Rask, Bruins stand tall in 3-2 victory vs Lightning

Rask, Bruins stand tall in 3-2 victory vs Lightning

BOSTON – The Bruins had a tall order in front of them taking on the most explosive team in the NHL and doing it with Tuukka Rask in the net. A goaltender that has struggled for the balance of this season. But the Black and Gold surprised as they’ve made a habit of doing at points this season, and made a bold statement in taking out the Lightning in a 3-2 win over the Atlantic Division leaders at TD Garden on Wednesday night.

The B’s were all over the Bolts in the first period while outshooting Tampa Bay by a 19-6 margin, putting a couple of scores on the board against a Lightning team that was slow out of the gate playing on the second night of a back-to-back.

Charlie McAvoy scored his third of the year on a point blast with traffic in front, but the goal was initially called back due to goaltender interference on Brad Marchand.  A coach’s challenge overturned the original no-goal call on the ice, and momentum fell in the Bruins direction.

The first goal was followed with a wicked Riley Nash wrist shot that found the back of the net, thanks to a slick set-up from Danton Heinen. The Bruins went into the first intermission rolling with a two-goal lead. The Black and Gold extended their lead to three goals in the second period when D-man Torey Krug smoked a one-timer blast past Andrei Vasilevskiy, after Ryan Spooner dangled though a pair of Tampa defenders before finding the open D-man all alone in the face-off circle. Tampa fought back and scratched for one in the second on an Andrej Sustr blast from the point, but couldn’t get more despite a close call with a Tyler Johnson net drive off the post. Steve Stamkos closed it to a one-goal game in the third on a cross-ice pass from Nikita Kucherov in the opening seconds of the final stanza.

But that was all the Lightning could muster and they would eventually fall to the Bruins. Tampa has now lost four of their last six games in their first slide of the season.

Rask made eight of his 19 saves in the game during the third period protecting a tight one-goal lead, and captured his first win since the beginning of November to push his record up to 4-8-2 on the season. None of the rest of Rask’s 19 stops were as big as his second period leg pad stop on a Kucherov one-time, sweeping wrist shot in the closing seconds of the middle period that would have been a crushing, momentum-shifting score had he not stopped it.  


McQuaid makes impact in return to B's lineup after lengthy absence


McQuaid makes impact in return to B's lineup after lengthy absence

BOSTON – Adam McQuaid had to wait months to get healthy and weeks to finally push back into the lineup once he was over his broken leg, but that was all in the rear view mirror when he made his return to the B’s lineup on Wednesday night. McQuaid was his solid, simple self on the ice in Boston’s 4-1 humbling of the Montreal Canadiens at TD Garden, and immediately made an impact with his size, strength, physicality and penalty killing in the win.


Afterward McQuaid was happy with the plus-1 rating in 15:12 of ice time while working mostly with rookie Matt Grzelcyk, and he even managed to get four pucks on net while playing assertive, aggressive hockey in the O-Zone. All in all it was a strong return after missing the past 36 games with a broken leg, and it was a much needed dose of again feeling like he’s a part of the team for the selfless, hard-working McQuaid.  

“I wasn’t sure what to expect. I just went with the first shift and then the second, and just went down from there. I wanted to try to keep things really simple, Grizz [Matt Grzelcyk] made life pretty easy to play with…he played really well,” said McQuaid. “All the guys did, so it was nice to be back and be a part of the win, I’m happy to be back.

“It’s nice to be in those situations – you don’t want to be – to be put in that situation. I think guys thrive off of wanting to kill that and be in those situations. Even though I was a little winded at the end of it, it was a good feeling for sure.”

The part that winded McQuaid was killing off a key 5-on-3 Canadiens power play in a tight, one goal game in the second period. McQuaid was second only to Zdeno Chara with his 1:34 of shorthanded ice time in the win over the Bruins, and the PK is clearly a situation where the rich get richer when the shot-blocking, rugged McQuaid draws back into the fold with Kevan Miller “under the weather” this week. 

“We did a good job, real good job [on the penalty kill]. It doesn’t surprise me,” said Bruins head coach Bruce Cassidy. “Adam [McQuaid] is very good on the kill. We’ve said that all along, that’s one area we miss when he is out of the lineup.”

Now McQuaid will continue knocking any residual rust off by again drawing into Boston’s lineup on Thursday night in Brooklyn as Miller was left behind in Boston, and a respected B’s veteran is finally getting some run after a long wait. 


Morning Skate: PK Subban rightly recognizes O'Ree as a hockey pioneer


Morning Skate: PK Subban rightly recognizes O'Ree as a hockey pioneer

Here are all the hockey links from around the world, and what I’m reading, while wondering when my video tribute is coming.

*Great interview with PK Subban, who appropriately lauds Willie O’Ree for his trailblazing, pioneer accomplishment of breaking through the NHL’s color barrier 60 years ago today. It was very cool that O’Ree did it with the Bruins and even cooler that he was in Boston last night from the Bruins-Habs game at TD Garden.

*Speaking of the Canadiens, old friend Joe Morrow decided to show the Canadiens digital people around Southie this week. That was his big accomplishment in these last two Bruins-Habs games.

*The Winnipeg Jets are having some big success this season, but they’ve also got some serious financial considerations coming up.

*The Colorado Avalanche continue to see attendance issues in their building, but at least there’s a reasonably better product on the ice.

*What is the value for power forward Patrick Maroon on the trade market as a rental? It certainly matters who is asking.

*Jack Johnson and John Tortorella are talking out their issues after it surfaced that the Columbus D-man wants a trade out of town.

*With Victor Hedman injured, it looks like young Tampa Bay D-man Slater Koekkoek is finally going to get a featured look with the Lightning. Per Elliotte Friedman, this is a player that the Bruins have eyed in trade possibilities in the recent past.

*For something completely different: Liam Neeson is open to returning as Qui Gon-Jinn, which adds another interesting piece to a standalone movie for Obi-Wan Kenobi.