicago Blackhawks in the 2013 Stanley Cup Final.
Only Rask remained as Ference’s free agent status priced himself out of Boston, Jagr was deemed “too old” (joke’s on them!) and Horton left for the Columbus Blue Jackets in a shroud of “word on the street” rumors. Khudobin, meanwhile, went to the Carolina Hurricanes on a one-year, $800,000 deal after Boston signed Chad Johnson for $200,000 less to be Rask’s backup for the 2013-14 season.
Thomas returned to the NHL for the 2013-14 season with the Florida Panthers after signing a one-year deal on Sept. 26, 2013, before later being traded to the Dallas Stars on March 5, 2014– one day after Florida re-acquired Roberto Luongo from the Vancouver Canucks.
His comeback season didn’t go well (posting a 16-20-3 record, a 2.87 goals against average and a .909 save percentage in 40 games with the Panthers, as well as a 2-4-1 record, a 2.97 GAA and a .902 SV% in eight games with the Stars) and Thomas rode off into the sunset after Dallas was eliminated in six games in the 2014 First Round by the Anaheim Ducks.
The Bruins may let bygones be bygones and welcome Thomas with open arms for a “Tim Thomas Night” or special ceremony one day in the future, but it likely won’t be before Rask retires.
As it is, Thomas isn’t planning on traveling much outside of his Washington, D.C. appearance for his induction into the U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame in Dec. 2019.
So, what goaltender could have their number retired by Boston?
If there’s one Bruins goaltender that will have his number retired sooner rather than later, it’s Rask.
There’s three probable options for Rask when all is said and done in 2021;
1) to sign a short term deal and remain with Boston for his entire NHL career,
2) to sign a contract elsewhere or
3) to retire– finishing his career as one of the greatest goaltenders in Bruins history as he currently ranks 1st in wins (291– Tiny Thompson is 2nd with 252), 1st in games played (536– Thompson is 2nd with 468), 1st in saves (13,711– Eddie Johnston is 2nd with 12,375), 1st in save percentage among goalies with a minimum of 100 games played as a Bruin (.922– Thomas is 2nd with a .921), 1st in goals against average among goalies with a minimum of 100 games played for Boston (2.26– Byron Dafoe is 2nd with a 2.30), 2nd in shutouts among goalies with a minimum 100 games played for Boston (50– Thompson leads with 74) and– as a bonus– Rask leads with the most points by a goaltender with the Bruins (15, all assists– Cheevers is 2nd with 11, also all assists).
That’s no slouch and not just a result of suiting up in a bunch of games for one team without any real success whatsoever.
That same 2011 Stanley Cup championship year for the Bruins?
Rask was part of that.
Doesn’t matter if you’re the starter or the backup when your name goes on the Cup for a job well done as one of the best goaltending tandems that season. Besides, in today’s NHL, there’s an ever increasing importance for a 1A/1B solution in the crease.
Rask also backstopped the team to two more Stanley Cup Final appearances since then in 2013 and 2019.
He also won the Vezina Trophy in 2014 and was likely on track to pick up his second Vezina this season– number of games played compared to his peers, like Andrei Vasilevskiy, be damned– at its pause due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic with a 2.12 GAA and a .929 SV%, as well as a 26-8-6 record in 41 games played.
No. 40 in black and gold led the NHL in goals against average this season and was second in save percentage, while sharing second place in shutouts with five.
Whether he wins this season’s Vezina Trophy or not, he’ll still have a consolation prize shared with his backup, Jaroslav Halak, as the duo won the William M. Jennings Trophy for the 2019-20 season as the goaltender(s) that have played a minimum of 25 games in a season for the team(s) with the fewest goals scored against it.
Rask and Halak allowed 174 goals this season in 70 games played, whereas Ben Bishop and Khudobin allowed 177 goals against for the Stars in 69 games.
This season’s hardware is Rask’s first Jennings Trophy win and Halak’s second career Jennings honors after previously sharing the title with Brian Elliott in the 2011-12 season with the Blues.
As for Rask’s jersey retirement case, it helps that he is tied for the best save percentage in league history (.922) with Dominik Hasek and 11th overall in the NHL’s all-time goals against averages with a 2.26 in his career.
Oh and the B’s have won the Presidents’ Trophy twice with Rask in the crease (2013-14 and 2019-20), something Thomas never did in his tenure with Boston and Cheevers could never do, since the award wasn’t presented for the first time until the 1985-86 season.
It’s possible the Bruins retire No. 40 before they make up for lost time and retire No. 30 for two players, like how the Toronto Maple Leafs retired No. 1 twice (Turk Broda and Johnny Bower).
After all, if you’re worried about running out of numbers that are typically used by a goaltender, Nos. 1, 29, 31, 35, 45 and any other number that isn’t already or won’t be retired by the time Boston gets around to retiring a goaltender’s jersey number (assuming the B’s retire No. 33 for Zdeno Chara, No. 37 for Patrice Bergeron, No. 46 for David Krejci and perhaps No. 63 and No. 88 by that time) will still be available.
The Vancouver Canucks routed the Boston Bruins, 9-3, at Rogers Arena on Saturday night in what was Boston’s third game in four nights of traveling.
That said, Canucks goaltender, Jacob Markstrom (23-16-4 record, 2.75 goals against average, .918 save percentage in 43 games played) made 34 saves on 37 shots against for a .918 SV% in 58:12 time on ice en route to the win.
