BOSTON – Thanksgiving here in the United States has come and gone. The Boston Bruins have an awful lot to be thankful for.
Currently hovering around a playoff spot in the Eastern Conference, the Bruins have successfully attained the short-term goal that every team around the National Hockey League seeks: being in postseason position by the end of November. While it is almost time to shave off the moustaches, perhaps the string of bad luck in terms of injuries to this team will get washed down the drain as well.
The Bruins played host to the Pittsburgh Penguins on a primetime stage for this year’s Black Friday game. It was good to see the Black and Gold back on home ice for the first time since returning from a four-game road trip.
The Penguins are not exactly the juggernaut we are used to seeing from year to year. They are actually one of the worst teams in the Eastern Conference this season, which is hard to imagine considering the potency of talent on the roster. They have had their fair share of injuries as well, but the Bruins should be in no position to fill sympathetic for Pittsburgh.
In fact, perhaps both teams can commiserate together? If so, it certainly would not be until after the 60 minutes of hockey were played.
Jaroslav Halak opposed Tristan Jarry in the goaltending matchup for this always entertaining tilt. Also, this was Kevan Miller’s second game back after missing significant time with a hand injury. He was just one of several reinforcements that were on the way and they could not have come at a better time.
In the first period, the Bruins skated circles around the Penguins. The inexperience of Jarry was evident as he had a couple mindboggling turnovers in his own zone. This also helped Boston put immense pressure on the opposition and made it very difficult for Pittsburgh to skate the puck cleanly out of their own zone. The B’s made simple plays and were responsible with the puck in order to get some good scoring chances. Overall, not a bad start for Boston. Shots were 12-9 in favor of the home team after the first 20 minutes.
Evgeni Malkin finally broke open the scoring in the second period. He blasted a one timer from the point on the power play that went right past the glove of Halak. The Bruins were able to reciprocate several minutes later when Jake DeBrusk scored his ninth goal of the season to even the game. David Krejci and Kevan Miller picked up the assists on the play. The score was a great indication at just how evenly played the second period truly was on this night. Halak came up with some key stops to keep his team right in the thick of things.
In the third period, neither team was able to sustain momentum for extended periods of time due to several stoppages in play. The scoring chances were slim to none. It was unfortunate because it appeared that both Boston and Pittsburgh were looking to just secure a point in regulation and there was no real sense of urgency.
Joakim Nordstrom ended the game in overtime after tipping home a one-time blast by Torey Krug. The Bruins were able to take the full two points on a night where they deserved the win. Halak finished the game with 36 saves.
The Bruins will head back out on the road this coming Saturday night when they take on the Montreal Canadiens.
Roster for 11/23 vs. PIT
Forwards: Noel Acciari, David Backes, Colby Cave, Jake DeBrusk, Jakob Forsbacka Karlsson, Danton Heinen, David Krejci, Sean Kuraly, Bran Marchand, Joakim Nordstrom, David Pastrnak, Chris Wagner
Defense: Connor Clifton, Matt Grzelcyk, Torey Krug, Jeremy Lauzon, Kevan Miller, John Moore
Goaltenders: Jaroslav Halak, Tuukka Rask
Side Notes: Brandon Carlo, Charlie McAvoy, and Urho Vaakanainen resumed skating earlier in the week and are eyeing returns in the near future…Zdeno Chara will miss the next four-to-six weeks with a knee injury…Patrice Bergeron will be out of the lineup for at least four weeks after suffering a rib and sternoclavicular injury back on November 16 against the Dallas Stars…David Krejci is now tied with Peter McNab for 11th place on Boston’s all-time scoring list with 587 points…The Bruins concluded Friday night with a 8-0-1 record in their last nine home games vs. the Penguins.