BOSTON, MA – We are about two-thirds of the way through the 2018-19 National Hockey League season and the bigger picture is beginning to take shape.
In fact, this is the time of year where teams are taking a hard look at themselves. With the NHL trade deadline just a few weeks away, will certain teams be buyers or sellers? In the case of the Boston Bruins, they need to be buyers. Big buyers. Go shopping for high-price merchandise and no discounts or shortcuts should be used.
All kidding aside, the B’s need help up front. A prolific goal scorer to add to the second line is the most glaring hole on this roster. Yes, Boston has been doing just fine as of late, accumulating points in every game this past week. However, it will be impossible to sustain that type of momentum without the equal distribution of scoring.
That is a different story for a different day. For now, the Bruins were focused on the task at hand. They welcomed the Los Angeles Kings to TD Garden for a Saturday afternoon tilt to close out the week.
With the Bruins right in the middle of a tight playoff race, the Kings are in a tight race for the top pick in the draft. Los Angeles has struggled mightily this season as the team ranks near the bottom of the Western Conference in nearly every offensive category. Plus, the Kings came into this game in the midst of a grueling road trip.
Two teams heading in two separate directions. Let’s see how this one shook out.
Tuukka Rask (16-8-4, 2.30 GAA, .924 SV%) opposed Jonathan Quick (11-13-3, 2.92 GAA, .904 SV%) in the goaltending matchup. Rask has certainly turned things around as of late and he is starting to look like the primary goaltender we are used to seeing. However, Quick is still one of the top netminders in the league and he is always a threat to steal two points. This was a matchup that had the potential to take over this game.
The first period started off in mundane fashion. The Bruins riffled off five-straight shots on Quick to keep the pressure on, but the Kings were able to get some decent scoring chances on the other end. For the most part, the puck was residing in the neutral zone. However, towards the end of the period the Bruins really put on a surge, but Quick was able to stand on his head and shut them down. Both Boston and Los Angeles were unsuccessful on the power play early on as well. Shots favored the Bruins 15-6 after the first 20 minutes.
“We played better as the period went on and started to get some chances,” said Sean Kuraly. “It is our job to play responsible hockey with the group of guys that we have out there, especially against a tough team like the one we were playing and it showed early on.”
In the second period, Charlie McAvoy got the Bruins on the board after tipping in a great feed from Patrice Bergeron. Several minutes later, the Kings were able to tie things up with the man advantage. Alex Iafallo blasted a one timer from the point that trickled in off Rask. Los Angeles later took the lead when Anze Kopitar was left by himself in front of the net and shot home his 17th goal of the season. Momentum had changed.
“You just have to expect the unexpected when it comes to the play making ability from Bergy out there,” said McAvoy regarding his goal. “I just wanted to be in the right spot to receive a pass and it ended up working out. Just a great play overall.”
In the third period, things started to shift back to Boston’s side. Danton Heinen shot a loose puck past Quick as he notched his 8th goal of the season to tie the game up. Moments later, David Krejci put the Bruins in front after a Torey Krug shot hit the post and the rebound found the stick of Krejci for an easy shot into an open goal. Despite Brad Marchand securing a short-handed goal, that did not halt hope for the Kings in this game.
The Kings rallied to score back-to-back goals to tie the game late in the period to force overtime. The Bruins could not get out of their own way and it led to them blowing another lead in the third period. However, it was then where Bergeron was able to cap off a three-point afternoon and blast home the game winner to secure the 5-4 victory for the Bruins.
“I do not think today was a total collapse,” said head coach Bruce Cassidy after the game. “It was not like it was a barrage and we were on our heels the whole time. But I was glad to see us rebound. We obviously do not want to give up a lead, but it did not cripple us. We kept playing and got the two points.”
The Bruins will be right back in action on Sunday afternoon when they play host to the Colorado Avalanche.
Roster for 2/9 vs. LAK
Forwards: Noel Acciari, David Backes, Patrice Bergeron, Peter Cehlarik, Jake DeBrusk, Danton Heinen, David Krejci, Sean Kuraly, Brad Marchand, Joakim Nordstrom, David Pastrnak, Chris Wagner
Defense: Brandon Carlo, Zdeno Chara, Torey Krug, Charlie McAvoy, Kevan Miller, John Moore
Goaltenders: Jaroslav Halak, Tuukka Rask
Side Notes: Matt Grzelcyk missed this game with a lower-body injury…David Pastrnak entered Saturday with a league-leading 15 power-play goals…Zdeno Chara entered this game just two goals shy of his 200th NHL goal, making him just the 21st defenseman in NHL history to reach that milestone…Patrice Bergeron recently skated in his 1,000th career NHL game…Steven Kampfer has now been a healthy scratch for the past 18 games…Boston split the season series last year against the Los Angeles Kings with the road team earning the victory in each game.