Meanwhile, his teammate and Canucks backup goaltender, Thatcher Demko (10-6-2, 3.03 GAA, .905 SV% in 20 games played) made a brief relief appearance for a 1:48 span after Markstrom took an inadvertent stick through the cage of his mask early in the first period.
Bruins goaltender, Tuukka Rask (23-6-6, 2.17 GAA, .928 SV% in 36 games played) stopped 21 out of 27 shots faced for a .778 SV% in the loss.
Rask was replaced by Jaroslav Halak (16-6-6, 2.42 GAA, .918 SVT in 29 games played) after amassing 46:28 TOI and allowing six goals.
Halak came into the game during a stoppage in play after a Bruins power play goal in the second period and turned aside five out of the eight shots he faced for a .625 SV% en route to no decision in Boston’s loss.
All four goaltenders that dressed for the game took part in the action on Saturday– on a night in the National Hockey League where, 42-year-old, emergency backup goaltender, Dave Ayres, stole the show for the Carolina Hurricanes in their, 6-3, victory over the Toronto Maple Leafs on the road.
Also, the Arizona Coyotes beat the Tampa Bay Lightning, 7-3, on Saturday night.
Apparently goaltending was optional league wide for one night only!
Boston fell to 39-12-12 (90 points) on the season, but remained in command of the entire league standings, while Vancouver improved to 33-22-6 (72 points) and rose to 2nd place in the Pacific Division.
The B’s also fell to 18-10-3 on the road this season, while the Canucks improved to 20-7-4 at home this season.
February 9, 2016 was the last time Boston allowed nine goals (a, 9-2, loss on home ice to the Los Angeles Kings).
Once more, the Bruins were without the services of Kevan Miller (knee) and Connor Clifton (upper body/conditioning loan) on Saturday night.
B’s head coach, Bruce Cassidy, made no changes to his lineup from Friday night’s, 4-3, win in Calgary to Saturday night’s action in Vancouver.
Joakim Nordstrom, Par Lindholm and John Moore were healthy scratches for Boston, while Ondrej Kase was a de facto healthy scratch as he won’t meet up with the team until Monday for practice at Warrior Ice Arena after having been acquired by the Bruins on Friday.
Kase hasn’t played since Feb. 7th due to an illness and was skating with the Anaheim Ducks on Thursday prior to being traded the following day.
A little past the four-minute mark in the action, the Canucks struck first with a blast from Troy Stecher (4) from the faceoff dot, off of Rask, then off the post and over the goal line– giving Vancouver the game’s first lead, 1-0.
Tyler Motte (4) and Jay Beagle (5) recorded the assists on Stecher’s goal at 4:14 of the first period.
Less than a few minutes later, Boston responded on the scoreboard with a goal of their own– tying the game, 1-1, when David Pastrnak (44) deked and wrapped the rubber biscuit around Markstrom with a forehand goal after breaking into the zone on a breakaway thanks to a stretch pass from Matt Grzelcyk through the neutral zone.
Grzelcyk (15) had the only assist on Pastrnak’s first goal of the night at 7:06 of the first period. The goal tied Pastrnak for the most goals by a Bruin in a season since Glen Murray scored 44 goals in the 2002-03 season.
Moments later, Danton Heinen caught Markstrom with an errant stick while engaged in a net front battle and accidentally clipped the Canucks goaltender inside the cage with the blade of his stick.
There was no penalty on the play and Markstrom was forced to briefly leave the game before returning almost two minutes later.
In the meantime, Jeremy Lauzon received a holding infraction against Elias Pettersson at the other end of the ice at 10:21 of the first period, which provided Markstrom with the chance to replace Demko at the stoppage in the action.
Less than a minute later, Canucks captain, Bo Horvat (19), rocketed a one-timer from the high slot past Rask while Zdeno Chara and Brandon Carlo were split chasing J.T. Miller deep into the corner (from where the one-timer opportunity was generated by Miller to Horvat) and protecting the front of the crease.
Miller (36) and Vancouver’s newest forward, Tyler Toffoli (18), tallied the assists on Horvat’s power play goal and the Canucks led, 2-1, at 11:08 of the opening frame.
About four minutes later, Horvat took a trip to the penalty box for a holding minor against Brad Marchand and presented Boston with their first power play opportunity of the night at 15:34.
Boston’s power play was cut short when Patrice Bergeron also cut a rut to the sin bin for holding against Motte at 17:13– resulting in 21 seconds of 4-on-4 action before the Canucks had an abbreviated power play.
Neither team was able to score on the special teams action.
After one period of play in Vancouver on Saturday, the Canucks led the Bruins, 2-1, on the scoreboard and, 17-12, in shots on goal.
Vancouver also held the advantage in every other statistical category, including blocked shots (4-1), takeaways (7-4), giveaways (5-0), hits (14-10) and faceoff win percentage (57-43).
The Canucks were 1/2 on the power play, while the Bruins were 0/1 on the skater advantage heading into the first intermission.
Early in the middle frame, Adam Gaudette (11) wired a shot under the bar and over Rask’s glove from close range to extend Vancouver’s lead to two-goals.
Quinn Hughes (40) notched the only assist on Gaudette’s goal and Vancouver led, 3-1, at 5:32 of the second period.
Late in the period, the Canucks added a pair of goals when Tanner Pearson (18) pocketed a rebound to extend Vancouver’s lead to three-goals at 14:48.
