Low scoring games are the norm for the Boston Bruins of late.
That’s not a bad thing.
The injury situation, while improving slightly following returns for Kevan Miller and John Moore in the last two games, is dire. Both Zdeno Chara (knee) and Patrice Bergeron (ribs) will miss at least the next four weeks. Charlie McAvoy (head), Urho Vaakanainen (head) and Brandon Carlo (upper-body) are closer, but will likely miss the pivotal divisional matchups in Montreal and Toronto.
The Providence call-ups, young and promising as they are, need to play significant roles during this tough stretch. Bruce Cassidy is changing his lineup often in hopes of getting more offense.
Yet there’s one constant during this four-game stretch: stellar goaltending from both Jaroslav Halak and Tuukka Rask. That trend continued Friday night against a talented, but struggling Penguins squad.
The Bruins had their share of quality chances against the Penguins. But goaltender Tristan Jarry, in his first start of the season, stood tall with timely saves against the likes of Brad Marchand, David Pastrnak and Danton Heinen among others.
Halak was a tad better than his counterpart across the ice sheet. The calm, cool and collected journeyman put together another quality start full of clutch saves against Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, Phil Kessel and company.
“Well, I mean we’re going to be a tough team to beat. Any team would be if both their goalies are going well. Let’s face it, we knew what we had in Tuukka and Halak was a – we’ve said all along – we thought would be a very good backup. He’s been a starter in this league, so that’s an area we feel we have covered, goaltending on a regular basis,” Cassidy said following the Bruins’ 2-1 overtime win over the Penguins.
“You need it in this league. All of a sudden you lose half your d-core and you need it more. Now we’re not scoring as much as we were. We didn’t get on the power play tonight. We lose Bergy. We knew going into the year there’d be some uncertainty in some roles up front who could score. So, for us, it’s very important and we’re getting it. And I think it’s why our record is what it is as well when we’re able to win these games without scoring a lot of goals.”
They’re 12-6-4, to be exact, in a tough Atlantic Division. Boston’s overtime record isn’t as good with two wins in six 3V3 appearances.
Getting to the extra session is a big accomplishment in and of itself. The Bruins will take points any way they can. Both Halak and Rask have gotten the team to OT in three of the last four games — including the last two — thus giving the team a chance to win.
Halak’s teammates backed him up Friday night with a beautiful tic-tac-goal sequence from David Pastrnak, Torey Krug and Joakim Nordstrom.
“Yeah, we talked about it, we knew we gave up some points in OT. And going in OT tonight I think we played hard and we played the right way tonight,” Halak said following his 36-save outing. “The bounces were on our side tonight and it went in, and just glad we were able to get the two points tonight.”
The Bruins got more good production outside of Halak on Friday. Jakob Forsbacka Karlsson’s first night with Brad Marchand and David Pastrnak didn’t result in a goal, but the trio held the Crosby line in check. The second line of Danton Heinen, David Krejci and Jake DeBrusk played a solid 200-foot game and traded chances with Malkin and Kessel. The third and fourth lines didn’t look out of place either.
Make no mistake, though, they need ‘A’ games from Halak and Rask — who makes his second start of the season against the Canadiens on Saturday in Montreal. They’re getting just that during trying times.
“Yeah, they are asked to do a lot,” said DeBrusk, who notched his ninth of the season to even things up at 1-1 in the second period. “I think just watching some of my clips and some of the game clips that we watch as a team, I think that there are a lot of chances in the slot, some pretty good Grade-A’s. And even tonight there could have easily been five goals against us and Jaro was huge and Tuukka as well. Tuukka is finding his game and it’s just a matter of getting some run support right now.”
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