The Boston Bruins looked for their ninth straight victory and their first ever win against the Minnesota Wild in Boston (0-6-0) on St. Patrick’s Day at TD Garden.
The Black and Gold jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the second period on goals by Jarome Iginla and Loui Eriksson and it proved it be enough as the B’s got only their third win in 13 tries against the Wild winning 4-1 in front of a sold out crowd.
Reilly smith added the third goal, his first goal in 15 games while Iginla scored an empty-net goal for his second of the night. Tuukka Rask stopped 33 of 34 shots in the victory.
Here are three takeaway’s from Monday’s game
1. Bruins depth proved too much for Wild
As if the B’s do not have enough ways to beat you. Whether it is goaltending, their high-powered offense or their defense led by Zdeno Chara, the Black and Gold proved yet again why they are the number one team as of today in the Eastern Conference.
Contributions came from every direction. The first line led by Iginla who scored his 24th and 25th goals of the season. Reilly Smith got the monkey off his back scoring on a rebound off a Patrice Bergeron shot. The third line continued their run of success when Carl Soderberg showed off his skills with his no look dish to Loui Eriksson who buried his eighth goal of the season. The fourth line brought their typical relentless fore checking and physicality while the defense contributed with four assists on the evening-two by Chara, one by Andrej Meszaros and the other by Matt Bartkowski.
Whichever way one looks at it, the B’s can roll any line Claude Julien prefers and get production out of it. It is why they are successful and have been successful over the last few years.
The player that is really rolling as of late has been Iginla. His line is very productive as well, but Iginla has six goals in his last five games and now leads the B’s in scoring. Iginla also played in his 1300th career game Monday night.
Julien knew the team had big shoes to fill with Nathan Horton leaving and he is glad he has Iginla filling that void.
“He’s fits in so well with that line,” Julien said. “He brings us the same thing the other guy did with his size and scoring ability. He’s done a great job. And again, we’re talking about a veteran here who has tremendous leadership qualities. Again, maybe not surprising to a lot of people what he’s accomplished here and certainly he’s been a great asset to our team where, like I said, it could’ve been a lot different had we not gotten him.”
Another player who is making a late run for the Seventh Player of the Year award is Soderberg. His play over the last month has been nothing short of sensational. His physicality, vision and skill has made his line a mismatch for opposing teams. Since moving to his natural position as a center, Soderberg has excelled.
Soderberg now has one goal and three assists in his last five games, but he is making his line mates that much better. Whether it is his passing game or his size that screens goalies, Soderberg has been a pleasure to watch lately.
This is just another reason why the B’s are in prime shape heading into the playoffs.
2. Tuukka Rask continues string of dominance
Rask’s last loss came on March 1st against the Capitals. Since then, he has won six straight decisions allowing one goal or fewer in four of those six games.
He was again on his game Monday night versus the Wild as he turned away 33 of 34 shots to collect his 31st win of the season while watching his goals against average drop to a minuscule 2.07.
Rask acknowledged the team winning nine games in a row, but was not satisfied with the overall play in each game and knows the team can work on different areas of concern.
“Yeah, it’s good that we get those wins, but I don’t think that we’ve played our best hockey all of these games, Rask said. “Giving up those breakaways, stuff like that. But for the most part I think we’re playing pretty good. The offense is good.”
Rask again kept the B’s in the game early as he has been doing a lot lately especially in games versus the Canadiens and the Rangers.
He made some nifty glove saves tonight to allow the Black and Gold to build their lead.
If there is a time that Rask will play better than he is now, let’s hope it’s in the playoffs because right now he is playing Vezina Trophy winning goaltender for the top team in the East.
Iginla knows that Rask and Chad Johnson give the team a chance to win every single night. This statement was validated yet again tonight.
“Our goaltending has been outstanding all year without question,” Iginla said. “We’re very fortunate to have them in net and they do give us a chance every night.”
3. B’s get monkey off their back beating Wild in Boston
If it wasn’t surprising enough that the B’s owned a 2-10-0 career record vs. the Minnesota Wild, it should be more surprising that they were 0-6-0 at TD Garden. Well, on this night the B’s finally earned their first win in front of their home crowd against a very good Wild team.
Players were aware of their record against the Wild compliments of Milan Lucic and are now glad the winless streak is over.
“It does feel good to be part of their first loss,” Iginla said. “I think some of us new guys were probably a little bit surprised with that. Some of the guys who has been here before wanted to end the streak. But yeah, they played well, they came out hard, and I thought it was a good game. Just a little bit different style than some of the others. Their forecheck was a little bit different and I thought our D handled it well. They had some good pushes, but we found a way to answer them.”
Chris Kelly knew it wasn’t going to be an easy game and applauded the Wild’s effort. Even in a 4-1 loss the game was a lot closer than the score dictated.
“They played well, Kelly said. “They’re a good hockey team, they’re a deep team that handles the puck well and skates well. They were moving their feet extremely well in the first ten minutes and we weren’t.”
After Iginla’s fluke of a goal to get the B’s on the board and break a scoreless tie, it was destiny that the B’s would get off the schneid and get the two points against the Wild at home. It certainly was two U’s, two K’s, two points for a team that is absolutely rolling right now.