Loui Eriksson (6) and Tyler Myers (13) had the assists on Pearson’s goal, which made it, 4-1, for the Canucks before Eriksson (6) tallied a goal of his own after stuffing in a loose puck off a deflection in the slot to make it, 5-1, for the Canucks.
Horvat (29) and Alexander Edler (21) recorded the primary and secondary assists on Eriksson’s goal at 15:39 of the second period.
Less than a minute later, Chara took exception to Myers’ hit on Karson Kuhlman in front of the benches and attempted to engage the Vancouver defender in an exchange of fisticuffs, but the Canucks blue liner didn’t want any part of it.
As a result, Myers was assessed a minor for roughing, while Chara picked up two roughing minors at 16:37– yielding a power play to the Canucks in the waning moments of the middle frame.
With less than a minute left in the second period, Charlie Coyle and Horvat got into a scrap and traded punches.
Both players received five-minute majors for fighting at 19:30 and were sent to the dressing room 30 seconds ahead of everyone else.
Through 40 minutes of action in Vancouver, the Canucks led on the scoreboard, 5-1, and in shots on goal, 25-24.
The Canucks also maintained the advantage in blocked shots (11-2), takeaways (12-6), giveaways (8-3) and faceoff win% (56-44), while the Bruins led in hits (25-23).
Vancouver was 1/3 on the skater advantage, while Boston was 0/1 on the power play heading into the third period.
Less than a minute into the final frame of regulation, Pettersson (25) snapped a wrist shot over Rask’s blocker side and into the twine.
Miller (37) and Stecher (9) had the assists on Pettersson’s goal and the Canucks led, 6-1, 46 seconds into the third period.
Moments later, Antoine Roussel caught Torey Krug with a high stick at 5:25 of the third period and presented the B’s with their second power play of the night.
This time around, Boston made sure to capitalize on the skater advantage.
Pastrnak (45) blasted one of his patented power play goals behind Markstrom to cut the deficit to four-goals at 6:28.
Krug (34) and Marchand (54) tallied the assists as Pastrnak picked up his 45th goal of the season– becoming the highest goal-scoring Bruin since Murray in 2002-03– and the B’s trailed, 6-2.
Before the ensuing faceoff, Cassidy replaced Rask with Halak in the crease.
Less than two minutes later, Boston began to mount some momentum with another quick goal from Chris Wagner (5)– his first goal in 18 games– after Wagner followed up on his own rebound and slipped in a backhand goal to make it, 6-3, at 8:11 of the third period.
Grzelcyk (16) and Sean Kuraly (16) had the assists on Wagner’s first goal since Jan. 7th.
Boston’s surge in momentum didn’t last long as Toffoli (19) slapped a one-timer past Halak about three minutes later.
Miller (38) had the only assist on Toffoli’s first goal and once again worked the puck from the end boards back to a teammate for the surefire one-timer goal at 11:10 of the third period and the Canucks led, 7-3.
Less than two minutes later, after Halak managed to stop multiple consecutive shots, finally the Canucks slipped a shot through as chaos ensued in front of the net.
Toffoli (20) mustered his second goal of the game and extended Vancouver’s lead back to five-goals.
Hughes (41) had the only assist on Toffoli’s second goal at 13:03 and the Canucks led, 8-3.
Finally, Jake Virtanen (17) snaked his way through the neutral zone and beat Halak clean with a wrist shot goal past Halak’s glove at 18:15 of the third period and extended Vancouver’s lead to six-goals.
Edler (22) and Stecher (10) each amassed their second assists of the night on Virtanen’s goal and the Canucks finished off the Bruins, 9-3.
At the final horn, Vancouver had beaten Boston, despite trailing the Bruins in shots on goal, 37-35.
The Canucks finished the night leading in every other stat, including blocked shots (18-6), giveaways (12-4), hits (31-29) and faceoff win% (55-46).
Vancouver wrapped up Saturday night’s action 1/3 on the skater advantage, while the B’s went 1/2 on the power play in the 60-minute effort.
Boston fell to 6-5-3 when trailing after one period and 5-9-4 when trailing after two periods this season, while Vancouver improved to 17-3-2 when leading after one period and 21-1-1 when leading after two periods this season.
Hughes became the 2nd Canucks rookie defender to record 40 or more assists in a season, joining Dale Tallon (14-42–56 totals) in 1970-71. Hughes joined Bryan Berard (40 in 1996-97), Janne Niinimaa (40 in 1996-97) and Nicklas Lidstrom (49 in 1991-92) as just the fourth rookie defender in the last 30 years to amass at least 40 assists in a single season.
Vancouver became the third different team this season to score nine goals, joining the Lightning (9-3, win against the New York Rangers on Nov. 14, 2019 and a, 9-2, win against Vancouver on Jan. 7, 2020) and Colorado Avalanche (9-4, win against the Nashville Predators on Nov. 7, 2019).
Boston finished their four-game road trip (3-1-0).
The B’s return home for a two-game homestand on Tuesday, Feb. 25th and Thursday, Feb. 27th for meetings with the Calgary Flames and Dallas Stars, respectively, before wrapping up the month of February with a road game against the New York Islanders on Feb. 29th.
The Montreal Canadiens eked out a, 5-4, win over the Boston Bruins on Tuesday night at Bell Centre thanks to an overturned goal in the third period– snapping Boston’s six-game win streak in the process.
