Thursday, March 19, 2015

Game 71: Matchup of Significance

It was as if the past two weeks had not existed. The Boston Bruins have put themselves and their playoff hopes in jeopardy.

After back-to-back losses--one of them coming against the worst team in the NHL in the Buffalo Sabres--the B's are only four points ahead of the ninth place team. It is going to be a battle every step of the way for the rest of the regular season. This is what we get for supporting a maddeningly inconsistent team.  

Ironically, the Bruins faced off against the team that is right on their heels for that final playoff spot; Boston traveled to Ottawa on Thursday night to take on the Senators. Because the Black and Gold lost on Tuesday night, that made this game here of grave importance. This is the toughest way to start off a three-game road trip. 

Over the course of the season, we have covered lots of background heading into certain games. There is no need to dwell or repeat. With the points being at such a premium, talking about the game itself should suffice. 

Tuukka Rask was back in net for Boston. David Krejci made the trip with the team, but did not play in this game. 

The first period was one of the wildest and most entertaining starts to a game you will ever see. Both teams each netted a goal within the first 60 seconds. The Bruins actually beat Senators netminder Andrew Hammond for two goals, the same amount of goals he has allowed in any start during his NHL career (12 games). One of those tallies belonged to Carl Soderberg, which was his first goal in 25 games. You can clearly see the weight of the world lifted off his shoulders once that puck hit the net. The B's lone (and failed) power play opportunity of the period looked incredible as Coach Claude Julien loaded up with offensive weapons in order to put the puck in the net. And of course, the hits were aplenty (11-7 in favor of Ottawa). Truly entertaining opening period.

With the score tied at two after Boston shut down an Ottawa power play, the second period moved along quite quickly. The action continued to run rampant because of the players' will to win this game. Ryan Spooner recorded his second goal of the night, this time on the power play. Meanwhile, the Sens beat Rask for a short-handed tally at the other end of the ice. This was a more well-rounded period for Boston offensively, but there were occasions when the Bruins had some serious mental breakdowns. The youth of Ottawa definitely reigned supreme at particular points. With Torey Krug scoring his 12th goal of the year later in the period, the game was tied at four at the end of 40 minutes. 

In the third period, both teams took a cautious approach with neither side wanting to make a mistake. Boston was the team to do just that after Bruins killer Bobby Ryan blasted a shot that deflected off Zdeno Chara and into the goal. That moment eventually decided the game. The final score was 6-4 in favor of the Senators after a late empty netter by Kyle Turris. 

The Bruins are now ahead of the Senators by only two points and Ottawa has a game in hand. Wow.

The weekend is approaching, which equates to another back-to-back set for the B's. Why have it any other way, right? Their opponents will be the Florida Panthers and the Tampa Bay Lightning. 

Gold Star: Ryan Spooner...This was a great night offensively for the young center. Two goals in a big game will surely get you playing time in crucial moments. 

Black Star: Tuukka Rask/Reilly Smith....It was impossible to pick between these two for this game. Rask played awful and allowed five pucks past him, which is way more goals than he is used to letting in. As for Smith, a minus-three rating with a grueling turnover that led to a goal. He was nowhere to be found during the final period.

Game Seventy-One Box Score

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