GOLD STAR: Tuukka Rask trudged through most of March with a pretty average body of work, but he’s turned it up at the end of the month with the playoffs just a couple of weeks away. Rask was at his best in the first period stopping 11 pucks with a handful of quality scoring chances for the Wild, including a point blank stop on a Ryan Murphy shot after a Rask turnover behind the net and a post-to-post outstretched glove save on a Matt Dumba backhander during a Minnesota power play possession. Just minutes later Rask shut down Matt Cullen as well with a big leg pad save on another open chance from the front of the net. The shots on net went down as the game went along, but Rask continued to be very good aside from one long rebound off the end boards that Mikko Koivu beat him to in the crease area for the game-tying goal in the third period. In all Rask stopped 24-of-25 shots and was excellent for the second game in a row after stopping 40 shots against the Dallas Stars on Friday night. That’s a good sign down the stretch for the Black and Gold.
BLACK EYE: A tough night for Massachusetts homeboy Charlie Coyle, who was on the ice for both of the goals scored against the Bruins and didn’t finish with a single shot on net. Instead Coyle had just a single missed shot and won 3-of-4 face-offs in his 17:11 of ice time and was the single forward left on the ice in 3-on-3 overtime when the Wild got burned by Brad Marchand’s overtime heroics. Clearly it was a pretty well-played game by a couple of teams that should be in the playoffs, so there weren’t a whole lot of weak links on either side. But Coyle is an important player for Minnesota, and was a complete non-factor for them aside from being on the puck when the puck was going in their net. That’s never a very good thing.
TURNING POINT: It was all about overtime for the Bruins as it took a grand total of 38 seconds for Marchand to score his NHL-leading fifth overtime goal this season. He took an excellent lead pass from Torey Krug that allowed him to enter the Minnesota zone with some speed and momentum, and he simply fired off the perfect shot off the inside of the far post on a goal that Alex Stalock probably wishes that he could have back. For Marchand, though, it was another piece of proof that he’s a force to be reckoned with during 3-on-3 play in overtime, and that NHL coaches may need to go back to the drawing board after Minnesota going with three defensemen against Marchand in the extra session didn’t work out too well for the Wild.
HONORABLE MENTION: Who else but Brad Marchand? The Nose Face Killah buried the Wild in the overtime with his fifth OT winner of the season, which leads the league, also picked up an assist on Boston’s first goal in the second period. Marchand was a dominant force throughout the game, but was very good with the goal, two points and the plus-2 rating in 19:18 of ice time. He also picked up right where things left off with Patrice Bergeron and David Pastrnak in the chemistry department as they dominated on the ice, and played the kind of powerful two-way hockey that was an every game occurrence for them before injuries broke them apart for the last month. Marchand also leads the Bruins with 80 points and 33 goals on the season, and would be smack dab in the middle of the Hart Trophy race if he hadn’t missed time to injuries and suspension.
BY THE NUMBERS: 14-for-23 – the face-off performance for Patrice Bergeron in his first game back after missing the last month that allowed the Bruins to get back to their normal state of controlling play from the face-off dot after struggling when No. 37 was out.
QUOTE TO NOTE: “Their line definitely does [have the puck possession]. Even it’s a 50/50 puck battle they’re strong to win those pucks. They’re hard to play against because of that. They have the puck a lot, and when they do they’re dangerous, and they’re hard on it.” –Bruce Cassidy, on the reunited Bruins top line of Brad Marchand, Patrice Bergeron and David Pastrnak once again showing that dominant puck possession game in supplying both goals in a 2-1 win over the Wild.