Goaltending was optional as Montreal’s Carey Price (7-4-1 record, 2.75 goals against average, .883 save percentage in 12 games played) made 21 saves on 25 shots against for an .840 SV% in the win.
Meanwhile, Boston netminder, Tuukka Rask (7-1-1, 1.88 GAA, .936 SV% in nine games played), stopped 26 out of 31 shots faced for an .839 SV% in the loss.
The Bruins fell to 11-2-2 (24 points) on the season, but remained in control of 1st place in the Atlantic Division, while the Canadiens improved to 8-5-2 (18 points) and tied the Florida Panthers for 4th in the Atlantic in points (though the Panthers hold the tiebreaker, having played in one fewer game than Montreal).
Kevan Miller (knee) and John Moore (shoulder) have yet to debut this season for the Bruins as both missed their 15th game Tuesday night due to lingering injuries from last spring.
Karson Kuhlman (fractured tibia), Joakim Nordstrom (infection), Par Lindholm (upper body) and David Backes (upper body) were all still out against Montreal, with Lindholm as the latest Bruin to join the injured reserve prior to Tuesday’s matchup.
Despite sustaining a nasty cut in Monday night’s, 6-4, win over the Pittsburgh Penguins, Charlie McAvoy was in the lineup against the Canadiens, as was Torey Krug (who caught a skate up high and drew some blood Monday night as well).
Zach Senyshyn was recalled from the Providence Bruins (AHL) and inserted into the lineup on the right side of the third line with Anders Bjork and Charlie Coyle.
Senyshyn has three points (two goals, one assist) in 12 games with Providence this season and one goal in two career NHL games (made his NHL debut last season).
With Senyshyn entering the lineup, Boston head coach, Bruce Cassidy, bumped Brett Ritchie down to the fourth line right wing with Chris Wagner returning to the left side of Sean Kuraly.
After making his NHL debut against Pittsburgh on Monday, Cameron Hughes joined Steven Kampfer as Boston’s only healthy scratches on Tuesday.
B’s captain, Zdeno Chara, played in his 1,500th career game and became just the 21st player and sixth defender in league history to play in 1,500 or more games in their career.
Chara joined Chris Chelios (1,651 career games), Scott Stevens (1,635), Larry Murphy (1,615), Ray Bourque (1,612) and Nicklas Lidstrom (1,564) as the only defenders to play in 1,500 or more games.
Habs head coach, Claude Julien, reached the 1,200th game of his career behind the bench on Tuesday as well.
Julien won the Cup with the Bruins in 2011 and received an ovation from the Bell Centre crowd before Chara’s milestone was acknowledged at the following media timeout in the first period.
Victor Mete (2) kicked things off with a quick start for Montreal as the Canadiens defender jumped at the perfect opportunity to collect the game’s first goal after the puck deflected off of a teammate in front of the goal and rebounded into the low slot unattended.
Mete’s goal was assisted by Joel Armia (4) and Jeff Petry (7) at 1:13 of the first period and the Habs jumped ahead with the, 1-0, lead.
Late in the period, Mete hooked Senyshyn and was sent to the penalty box with a minor infraction at 14:49 of the first period.
Boston only needed six seconds on the power play for Patrice Bergeron to win the faceoff back to Krug, then slide the puck over to David Pastrnak (15) for the one-timer slap shot power play goal.
Krug (10) and Bergeron (9) tallied the assists as the Bruins tied the game, 1-1, at 14:55.
With the goal, Pastrnak extended his current point streak to 13 games– setting a new career-high in the process. He also became the first Bruin to score 15 goals in their first 15 games of the season since Peter McNab did so in 1976-77.
A couple of minutes later, Tomas Tatar (5) sent a shot off of Rask’s glove and into the twine to put the Canadiens ahead, 2-1.
Brendan Gallagher (6) and Ben Chiarot (2) had the assists on Tatar’s goal at 16:45.
Less than a minute after retaking the lead, Montreal extended their lead to two goals as Paul Byron (1) barely kept the puck in the attacking zone and succeeded on an individual effort– sending a shot through Rask’s five-hole– for his first goal of the season.
Byron’s goal was unassisted at 17:16 of the first period and the Habs led, 3-1.
Entering the first intermission, Montreal led Boston, 3-1, on the scoreboard and, 13-6, in shots on goal.
The Canadiens also held the advantage in blocked shots (5-3), while the Bruins led in giveaways (10-9), hits (12-11) and faceoff win percentage (67-33).
Both teams had two takeaways aside and the B’s were 1/1 on the power play, while the Habs had yet to see any action on the skater advantage heading into the second period.
Less than a minute into the middle frame, Bergeron hooked Phillip Danault and presented the Canadiens with a power play 50 seconds into the second period.
Boston killed Bergeron’s minor infraction without any issue, but followed up the special teams action with another hooking infraction– this time for Pastrnak against Shea Weber at 3:58.
Montreal didn’t capitalize on the ensuing skater advantage.
Almost midway through the period, Ryan Poehling blocked a shot by Krug that rocketed off of the side of Poehling’s helmet, sending the Montreal forward to the ice before the whistle was blown for the injured skater to head down the tunnel under his own power.
While Poehling went down with an injury, so did Petry as the Canadiens defender caught the ice in an awkward manor with his leg.
Petry returned from the dressing room shortly thereafter and had no issues. Poehling returned to the action too without any major damage.
