BOSTON, MA – It truly is ironic that we just celebrated Halloween. This Boston Bruins’ team has been dressing up and playing as someone else. There is no need to be frightened or spooked, though; the new identity/costume worn as of late still flashes black and gold for colors.
Despite dropping the first three games of the regular season, the Bruins have been on a tear. They are 6-0-1 in their last seven games and still remain unbeaten (5-0-0) on the road. However, Tuesday night was a home game and it was a matchup that proved to be a great test for Boston.
The B’s welcomed old friend Tyler Seguin and the rest of the Dallas Stars into the TD Garden. This game had the potential to be a high-octane affair with goals aplenty. The Bruins do possess the league’s best power play at 35.3%, but the Stars are right there with the B’s, ranking third in the NHL at 25%.
Defense optional? Goaltending target practice? The setup suggests such results.
Boston was coming off a huge back-to-back set on the road when the team knocked off both the Florida Panthers and the Tampa Bay Lightning by identical 3-1 scores. Dallas was in a little bit more of a tiring situation. The Stars were in action on Monday night against the Toronto Maple Leafs, a game that resulted in a loss for Dallas.
Even after failing to secure two points north of the border, the Stars are leading a very competitive Central Division and Western Conference with 18 points as of Tuesday night. With the key offseason acquisitions of Patrick Sharp, Johnny Oduya and Antti Niemi, Dallas is equipped to put together a season that could result in a lengthy playoff run. Jamie Benn—the current points leader in the league—will take this team as far as he can.
This night was not all about the opposition. The Bruins have their own Art Ross Trophy candidate in David Krejci. To accompany his offense, Tuukka Rask has turned things around between the pipes. We definitely seem to have our team back, but establishing a home-ice advantage is vital. The hope was that it would start on this night.
Rask (3-3-1, 3.29 GAA, .889 SV %) was back in goal for the Bruins on this night as he opposed Kari Lehtonen (3-1-0, 3.00 GAA, .898 SV %).
The Bruins were hoping for a fast start, but the momentum was halted early in the first period. Chris Kelly took a nasty slash, causing him to bend awkwardly and injuring his leg. He did not return to the game. It was later revealed that he suffered a fractured femur and will be out six-to-eight months, all but ending his season. Tough break…and no pun intended.
“We hopefully have to try and compensate for his loss,” said Bruins’ head coach Claude Julien. “He is well respected by his teammates and in the locker room. It is a tough loss and no doubt he will be missed.”
Down a man early, the B’s put the pressure on Dallas. They racked up six-straight shots on goal before the Stars recorded their first. It just so happened that the first shot Rask faced turned into the opening tally. And who else? Seguin blasted the puck through Rask to give the Stars the early lead. That goal was Seguin’s 300th career point.
The Bruins answered right back minutes later when Colin Miller one-timed the puck past Lehtonen, signifying his first-career NHL goal. The kid is a stud of a player and we will continue to see more offense from him throughout his bright career.
“It was real nice to get that one out of the way, so now I don’t have to worry about it anymore,” said Miller regarding his milestone. “It was a quick play off the draw so I just went for it and I was happy it went in.”
The pressure picked up again for Boston as the game was being controlled along the boards by the Black and Gold. Dallas ended up committing a late penalty, which led to a power-play goal by the Bruins. Loui Eriksson cleaned up the puck in front of the net to give his team the 2-1 lead after 20 minutes. Some sweet vindication against his former team was an added bonus.
In the second period, the fore-checking was strong for Boston (specifically from Jimmy Hayes and Matt Beleskey). That duo has been playing well as of late, so it was great to see the two new faces clicking together. The fore-checking could not slow down the Dallas power play, especially when you have two of the top point accumulators in the league on the same unit.
Seguin netted his second of the game to tie things up. The goal resulted from a hooking penalty on Brett Connolly, who struggled all game long with protecting the puck and playing tight in the defensive zone. That goal turned the tides for the Stars as they started racking up the shots on Rask. The Stars ended up tying the Bruins in shots on goal with nine each in the second period compared to trailing 15-6 in the opening period. A late goal from Jyrki Jokipakka–another player recording his first-career NHL goal on this night–gave the opposition a 3-2 lead entering the third period.
Knowing that the surge was coming, the Bruins braced for another dose of Dallas offense courtesy of Seguin. He scored his second power-play goal and third overall for the game. Nothing could be done to stop the bleeding. Lots of mistakes and costly penalties proved to be the difference in this one.
The Bruins dropped this game by a final score of 5-3 and continue to struggle on home ice. Their four-game winning streak is now snapped.
“It really is not good enough,” said Eriksson regarding the team’s shaky penalty killing. “We cannot keep allowing other teams to score like that. We just have to be better.”
Luckily, the B’s will head back out on the road for three straight, beginning on Thursday night when they face the Washington Capitals.
Lineup for Tuesday, Nov. 3 vs. Dallas
Loui Eriksson-David Krejci-Alexander Khokhlachev
Brad Marchand-Patrice Bergeron-Brett Connolly
Matt Beleskey-Ryan Spooner-Jimmy Hayes
Zac Rinaldo-Joonas Kemppainen-Chris Kelly
Zdeno Chara-Colin Miller
Torey Krug-Adam McQuaid
Joe Morrow-Kevan Miller
Side Notes: Zach Trotman was a healthy scratch for the 10th consecutive game. He has not seen action since the opening night loss to the Winnipeg Jets…..Dennis Seidenberg is entering the sixth week of his recovery. His original timetable for a return from offseason back surgery was eight weeks…..Brett Connolly and Brad Marchand entered Tuesday with five-game and six-game point streaks, respectfully…..David Pastrnak missed this game due to a foot injury…..Alexander Khokhlachev was recalled from Providence earlier in the day and joined the Bruins for this game. This was his season debut.