GOLD STAR: After missing 16 games and the past month-plus, it was Patrice Bergeron’s turn to shine as he scored a pair of goals and added up four points in Boston’s win over Nashville. The first goal was pure Bergeron on the power play as he pulled a double move in the slot and completely faked out Pekka Rinne. The second was a shoveled rebound while crashing the net for a loose puck. Bergeron played a little less than usual with only 16-plus minutes of ice time, but he was still playing in every situation and out there for all the big face-offs - taking 25 of them. Getting your best player back is a big difference-maker for every team, and Bergeron proved it once again he's the B's best while showing virtually no rust out there.
BLACK EYE: Ryan Johansen did score a goal for the Predators, but otherwise he was completely held down by the Bruins defense. It was to the point where Nashville was trying to get him on the ice when Bergeron’s line wasn’t out there, and it showed with a minus-2, just the one shot on net that accounted for the goal and only 7-for-16 performance in the face-off circle. As much as anything else, the proof of Bergeron’s impact is being able to shut down the other team’s elite players and eliminate the strength of an opponent. When Bergeron was out, the Sabres' Jack Eichel dominated the Bruins and ended up winning the game for Buffalo. When Bergeron was back in, he was able to turn Ryan Johansen into a ghost on the ice.
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TURNING POINT: The Bruins had a 5-on-3 to start the third period thanks to a dumb play by Mattias Ekholm where he slammed David Pastrnak right in the chops as the buzzer sounded at the end of the second period. The Bruins already were on the power play, so they had 1:05 of two-man advantage to start the third with the score tied at 1. They didn’t score in the 5-on-3, but did eventually score on the plain old power play to take a 2-1 lead less than two minutes into the final frame. That allowed them to pull away from a Predators team that had hung in there for 40 minutes. Nashville tied it once more, but then the Bruins scored three unanswered goals.
HONORABLE MENTION: Zac Rinaldo somehow manages to stay in the NHL without any discernible skill and played 7:41 of ice time for the Predators. He also managed to not cheap shot anybody or take any bad penalties in his brief stay on the ice in addition to being a complete non-factor. The fact that the Bruins actually gave up a third-round pick for that guy still astounds me. Certainly, you’re willing assets and draft picks for a tough guy who can intimidate, be a good teammate and defend your team’s best players. But Rinaldo was never that kind of animal and now basically plays a fourth-line role while bringing very little to the table.
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BY THE NUMBERS: 2 – the number of assists for Jaroslav Halak this season after he picked one up on Sean Kuraly’s empty-netter late in the third.
QUOTE TO NOTE: "The ref came back to the bench with the puck and I said 'No, I don't think that one is for me.' That's how much I know my own stats, I guess." –Patrice Bergeron, on scoring his 300th goal and being presented the puck.
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