Connor Clifton (1) walzted around two Canadiens players, held the puck and sniped a shot over Price’s glove while Coyle screened the Montreal goaltender at 7:17 of the second period, bringing the Bruins to within one goal.
Clifton’s unassisted effort cut Montreal’s lead to, 3-2, and was his first career regular season NHL goal in just his 32nd career game.
Late in the period, Bjork (2) slid a rebound under Price’s pad from point blank to tie the game, 3-3.
McAvoy (4) had the only assist on the goal at 18:13, but the game wouldn’t remain tied for long.
Almost 40 seconds later, Mete (3) tucked in his 2nd goal of the ngiht with a shot from the point that floated over Rask, top-shelf, as Chara bumped Montreal center, Nate Thompson, into the Boston goaltender.
Artturi Lehkonen (4) and Petry (8) collected the assists on Mete’s goal at 18:55 and the Canadiens regained the lead, 4-3.
Through 40 minutes of action in Montreal, the Habs led the B’s, 4-3, on the scoreboard and, 25-15, in shots on goal (including a, 12-9, advantage for Montreal in the second period alone).
The Canadiens also led in blocked shots (14-7) and takeaways (7-5), while the Bruins led in giveaways (16-15), hits (25-22) and faceoff win% (62-38) entering the second intermission.
Montreal was 0/2 and Boston was still 1/1 on the power play heading into the third period.
Weber caught Brad Marchand with a high stick 14 seconds into the third period and was sent to the sin bin for a minor penalty, but the Bruins weren’t able to capitalize on the ensuing power play.
Instead, in the vulnerable minute after special teams action, Boston’s fourth line went to work with Wagner dishing a quick pass to Kuraly (1) for the fourth line center to bank the puck off of Price’s skate and into the net– tying the game, 4-4, at 3:03 of the third period.
Wagner (4) had the only assist on the goal and the B’s had momentum on their side.
Moments later, after Coyle thought he had scored by redirecting a pass from Senyshyn through Price’s five-hole while the Habs goaltender was without his stick, Julien used his coach’s challenge arguing that the Bruins had originally entered the zone offside.
After review, it was determined that Coyle had just barely entered the zone by about half a skate ahead of the puck and was offside prior to the play that led to the goal and the call on the ice was overturned at 5:23.
Instead of rallying against the overturned call, Boston went into a hole and found themselves clamoring towards the end of games in back-to-back nights.
Chiarot (2) sent a shot of Rask’s glove and into the back of the net to give the Canadiens the lead once more, 5-4, at 9:06 of the third period after Montreal sustained tremendous pressure in the attacking zone.
Weber (8) and Tatar (8) each had an assist on the game-winning goal as the Canadiens never looked back for the remaining half-a-period.
After Boston iced the puck with 58.5 seconds remaining, Julien used his timeout to rally his attackers for one last push for a goal before the Bruins could pull their goaltender for an extra skater.
Neither team could score as time expired and the final horn sounded at Bell Centre.
The Canadiens had finished Boston’s six-game winning streak with a, 5-4, victory on home ice.
Montreal wrapped up Tuesday night’s contest leading in shots on goal (31-25), blocked shots (27-11) and giveaways (24-19), while Boston led in shots on net in the third period alone (10-6), hits (36-31) and faceoff win% (60-40).
The Canadiens went 0/2 on the power play and the B’s finished the game 1/2 on the skater advantage.
Boston is now 4-2-1 on the road this season and 1-1-1 when trailing after two periods.
The Bruins face the Detroit Red Wings on Friday at Little Caesars Arena. Boston returns home on Nov. 10th for a two-game homestand against the Philadelphia Flyers (Nov. 10th) and Florida (Nov. 12th).
The U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame Class of 2019 was announced, a major shakeup in the Board of Governors may be ahead, extensions were signed, Jake Gardiner joined the Carolina Hurricanes and it’s time for our DTFR Podcast season previews (starting with the Pacific Division).
The DTFR Duo breaks down Jimmy Howard’s one-year extension with the Detroit Red Wings, Gritty’s allegiance in the 2019 NHL Global Series, the New York Islanders’ bottom-six dilemma, Ilya Kovalchuk’s relationship with the Los Angeles Kings, more awards and a look at how things should stack up in the Metropolitan Division for the 2019 Stanley Cup Playoffs.
