Here’s what we learned in the Bruins' 3-0 win over the Anaheim Ducks on Friday night at the Honda Center:
1) The fourth line continues to be a big factor for the Bruins.
On a night when the regular Bruins offensive producers weren’t having a dominant night against a lesser opponent, it was the perfect time for somebody else to step up and fill the void.
The fourth-liners did just that with Sean Kuraly setting up the first goal in the first period, Noel Acciari scored when he went to the front of the net and tipped a Brandon Carlo shot and then Chris Wagner stepping up and icing the game against his old team with an empty-net goal in the final minute of the game.
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The rise of the fourth line is obviously a boon for the Black and Gold when it comes to secondary scoring and matchups on the road where the B’s don’t have the last change, and of course in the energy department. Still, it’s also a pretty big development given how problematic the third line has been. Kuraly, Wagner and Acciari all topped 14 minutes of ice time, which actually puts them more in line with a third line than the actual third line of Joakim Nordstrom, Trent Frederic and David Backes.
As Don Sweeney alluded to earlier this week, it may actually be that the fourth line becomes a checking, defensive third line for the Bruins where the offense takes a bit of a backseat, but there will still be nights such as Friday in Anaheim where they can step up and carry for the day when Boston’s offensive stars have temporarily dimmed. That just won’t be a formula for success in the playoffs unless the B’s can find a way to pump up their second line as well.
2) After a tough stretch, Jaroslav Halak is riding high.
For about six weeks, goals against were piling up, but now it appears Jaroslav Halak has bounced back. He stopped all 30 shots Friday night and earned his fourth shutout of the season. Halak is 2-0-1 with a 1.27 goals-against average and .962 save percentage in three appearances in February. His season totals are still ahead of Tuukka Rask with a 2.35 GAA and a .923 save percentage.
Granted, the Ducks aren’t exactly offensive juggernauts and they struggled to really string together quality offensive chances on Friday, but it was Halak that made a nifty save on Max Jones after a bad Torey Krug turnover in the first period. It was Halak who made another 11 saves in the second period and it was Halak that didn’t have a single misstep while playing confidently and calmly.
With Halak and Rask once again operating on all cylinders in net, the Bruins are going to be tough to beat.
3) Jake DeBrusk appears to be getting his game back.
After going more than a month without a goal and really not looking like the next-best offensive threat behind Boston’s top line, he’s beginning to heat up again in what appears to be something of a streaky track record for the second-year winger.
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DeBrusk has two goals and four points in the past two games, along with eight shots on net. He's going hard to the net and is again getting pretty active on the second line while skating with David Krejci and Peter Cehlarik. His goal on Friday night was a byproduct of him playing the net-front on the power play and simply having his stick down ready to activate when Krejci made an All-World play dangling around the Ducks defense and their goaltender before feeding it to his wide-open linemate. They won’t all be that easy, but DeBrusk is showing that he’s again ready to shoulder more of the offensive burden.
*Acciari hasn’t scored a ton of goals this season, but he set the tone when he tipped home a Carlo shot in the first period and made the Bruins front-runners in the game. He finished with the goal, a plus-2, three shots on net and three hits.
*Halak made 30 saves in his fourth shutout of the season and made 11 saves each in the first and second periods while really getting locked back in.
*Kuraly picked up a pair of assists, made a slick dish to Brandon Carlo on the B’s first goal and blocked a couple of shots in 16=plus minutes of ice time while having a really good night.
*Adam Henrique was on the ice for a pair of goals against, lost seven of his 10 face-offs and wasn’t much of a presence at all offensively for Anaheim.
*No shots on net and a minus-1 for Ryan Getzlaf in 20:51 of ice time as he continues to look like a once-dominant player in decline for the Ducks. It’s part of the reason they are where they are these days.
*Three giveaways and no shots on net in 19:12 of ice time for Charlie McAvoy in a step back from some of the excellent games that he’s had of late.
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