GOLD STAR: David Krejci continues to look like a different player with a top flight power forward like Rick Nash by his side. Krejci got his first hat trick in exactly six years for the Bruins, and has helped power the Bruins offense without Patrice Bergeron in the lineup for the last couple of games. Krejci finished with the three goals, a plus-1 rating in 16:25 of ice time, three shots on net, five shot attempts, one hit and a 6-for-15 performance in the face-off circle. Most impressive was probably his two power play goals that really helped the man advantage get back on track, and were scored because he was going hard to the net where the goals are scored at this time of year. The biggest reason the Bruins performed this way against the Penguins sans Bergeron is because Krejci came to play.
BLACK EYE: Casey DeSmith was brutal while trying to step in for the injured Matt Murray and it really sunk the Bruins before they could even get going. DeSmith gave up three goals on the first five shots that he faced and was out of the game before the six minute mark in the first period. Certainly the Penguins weren’t very good in front of their backup goaltender either, but it can’t give Pittsburgh much hope they can excel without their No. 1 when the two backups are giving up five goals in the first period to the Boston Bruins. It’s a tough break for the former UNH goalie that’s getting his chance in the NHL right now, but Mike Sullivan had seen enough after a couple of fluky goals got by him early in the game. That can’t happen at this time of year, and a young goalie won’t get the benefit of the doubt like Tuukka Rask got with Bruce Cassidy after his own tough first period.
TURNING POINT: The Bruins could have been in a tough spot after allowing a goal in the final seconds of the first period that closed it to a two-goal game for the Penguins. Tuukka Rask wasn’t very good in the opening 20 minutes and it appeared no lead was going to be safe with the fire-wagon hockey that was going on between both sides. But Brian Dumoulin took a holding call just 28 seconds into the second period and the Bruins power play made the Penguins pay like they really haven’t over the last month. Jake DeBrusk worked to keep a puck alive in the offensive end, and Nick Holden found David Krejci wide open in front for a goal that again widened things to a three-goal lead. The Bruins never really looked back again after that.
HONORABLE MENTION: David Pastrnak had been pretty quiet offensively as of late, but it was incumbent on him to step up now that Patrice Bergeron is going to be out of the lineup for a little while. That’s exactly what he did on Thursday night while scoring a pair of goals, notching three points, a plus-1 rating and nine shot attempts in 15:13 of ice time for the Bruins. It was his fluttering, fluke goal in the first period that eventually helped chase Casey DeSmith from the game, and it was No. 88 that again punctuated things late in the proceedings when the Bruins were piling up the offensive numbers. The real encouraging thing was that Pastrnak wasn’t just scoring, but battling for pucks and tossing his weight around a little in a very physical game against the Penguins.
BY THE NUMBERS: 300 – the number of career assists for Brian Gionta after his first helper on the David Backes goal in the first period. Gionta finished with two assists in the game, so now he has 301 apples in his extensive NHL career.
QUOTE TO NOTE: “They’ve fit in seamlessly. You’ve got veteran guys that have been in other locker rooms. I can’t speak to whether they’re good or bad or in different locker rooms. I know that ours is terrific when it comes to our leadership. I think our young guys have really helped it, as well because they bring a lot of energy. They all have their own personality, but they’re respectful. They want to learn from these veteran guys. So [We’ve got] that mix in there.” –Bruce Cassidy, on how the new guys have worked into the Bruins mix since the trade deadline.
GOLD STAR: Jaden Schwartz stepped up and won the game for the Blues with a couple of really good plays in the third period and overtime. He took advantage of a line change and a lax Bruins defense to snap a shot past Anton Khudobin from the face-off circle in the third period that tied up the game, and then went on a one-man rush in overtime before blasting a puck past Khudobin for the game-winner on a beautiful individual play. Schwartz finished with the two goals that represented all of the St. Louis offense, four shots on net, a hit and a takeaway in 20:02 of ice time while logging a plus-2 rating as well. The Blues clearly needed somebody to step up to the plate with Vladimir Tarasenko and the Schwartz was with St. Louis on Wednesday night.
BLACK EYE: The Bruins were quite literally black and blue after a physical, punishing game with the St. Louis Blues. A number of players took heavy hits against a St. Louis team that felt free to throw hits and take runs with Zdeno Chara and David Backes out of Boston’s lineup among other players, and that culminated with Brayden Schenn drilling David Krejci in the second period. It was a hit that earned Schenn a two minute penalty for charging midway through the period, but shouldn’t result in anything more for the Blues forward. The hit wasn’t late, his skates were on the ice when he made contact, and Krejci was crouched down when Schenn made impact on a heavy check with his elbows tucked in, so it looked like a relatively clean hit that isn’t going to be on the radar of the NHL’s Player Safety Department. That physicality for the Blues really seemed to slow down the Bruins a little bit as things went on over the 60 plus minutes of the overtime game.
TURNING POINT: The Bruins actually only got outshot by a 15-13 margin in the second period, third period and overtime, but it was clear that they slowed down in terms of attacking and creating chances as things moved on in the game. By the latter half of the game the Bruins were simply trying to hang on to their one-goal lead, and then after that simply trying to hang in there for the point earned by getting to overtime. They managed to do it, but it was a different wave of momentum in the game once the Blues tied things up in the third period on Schwartz’s first goal. After that the Bruins were scrambling and hanging on, and did just enough to hang in there for a single overtime point for the second game in a row.
HONORABLE MENTION: Ryan Donato made it two goals in two games when he stepped into a loose puck created by an Alex Pietrangelo turnover that bounced off referee Brad Watson after he attempted to throw a puck up the middle of the ice. Donato pounced on the fortuitous bounce and rocked a puck on edge past Jake Allen for the game’s first goal and another affirmation that the 21-year-old can both shoot and score. Donato was pretty quiet after that goal, of course, with a couple of shots on net, but it seemed like a big, heavy hit on him by Dmitri Jaskin in the second period kind of quieted the youngster down a little bit. Still, you’ve got to love the production from a player just getting his feet wet at the NHL level.
BY THE NUMBERS: 100 – The number of points for the Bruins after falling in overtime by a 2-1 score to the Blues, and in getting to the century mark the B’s clinched a playoff spot for the second season in a row.
QUOTE TO NOTE: “It’s step one. Going into the season we wanted to make the playoffs and be a Stanley Cup contender. Right now we got in and we’re going to be a contender, right? Now it’s about being in the best position possible going forward.” –Bruce Cassidy, to reporters in St. Louis about clinching the playoff spot on Wednesday night.
With a playoff berth in-hand, the Boston Bruins celebrated on Instagram with a playful video about their fans.
The short video put their fans into categories: the hugger, the faithful, the screamer, the loose cannon, the comfortable commentator and the emotional trainwreck.
No matter how the devotees enjoy Bruins games, they can all unit over their hockey team. Here's the vide for your enjoyment.