Did you think I’d forgotten? We still need a Game of the Week! Let’s take a look at this edition’s options:
|NHL SCHEDULE: February 11-17|
|TIME (ALL TIMES EASTERN)||VISITOR||HOST||NATIONAL BROADCAST(S)/
|Monday, February 11|
|7 p.m.||Los Angeles||Washington||4-6|
|10 p.m.||San Jose||Vancouver||7-2|
|Tuesday, February 12|
|7 p.m.||New York Islanders||Buffalo Sabres||1-3|
|7:30 p.m.||Calgary||Tampa Bay||3-6|
|8 p.m.||New Jersey||St. Louis||3-8|
|8 p.m.||New York Rangers||Winnipeg Jets||3-4|
|Wednesday, February 13|
|Thursday, February 14|
|7 p.m.||Calgary||Florida||2-3 (SO)|
|7 p.m.||New York Islanders||Columbus Blue Jackets||3-0|
|7:30 p.m.||Dallas||Tampa Bay||0-6|
|8:30 p.m.||New Jersey||Chicago||2-5|
|9 p.m.||St. Louis||Arizona||4-0|
|10:30 p.m.||Vancouver||Los Angeles||4-3 (SO)|
|10:30 p.m.||Washington||San Jose||5-1|
|Friday, February 15|
|7 p.m.||New York Rangers||Buffalo Sabres||6-2|
|8:30 p.m.||New Jersey||Minnesota||5-4 (OT)|
|Saturday, February 16|
|1 p.m.||Detroit||Philadelphia||5-6 (OT)|
|3 p.m.||St. Louis||Colorado||3-0|
|7 p.m.||Ottawa||Winnipeg||4-3 (OT)|
|7 p.m.||Montréal||Tampa Bay||0-3|
|7 p.m.||Edmonton Oilers||New York Islanders||2-5|
|10 p.m.||Vancouver||San Jose||2-3|
|10:30 p.m.||Boston||Los Angeles||4-2|
|Sunday, February 17|
|12:30 p.m.||New York Rangers||Pittsburgh Penguins||NBC, SN, TVAS|
|3 p.m.||St. Louis||Minnesota||NBC, SN|
|6 p.m.||Buffalo||New Jersey|
|7 p.m.||Montréal||Florida||RDS, SN|
With the trade deadline looming just around the corner, it’s been another exciting week in the NHL. After all, another edition of the Battle of the Keystone State was waged on Monday, followed the next day by two more rivalries featuring Arizona, Boston, Chicago and Vegas.
Tuesday also saw the Blue Jackets and Capitals reignite last season’s First Round playoff bout, with Columbus winning 3-0 in what just might be a preview of another playoff series to come this April.
As for the biggest player homecoming on this week’s calendar, that title belongs to F Chris Wagner of the Boston Bruins. Wagner spent four seasons with the Ducks (2014-18), appearing in 133 games and registering 12-12-24 totals. He was shipped to the Islanders at last season’s trade deadline before signing with the Atlantic Division’s current second-best team – not to mention his hometown club – this offseason. His Bruins beat Anaheim 3-0 on Friday.
Today is Hockey Day in America, but DtFR is holding off on the celebration until this evening before the Capitals-Ducks game to take in D Scott Niedermayer‘s jersey retirement ceremony.
Niedermayer may have only spent five seasons in Anaheim, but there’s no doubt he plays an integral role in the Ducks’ history. He joined the then Mighty Ducks in 2005-06 after 13 seasons and three Stanley Cups in New Jersey, signing as an unrestricted free agent to a four-year, $27 million contract to join forces with RW Teemu Selanne, F Andy McDonald and brother F Rob Niedermayer and serve as their captain.
Named a First Team All-Star for the second consecutive season and finishing second in Norris Trophy voting behind D Nicklas Lidstrom, Niedermayer and his 13-50-63 totals was just the addition the Mighty Ducks needed on their blue line to return to the playoffs for the first time since 2003’s trip to the Stanley Cup Final – you know, the one where Niedermayer’s Devils beat Anaheim in Game 7. Despite qualifying as the six seed, the Mighty Ducks took advantage of a wildly unpredictable Western Conference playoff to advance all the way to the Conference Finals before falling in five games to Edmonton.
For a champion like Niedermayer, falling short in the Conference Finals was unacceptable, as he elevated his game to even better 15-54-69 totals during the 2006-07 season to notch career-highs in all three statistics as well as propel the Ducks (the new and less-mighty edition) all the way to the West’s second seed.
Though that impressive effort was good enough to earn Niedermayer his third-consecutive First Team All-Star selection, he still had his eye on a fourth Stanley Cup. Despite registering only 3-8-11 marks in the Ducks’ 21 postseason games (second-best among Ducks defensemen despite playing two more games than D Chris Pronger), Niedermayer’s two game-winners (one was the series-clincher against Vancouver in double-overtime, the other the overtime winner in Game 1 of the Western Finals) and his power play goal to force overtime against the Red Wings in Game 5 of the Conference Finals was enough to win him the Conn Smythe Trophy and Anaheim’s first title in any sport since the Angels’ 2002 World Series win. The Ducks’ lone Stanley Cup is still the city’s most recent title.
The remaining three years of Niedermayer’s tenure in Anaheim paled in comparison to his first two. The Ducks didn’t make it past the Conference Semifinals in 2008 or 2009 (in fact, they lost in the first round the season after winning the Stanley Cup) and failed to qualify for the 2010 Stanley Cup Playoffs; Niedermayer didn’t win anymore hardware, nor did he reach the 60-point plateau again.
However, Niedermayer’s mission when he signed with Anaheim had been accomplished. He’d won his fourth title without the help of his dominant Devils teammates, and he’d helped his brother earn his first ring. He’d helped the Ducks to a then franchise-record 48 wins
And it is for that championship and his career-defining seasons that the Hall of Famer is being honored tonight. Having already seen his No. 27 hoisted to the Prudential Center rafters, he’ll receive that same recognition tonight at Honda Center.
Unfortunately for the Ducks faithful, The Pond’s good vibes might find a quick end after Niedermayer’s ceremony. After all, the 22-27-9 Anaheim Ducks are riding an infamous 3-16-4 skid that dates all the way back to December 18. This torrid run has seen the Ducks drop all the way from a playoff position to fourth-to-last in the NHL, earning Randy Carlyle an early offseason.
It comes as no surprise that a squad that has struggled as much as the Ducks is finding almost no success in any phase of the game. Anaheim’s offense has ranked dead last in the NHL since December 18, accounting for only 1.52 goals per game in that time – a full six-tenths of a goal worse than Dallas.
