Claude Julien’s sentiments before Thursday night’s game vs. Anaheim about the persistent plethora of one-goal outcomes: “The win is what matters. If it means they’re one goal games all the time as far as 2-1, 3-2, 4-3, if we’re going to be on the winning side of it, it’s still the same two points as winning 10-1.”
The Bruins jumped out to a two-goal lead Thursday night before losing, 4-3, their third one-goal game in a row, eight in their last 10, and exactly half their schedule to date at 16 of 32.
A nudge above .500 in wins across those 16 with nine, Sunday’s matinee was against the Los Angeles Kings, fresh off a big road win in Pittsburgh Friday night in OT, 1-0.
Julien about the Ducks Thursday: “They play a heavy game.”
Ditto about Sunday’s opponent: “That’s a pretty big, heavy team they have there,” he said postgame, “and their offense usually comes from wearing you down and winning battles and crashing the front of the net.”
The Kings lead the NHL with 947 hits, 116 more than the second-place Arizona Coyotes. They also swept the Bruins last season and 12 of the last 14 games between these teams have been decided by two goals or fewer. Both teams one point apart Sunday at 35 and 34.
Good news for Boston: Tuukka Rask (15-5-3, 1.90 goals against average) back in goal.
Bad news: David Pastrnak misses at least next two games after undergoing a successful removal of the olecranon bursa from his right elbow on Friday. He is second in the NHL with 19 goals in 27 games.
The Kings have endured the loss of former UMass star Jonathan Quick down early in the season and done until late February. Veteran Peter Budaj, an AHL reclamation project, reborn as LA’s savior in net at 14-7-2 with a 2.03 GAA into Sunday. He was 5-2-0 with a 2.36 GAA in eight career games against the Bruins over the last 10 years.
Ironically, Julien omitted the 1-0 game reference in his lead quote above. Here’s what we learned as Boston bounced back to .500 at home at 8-8-0 in the 1-0 and one-goal win.
The fourth line put the home team up at 4:20 when Dominic Moore (“7th Player Award”) won a faceoff back to Colin Miller who rifled a shot on Budaj that found net off Jimmy Hayes’ deflection. It was Moore’s 11th point and Hayes’ second point of the season in his 28th game.
“I thought we played on our toes,” Moore said. “I thought we played pretty aggressively getting in on the forecheck and getting pucks back, and playing on the move.”
“I really thought Colin has really played some of his best hockey in the last couple games,” Julien said about a key piece of the Milan Lucic trade. “We’re hoping that’s what is to come because he’s been really good playing the way he has.”
As for the underperforming Hayes?
“Hopefully it’s a confidence builder for him and he gets to become a better player moving forward,” the 10th-year B’s coach said.
‘It was Dominic Moore doing that,” Hayes said. “Great job off the faceoff there and as he was coming down the wall I saw the play and tried to push on net and right spot at the right time.”
The Bruins’ fourth-best PK in the league kept that stat intact with two kills in the first 20 minutes of defensive play. To wit: 6-5 total shots in favor of Boston, compliments of eight blocked shots.
Miller-Clifford head main card
Kevan Miller and Kyle Clifford engage in a spirited fight on Sunday. (Photo by Joe Makarski, Bruins Daily)
At 16:12, one of the better bouts of the season when Kevan Miller and Kyle Clifford went at it. Clifford, second-most penalty minutes on the Kings and identical in size with Miller at 6-2 and 205, took a slight decision in the 60-second one-rounder.
Perfect 13-0-0 into the final 20
After a scoreless second period with two missed power-play opportunities, the Bruins took their perfect 13-0-0 slate when leading after two periods into the third.
The Kings were 1-9-1 when trailing after two.
The Bruins went on the PP for four minutes at 4:13 when Tyler Toffoli went to the box for high sticking the snoot of Zdeno Chara. They did everything but score.
“Our first unit hadn’t done enough compared to the second unit, so you do what you have to do there [using the second-unit first],” Julien said about shuffling bodies to attempt production on the man-advantage. “I think our second unit had more of a shot mentality and they created some opportunities. They were a little bit more intense and quick with the puck. Our first power play right now just has to make some better decisions, make some better passes – they were off. I think we had a couple guys on that power play that had a very average night, that doesn’t help either.”
Nonetheless, make that 14-0-0
Holding the Kings to a season-low 18 total shots on Rask made for a relatively easy night en route to his fourth shutout, and 34th career, one behind Frank Brimsek for second all-time.
“Right off the bat we pushed the pace. That’s always been a strength for us this year when we push the pace and get the puck forward and get the forecheck going,” Rask said. “It seems to pay off for us and today is a great example of that.”
“I think we did a great job defensively,” Julien assessed, “which was probably the key there this afternoon to this win.”
Hopefully to be continued Tuesday against former Bruins Johnny Boychuk, Dennis Seidenberg and the Islanders.
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