BOSTON – It was imperative that the Bruins take advantage of a late season game against a hockey club playing out the string in the Dallas Stars, and that’s exactly what they did on Thursday night.
Behind goals in the first and second period and a smart, sound brand of hockey from the Black and Gold, the Bruins took a 2-0 victory over the Stars at TD Garden to make it three wins in a row for them. The ‘W’ also improved the Bruins to 9-3-0 in 12 games on home ice under Bruce Cassidy where they’ll be playing four of the final five games played this season.
The Bruins jumped on the board late in the first period when the Patrice Bergeron line exerted some pressure on the Dallas defense, and David Backes stripped Stephen Johns at the Stars defensive blue line. He moved the puck toward the front of the net, and Brad Marchand took it from there flicking a shot off Antti Niemi sprawling out in the crease.
It was Marchand’s career-high 38th goal of the season and snapped a five game goalless streak for Boston’s most dangerous offensive player at a time of year when his team needs him to crank it up to full power.
The Bruins doubled their advantage in the second period on an early power play when David Pastrnak connected with Torey Krug sneaking in the backdoor. Krug tapped it past Niemi and the Bruins had a comfortable two-goal lead that they effectively sat on for the rest of the game.
Tuukka Rask was strong for the Bruins as well, and earned his seventh shutout of the season while making 27 saves, and enjoying another very sound defensive effort in front of him.
Here are all the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading while the Bruins are going into troll mode.
*Here is the aforementioned “troll mode” for the Bruins now that they’ve clinched a playoff berth. They came out with a marketing campaign where they’re dragging FOH (Friend of Haggs) Mike Felger for his early season take that the Bruins season is over. He also ripped the young players at the beginning of the year as well, so they used the sound from “Felger and Mazz” with video clips of David Pastrnak and Charlie McAvoy dominating for the Black and Gold, and shots of the young players mean mugging at the camera. It definitely shows that the Bruins perhaps care a little too much about what the media thinks about them, but it’s also a fair bit of clap-back toward a take that was a little too harsh on the B’s early in the season.
*What a great piece on the Stoneman Douglas hockey team as they embark on a national hockey tournament after winning at the state level in the weeks after the Parkland shooting.
*Chicago Blackhawks GM Stan Bowman says the Hawks aren’t shaken even as they’ll be missing the playoffs for the first time in a long time. What a disappointing season.
*Despite a great season, Taylor Hall may end up missing the playoffs with the New Jersey Devils amidst his Hart Trophy-type season.
*Good news for the Toronto Maple Leafs as Auston Matthews is returning from injury ahead of the playoffs.
*For something completely different: This new, updated version of the Karate Kid web series looks awesome with Billy Zabka and Ralph Macchio.
Bruins star center Patrice Bergeron has been dealing with a fractured foot injury since late February. He sustained the injury while blocking a shot in the loss to the Toronto Maple Leafs.
Coach Bruce Cassidy is predicting a return for Bergeron this weekend against the Minnesota Wild if he is medically cleared. He will be evaluated tomorrow.
Depending on the results from the evaluation, there might not even be a need to rush Bergeron back with the Bruins clinching a playoff berth in a 2-1 OT loss to the Blues yesterday evening.
MORE BRUINS: Bruins clinch playoff berth in 2-1 OT loss to Blues
The Bruins currently sit six points behind the Tampa Bay Lighting for first place in the Atlantic Division. Ten games currently remain on the B’s schedule with the Presidents' Trophy also hanging in the balance.
If the B’s decide to make a run for the Presidents' Trophy, Bergeron would definitely provide a boost in play in addition to leadership for the final stretch of the regular season.