Of course, even when the Ducks were having success earlier in the season, offense was in no way their game. They were averaging only 2.57 goals per game through their first 35 outings – a mark that would rank 29th among teams’ current season averages.
Instead, the biggest reason for this decline is the breakdown on the defensive end. In their past 23 games, the Ducks have allowed an average of 3.7 goals per game, the second-worst mark in the NHL in that time (fellow Pacific Division member Edmonton’s 3.92 goals against per game takes credit for worst in the league since December 18). However, only one facet of the defense is truly at fault.
Whether it is 1-1-0 G Kevin Boyle or 4-2-1 G Ryan Miller that receives the nod tonight (17-19-8 G John Gibson and 0-5-0 G Chad Johnson are both on injured reserve with respective back and head injuries) is still unknown.
Despite his rookie status behind a porous defense (more on that in a moment), Boyle has been far from the problem for the Ducks lately, as he boasts a .955 save percentage and 1.51 GAA for his short, three-game NHL career. Meanwhile, Miller has only recently been cleared to resume action. If he were to take to the crease tonight, it would be his first appearance since December 9 – a 6-5 shootout home victory over the New Jersey Devils that he did not finish.
For what it’s worth, Miller is riding a personal two-game win streak and three-game point streak.
As mentioned before, what makes the youngster’s solid stats even more impressive is he’s getting absolutely no help from his skaters. Since December 18, Anaheim has allowed a whopping 32.91 shots against per game – the seventh-worst mark in the league in that time.
Making the trip to Orange County are the 32-19-7 Washington Capitals, the Metropolitan Division’s second-best team.
In their last six games, the Caps have managed a solid record of 4-1-1 – more than good enough to hold on to their current position in the standings against the middling Metro teams. In particular, this surge has been spearheaded by Washington’s dominant offense, which has been rattling off 3.67 goals per game since February 5 – the (t)seventh-best mark in the league in that time.
Leading this attack has been none other than Evgeny Kuznetsov, the Capitals’ top-line center. In his past six outings, Kuznetsov has registered dominant 5-6-11 totals, including an amazing 2-2-4 performance against the Ducks’ arch-rivals in D.C. on Monday. On the season, Kuznetsov now has 15-39-54 marks in 52 appearances.
Washington has also boasted a decent effort on the defensive end, allowing only three goals per game during this six-game run – the (t)12th-best mark in the NHL in that time. Despite managing only a .908 save percentage and 2.99 GAA for the season, 20-14-4 G Braden Holtby has been on a tear lately, boasting a .917 save percentage and 2.51 GAA for his last four starts.
It’s hard to see a way the Ducks escape with a win tonight. Washington has been rolling lately, and the Ducks offense in particular simply do not have an answer for the Caps’ attack. Unless C Ryan Getzlaf can add at least four points to his total tonight, Washington should pull back within three points of New York for the Metro lead.
The Dallas Stars and Pittsburgh Penguins swapped familiar assets, while the Toronto Maple Leafs added a defender in a deal with the Los Angeles Kings. Red Kelly’s number is going to be retired (again– this time by the Detroit Red Wings) and we now know the opponents in the 2020 Winter Classic and 2020 Stadium Series games.
The Edmonton Oilers fired their president of hockey operations and General Manager, Peter Chiarelli (April 2015-January 2019). The club officially made the announcement after the DTFR Duo finished recording this week’s episode.
There won’t be a 2020 World Cup of Hockey and there were a few milestones to go along with a bunch of minor trades made this week.
With the win, Rask (14-8-3 record, 2.42 goals against average, .920 save percentage in 25 games played) tied Tiny Thompson for the most career wins in Bruins franchise history as he earned his 252nd win in a Boston sweater.
Rask made 28 saves on 30 shots against for a .933 SV% on Thursday night en route to victory.
Blues goaltender, Jake Allen (15-15-4, 3.04 GAA, .897 SV% in 36 GP), stopped 22 out of 26 shots faced for an .846 SV% in the loss.
St. Louis is now 4-1-1 in their last six road games as Boston rebounded from a, 4-3, loss to the Philadelphia Flyers on Wednesday at Wells Fargo Center.
The B’s improved to 17-4-3 when scoring first this season and are now 27-16-5 (59 points) overall on the season– good enough to remain in 3rd place in the Atlantic Division. The Blues fell to 20-21-5 (45 points) and remained in 6th place in the Central Division.
Cassidy also put John Moore back alongside Kevan Miller on the third defensive pairing, but after the two were on the ice for both St. Louis goals, the Bruins head coach limited their time on ice for the third period– sitting both defenders for about the final 15 minutes of action.
As a result of his lineup decisions, Matt Grzelcyk and Noel Acciari joined Steven Kampfer as the healthy scratches for Boston on Thursday, while Joakim Nordstrom (non-displaced fibula fracture) remains out of the lineup due to injury.
St. Louis did not convert on the ensuing power play opportunity.
Late in the opening period, after being on the receiving end of a couple of big hits– including one on Charlie McAvoy— Bruins captain, Zdeno Chara, decided he’d take matters into his own hands to defend his teammates who were taking a bit of a beating in the physical department.
Chara dropped the gloves and exchanged fisticuffs with Patrick Maroon at 17:30 of the first period and successfully got the take down to the eruption of the home crowd.
