Thursday, April 2, 2015

Game 78: Chasing The Teams Ahead

Thursday night was actually a more important night than this past Tuesday. Yes, the Boston Bruins completed the comeback in the third period of the game against the Florida Panthers to take two points and increase their lead in the wild card hunt.

With the win, the B's put themselves in a spot to do more than just settle for eighth place in the Eastern Conference. 

The Detroit Red Wings were on the slate for Thursday, the final meeting of the regular season between these two "Original Six" squads (Boston leads the season series 3-1 with Thursday being the fifth game of the year). Only two points separated Detroit and Boston heading into this game, so the winner could jump to third place in the Atlantic Division. 

The Bruins were heading into this one poised to face an incredibly hot goaltender in Petr Mrazek, but unhealthy players like Pavel Datsyuk were watching from the press box. To counter that, Brett Connolly finally made his B's debut after missing four weeks with a broken finger. David Krejci moved to his natural position at center between Carl Soderberg and Loui Eriksson. The stakes were high and both sides were prepared to reap the results. 

Joe Morrow was recalled from Providence and joined the team in Detroit. He did not end up playing in this game. Tuukka Rask was in goal yet again for Boston while Maxime Talbot was a healthy scratch. 

In the first period, Detroit came out with a purpose. Despite being undermanned, the Red Wings were just too quick for the Bruins in the opening 20 minutes. The B's had a couple of bad turnovers and Rask saw way too many pucks thrown his way--the Red Wings racked up 14 shots on goal. The bottom line here is that the Bruins were lucky that the period was scoreless...especially when the Red Wings got two chances to demonstrate the second-best power play in the league. 

Boston switched up all four lines in order to get something going in the second period. They did get an opportunity on the power play, but failed to capitalize even with four shots on net. After strong pressure in front of Rask, Detroit was able to poke the puck into the goal to start the scoring. The Red Wings targeted David Pastrnak all night long with the physical play. During that time, Patrice Bergeron left the game with an apparent head injury, but later returned. Thank goodness. Nothing was going right for Boston at that point in the game.

In the third period, Detroit added another goal on the power play to increase the lead. The Bruins managed to get the next two tallies to tie the game. The final 20 minutes was such a back-and-forth affair that nothing was predictable. In fact, what was unbelievable is that Zach Trotman scored the game-winning goal (his first career NHL goal as well) late in the period in front of his home state of Michigan. What a feel-good story this game turned out to be for the Bruins. 

With the win, Boston and Detroit are tied at 93 points for third place in the Atlantic Division. Connolly and Reilly Smith each racked up two assists. 

The Bruins will be in action on Saturday night against the Toronto Maple Leafs.

Gold Star: Tuukka Rask...He made 35 big saves throughout the game. He was vital to keeping his team in the game until the very end. 

Black Star: Zdeno Chara...He took two penalties in the opening period and was sloppy with the puck in the defensive zone. Usually his heavy shot can make up for his lapses, but not on this night.

Game Seventy-Eight Box Score

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