Even with the World Champion Boston Red Sox in attendance at TD Garden, the Bruins didn’t exactly live up to championship standards Monday night. But they did just enough to squeeze by the Dallas Stars in overtime.
The Bruins dominated puck possession, outshot the Stars 35-25, scored two power-play goals and David Pastrnak tallied his league-best 12th goal of the season. But they needed a Brad Marchand overtime tally to bail them out and secure the two points.
“Usually it takes a game or two for the floodgates to open and we hope — I’m an optimist — that it’s Thursday [against the Canucks] or at least later this week,” head coach Bruce Cassidy said about Boston’s recent scoring struggles. “I always found that when you are in a losing streak, right before you come out of it, you play really well and things don’t go your way. I think a goal-scoring streak can be that way. Hopefully, it is an omen for us going forward and luckily it didn’t hurt us tonight because we defended so well.”
Here’s what we learned from the Bruins’ narrow 2-1 victory over former teammates Tyler Seguin, Anton Khudobin and the rest of the Stars.
Quite simply, if you’re name isn’t Marchand, Patrice Bergeron or David Pastrnak, you’ve been struggling to score for the Bruins; and it has been extremely noticeable. The Bruins rank among the leagues lowest in terms of goals and 24 of the 39 (61.5 percent) tallies they have scored have come from their premier trio.
It was no different against Dallas, as the top line once again provided most of the offense and scored both Bruins’ goals on the evening. Pastrnak lit the lamp in the first period after receiving a brilliant no-look pass from Bergeron in the corner and Marchand looked off a defender on a 5-on-3 power play to bury the walk-off goal with 31 seconds remaining in the extra session.
Although they escaped defeat on Monday, we are starting to learn that just might not be enough against good competition.
Boston has been trying to find a remedy for its lack of scoring depth — i.e. scratching the recently assigned Ryan Donato, swapping Danto Heinen and Joakim Nordstrom on the second and third lines and even breaking up the Bergeron line from time to time — and they are still searching for answers.
Yet Cassidy remains optimistic that the secondary scoring will come around.
“And tonight, I thought, for the most part, every line I thought outplayed the one against them,” he said. “It didn’t always result in goals, but I liked the way it turned out.”
The Bruins still have several options — namely landing a marquee goal scorer via trade or moving Anders Bjork up to the first line — that they need to consider before settling on a steady lineup. They cannot enter the discussion of Stanley Cup contenders without a more balanced lineup.
Tuukka Rask desperately needed a win to not only boost his confidence but to keep his spot in the starting goaltender rotation. He got just that.
Despite giving up a soft shorthanded goal early in the first period, Rask bounced back, made big plays when called upon and put together a solid 24-save outing.
“He needs wins. He’s a goalie and that’s what he gets judged on. The first goal was an outside shot from a bad angle. Good for the guys to pick him up right away on the power play. You know we win as a team and lose as a team. After that he settled in, played well, made a nice stop in overtime,” Cassidy said about Rask.
“He wasn’t that busy so it was good to get his bearings, again he hadn’t played in a while. I don’t know how used he is to not playing that much but at the end of the day he needed the win and he got it.”
“Well I’d like to get off to a hot start every year and be the best goalie in the league but I think when it doesn’t happen you try to get better, fix what you did wrong and figure it out and get better as the season goes on,” Rask stated following his first start in nine days. “I’d rather take that than start hot and keep getting worse. Obviously, I want to play great every game, every month but the past few years it hasn’t been the case.”
Rask and the Bruins coaching staff hope that this is a big step forward to overcoming his annual early-season struggles.
The two former Bruins played a key role during Dallas’ three-game winning streak entering Monday’s contest and had a reason to get excited upon their Causeway St. return. Neither of them had the homecoming they were hoping for, though.
Khudobin stood tall and stopped 33 of the 35 shots that the Bruins hurled at him, but came up short despite his outstanding performance.
Seguin, meanwhile, was a relative non-factor as the Bruins did a fantastic job of keeping him in check. The Stars’ leading scorer only fired two shots on net and won only 27 percent of his faceoffs — most coming against Bergeron — in 21:14 of ice time.
Matt is a recent graduate from the Pennsylvania State University with a degree in sports journalism and a minor in business. He currently reports on the Boston Bruins and writes featured stories and game recaps for both Bruins Daily and Boston.com
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