Boston, MA – The Boston Bruins got something from everyone as they held on to beat the Dallas Stars 4-3 in front of 17,850 at TD Garden. Nick Ritchie had a goal and an assist in his second game wearing a Bruins uniform, David Krejci had a Fighting major, while Jaroslav Halak stopped 31 of 34 shots.
Boston had the game’s first power play at 13:07 when former Bruin Tyler Seguin was whistled for Tripping. The league’s second best power play moved the puck around the Stars zone well but goalie Ben Bishop (24 saves) was sharp early.
Matt Grzelcyk was called for Hooking at 17:04 after he was over-powered by Stars forward Radek Faksa at the side of the Bruins net.
Joe Pavelski won the face-off back to John Klingberg at the blue line. The 6′-3″ Swede unloaded a wrist shot from the high-slot that was tipped past a screened Jaroslav Halak. Jamie Benn was credited with the goal after it originally went to Klingberg. The goal was Benn’s 300th NHL goal. (Admittedly it’s been switched back to Klingberg and then to Benn again so…)
A Slashing call on Dallas winger Andrew Cogliano put the Bruins back on the man advantage at 18:18.
Charlie Coyle batted in a Torey Krug rebound in front of Bishop in the Stars crease tying the game 1-1 at 19:45. The goal was Coyle’s 16th of the season. Krug and Brad Marchand were credited with the assists.
The Stars came out flying in the second, peppering Halak. First, forward Alexander Radulov was in for a backhanded bid in the crease that Halak got a pad on. Then defenseman Andrej Sekera hit the crossbar with a shot from the blue line.
Boston had a few chances of their own as David Krejci redirected a Jeremy Lauzon shot on Bishop.
At one point Par Lindholm threw the puck on net from the left side wall and beat Bishop through the legs but struck the far post.
Mattias Janmark was in alone on Halak off of a stretch pass but Halak got a piece of the puck. Shortly after Krejci threw down against Joe Pavelski, earning both matching Fighting penalties at 11:24.
“I felt like it was a little over the line towards me,” said Krejci of his third career fight and first since the 2011 season. “So I just tried to settle it down. It’s just one of those things,” said the Czech forward as he shrugged it off.
“It was big. The crowd was into that one,” said Ritchie. “To see two established veterans, good players as well, fight like that it’s good for the momentum.” Which swung the home team’s way.
Marchand broke the stalemate at 14:44 when he wristed a Charlie McAvoy cross-crease feed past Bishop for his 26th of the season. McAvoy had fanned on his own shot but kept possession and dished to a wide-open Marchand. David Pastrnak also assisted on the goal.
Just 1:17 later the newly acquired Ritchie notched his first goal as a member of the Bruins when his wrist shot from the high slot was redirected off of Seguin’s stick. Ritchie’s ninth of the season happened on his first shot as a Bruin. His brother Brett did the same against Dallas back in October when the Bruins won 2-1.
“I definitely played a better game,” said Ritchie. “The whole team did as well. We kind of blew it open there. That was probably the difference in the game, it was pretty close other than that. We capitalize there and they couldn’t really get back in it.”
The chippiness continued when Krejci was knocked down by Janmark after the whistle blew. Chris Wagner took exception to the shove and jumped Janmark. Wagner was sent to the box for Roughing at 18:49.
Dallas cut the lead to 3-2 at 1:18 of the third when Denis Gurianov redirected a Esa Lindell slapshot past Halak. Jason Dickinson was also credited with an assist on Gurianov’s 19th goal.
Pastrnak and Ritchie combined to make it a two goal lead again at 3:53. Pastrnak fed Ritchie at the Stars blue line then crashed the net as Ritchie dished back to him at the right post. the goal was Pastrnak’s NHL best 46th goal.
Dallas pulled Bishop at 2:45 with the face-off in the Boston zone. Boston was unable to capitalize on the empty net due to solid stick work by the Stars. With the extra attacker the Stars moved the puck quickly up to the Bruins end of the ice. Nifty passing from Pavelski at the Bruins blue line to a streaking Seguin who fired a pass to Benn at the bottom of the right circle. Benn fed Miro Heiskanen at the left post. Halak made the initial save but the rebound caromed off of Chara’s skate and into the Bruins net at 17:36. The goal was Heiskanen’s eighth of the season.
With Bishop again on the bench for the extra skater the Bruins held on to close out the game 4-3. Dallas outshot Boston 34-28, had a slight edge on the face-off battle 28-27 but it was the Bruins who came away with the two points for the league best 92nd.
“It certainly woke us up,” said Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy on Krejci’s fight. “Not that I felt we didn’t have it early on, but gave us a little extra juice. Let’s put it that way.”
“He’s had a couple of days to acclimate a little bit,” added Cassidy of Ritchie’s game. “I’m not going to say he’s going to get two points every night, but he’ll probably be somewhere in between there and that’s what we expect out of him. A bigger body, especially in this type of game I thought. They’re a heavy team, they finish checks and you’ve got to work to get to the net. And I thought he did a real good job with that.”
Despite the loss the message from the Dallas side was equally as positive.
“I thought we battled very hard. Clearly we can’t give up four goals, and the two tap ins at the
bottom were a lot. But, I thought we did a lot of really good things out there. That’s the best team in the league, and we battled it for sixty minutes,” said head coach Rick Bowness.
“We did a lot of good things. If that’s the measuring stick, that they’re the best team, we can play with them. We can play with anyone, we just have to stay with the program for a full sixty minutes,” said Bowness.
The Stars, now 37-21-6, good for third place in the Central Division, travel to St. Louis for a Saturday night tilt against the first place Blues. Puck drop is at 8:00 pm EST.
The Bruins meanwhile have a Saturday matinee against the New York Islanders on Long Island at Nassau Coliseum at 1:00 pm EST.