It was the first fight of the season for No. 33 in black-and-gold (Chara last fought on March 1, 2018) and his 1,452 career NHL game– surpassing Teemu Selanne for 3rd all-time among European born NHL players.
The Bruins and Blues went into their dressing rooms for the first intermission tied, 0-0, on the scoreboard.
Boston held the advantage in shots on goal (13-9) after one period of play, while St. Louis led in giveaways (11-3) and hits (17-8). Both teams had four blocked shots each, five takeaways each and were 50-50 in face-off win percentage through 20 minutes of play.
The Blues were 0/1 on the power play heading into the second period.
Early in the middle frame, Peter Cehlarik got his stick between the legs of Ryan O’Reilly and tripped up the St. Louis forward. Cehlarik was sent to the sin bin with a minor penalty for tripping at 1:01 of the second period.
St. Louis did not convert on their second skater advantage of the night.
Shortly after killing off Cehlarik’s minor, Boston capitalized on the vulnerable minute after special teams play as Krejci found Torey Krug (5) wide open in the slot where the B’s defender had worked his way in to send a wrist shot past Allen, giving the Bruins the lead, 1-0, at 3:31.
Krejci (28) and Cehlarik (1) notched the assists on Krug’s first goal in 13 games.
The young Boston defenseman now has 20 points in his last 20 games, while Cehlarik has three points (two goals, one assist) in his first two games this season after making his 2018-19 season debut Wednesday night in Philadelphia.
Just 52 seconds after Boston got on the scoreboard first, St. Louis responded with a goal of their own.
O’Reilly (17) pocketed one on a mostly empty net as Rask made the initial couple of saves– including one in desperation– while his teammates were scrambling in their own zone.
Boston descended into a bit of a lull in the middle frame as St. Louis emerged as a more dominant team in possession and shots on goal through the second period.
Carl Gunnarsson (1) ripped a shot past Rask’s glove side after another defensive breakdown in the Bruins own zone led to the first lead change of the night as the Blues took the lead, 2-1, at 13:36.
Less than a minute later, Robert Bortuzzo cross-checked Sean Kuraly and was penalized at 14:03.
The Bruins went on the power play for the first time of the night, entering Thursday with the 2nd best power play completion percentage in the league at 28%, despite going 1/4 against the Flyers on Wednesday.
Late in their skater advantage, Chara blasted a shot from the point that deflected off of Backes (5) and into the net behind Allen while Backes was taking the brunt of a check in front of the goal.
Backes’ goal tied the game, 2-2, at 16:00 of the second period and was assisted by Chara (3) and Krejci (29).
Wagner took a quick trip to the penalty box for (wait for it) tripping Schwartz at 16:40, but the ensuing power play for the Blues was short lived as St. Louis was penalized for too many men on the ice at 18:11.
After about 25 seconds of 4-on-4 action, the Bruins would have an abbreviated power play that’d barely extended into the third period. Spoiler alert, Boston did not convert on the abbreviated 5-on-4 advantage.
Entering the second intermission, the game was tied, 2-2, and the Bruins led in shots on goal, 21-20, despite being outshot by St. Louis, 11-8, in the second period alone.
The B’s led in blocked shots (12-7) and face-off win% (59-41) after two periods, while the Blues led in takeaways (12-10), giveaways (14-8) and hits (23-19).
Since there were no penalties called in the third period, St. Louis finished the night 0/3 on the power play after 40 minutes, while Boston went 1/2.
Wagner (6) dangled the puck to his backhand, fooling Allen and forcing the Blues goaltender to commit to his right side, before pulling the puck back to his forehand and scoring on a largely open net to put the Bruins ahead, 3-2.
Forsbacka Karlsson (5) had the only assist on Wagner’s goal at 5:27 of the third period.
About eight minutes later, Brad Marchand (18) found a rebound on his stick and put it in the back of the twine to give Boston a two-goal lead, making it, 4-2 at 13:12.
McAvoy (11) and Patrice Bergeron (26) had the assists on the goal after Bergeron won the face-off in the offensive zone and McAvoy wrapped around the net and fired the shot that rebounded off of Allen’s pads to Marchand’s stick for the goal.
With about 3:20 remaining in regulation, Craig Berube pulled his netminder for an extra skater in a last ditch effort to score two quick goals and tie the game.
After a stoppage with 1:46 remaining, Berube used his team’s timeout, but it was too little, too late.
Kuraly (6) fixed what Wagner couldn’t complete on two chances on the empty net in Boston’s offensive zone (Wagner almost pulled a Patrik Stefan— look it up, it’s worth your time).
Krejci (30) and Wagner (5) collected the assists on Kuraly’s empty net goal that made it, 5-2, at 19:08.
At the final horn, Boston had beaten St. Louis, 5-2, despite being outshot, 30-27.
The Bruins finished the night leading in blocked shots (15-11) and face-off win% (54-46), while the Blues led in giveaways (25-13) and hits (29-23).
Rask improved to 6-0-1 in his last seven starts with the win and will likely get the start in Boston’s next game.
The Bruins take on the New York Rangers Saturday night on home ice in their final game before going on their bye week and the All Star break. David Pastrnak is the only representative from the team with the spoked-B at the 2019 Honda NHL All-Star Weekend festivities at SAP Center in San Jose this year.
Boston resumes play after the break on Tuesday, January 29th against the Winnipeg Jets at TD Garden before closing out the month of January with another home game on the 31st against the Flyers.