BOSTON – Who were those guys that dressed in the Black and Gold sweaters this past Thursday night? Were they the Boston Bruins? Regardless of who showed up that night, it was as if there was a different team out on TD Garden ice.
The Bruins have found resurgence, even if it only lasted for one game spread out over the course of approximately three hours. Bruce Cassidy pushed the right buttons and made enough in-game adjustments that resulted in a full 60-minute performance in Thursday’s 6-3 shellacking of the San Jose Sharks. In terms of his tenure as B’s interim head coach, not a bad start whatsoever.
Now that they got the first one out of the way, the Bruins were looking to carry over that momentum into Saturday afternoon’s matinee against the Vancouver Canucks.
It is too bad that the semi-rivalry that once existed between these two teams lost its “oomph,” for a lack of a better phrase. The Bruins and Canucks crossed paths in one of the most memorable Stanley Cup Finals in history. We all remember what happened at the conclusion of those seven games during the spring of 2011: Boston won the Stanley Cup.
The one drawback about the inter-conference games is that they exist far less frequently during the regular season. For this season, the Bruins and Canucks have different end goals; Boston is looking to make the playoffs while Vancouver is preparing for the draft lottery. Also, the Canucks are in the midst of a six-game road trip. With the Bruins just a couple games away from their much needed bye week, things were set up perfectly for them to thrive on Saturday.
Anton Khudobin (1-5-1, 3.06 GAA, .885 SV%) opposed Ryan Miller (15-14-3, 2.56 GAA, .918 SV%) in the goaltender matchup. The netminders were slated to be key factors in the outcome of this tilt.
In the first period, the Bruins got off to a slow and sloppy start. When you ice the puck as much as both teams did so early in the game, it negates any sort of momentum. A turnover by David Pastrnak led to an odd-man rush up ice for Vancouver and Bo Horvat was able to poke the puck past Khudobin for the 1-0 lead. The Canucks were all over the loose rebounds in front of the net, and there were plenty of them.
Kevan Miller tied the game by netting his second goal of the season off a nice feed from Ryan Spooner. The Bruins had the Canucks reeling at that point as they forced Vancouver to take a couple minor penalties. Just before the end of the period, Frank Vatrano blasted home a power-play goal to give the B’s a 2-1 lead after 20 minutes. Shots were 16-8 in favor of Boston.
“We just did our job today,” said Vatrano, who ended up finishing the game with three points. “It was an all-around effort for all of the guys that were out on the ice. We competed all game.”
In a rather uneventful second period where the Canucks were able to generate a bit more offense, Khudobin was there in the clutch to come up with some big saves. However, Alex Burrows evened the game with less than a second on the clock to cap off a late surge by the visiting team.
“I felt that we became disrespectful to the game,” said Cassidy. “It was good in a way to get scored on because it gave us a chance to battle back.”
Colin Miller started out the third period with a bang as he unloaded a rocket from the top of the zone that zipped past R. Miller.
“The guys up front did a great job to give me the time in space and I just walked in with it,” said C. Miller regarding his goal.
The remainder of the period was a back-and-forth affair. Those sequences began when Markus Granlund netted a power-play goal with traffic in front to tie things up. With exactly two minutes left in regulation, Pastrnak stormed to the net and beat the last line of defense for Vancouver to put the Bruins ahead.
That turned out to be the eventual game winner as the Bruins knocked off the Canucks by a final score of 4-3. It was not pretty and by no means a tight effort, but the Bruins came away with two points. Khudobin finished the day with 29 saves.
“He had a very strong game and he gave us a chance to win,” said Cassidy regarding his goaltender. “We had a couple breakdowns but it was good that we were able to get him the win.”
The Bruins will be right back in action this coming Sunday night when they host the Montreal Canadiens.
Lineup for 2/11 vs. VAN
Brad Marchand-Patrice Bergeron-David Backes
Peter Cehlarik-David Krejci-David Pastrnak
Frank Vatrano-Ryan Spooner-Jimmy Hayes
Tim Schaller-Dominic Moore-Riley Nash
Zdeno Chara-Brandon Carlo
Torey Krug-Adam McQuaid
Kevan Miller-Colin Miller
Side Notes…Zdeno Chara made his return to the lineup after missing Thursday’s game with an undisclosed illness…Peter Cehlarik was recalled from Providence earlier in the week and made his NHL debut in this game…Patrice Bergeron entered Saturday just one assist shy of his 400th NHL assist…Brad Marchand recorded seven goals and five assists (12 points) in his last six games before Saturday…The Bruins are now 6-5-1 in their last 12 games overall vs. the Canucks and are now 4-3-1 in their last eight between these two teams in Boston.