The Minnesota Wild arrived at 3 a.m. Tuesday morning. They looked the part during Tuesday’s tilt against the Boston Bruins.
The Black and Gold took advantage of a fatigued Minnesota squad and kept their hot streak intact.
Danton Heinen, Jake DeBrusk, Brad Marchand and Patrice Bergeron each netted a goal in the first 40 minutes. Tuukka Rask sealed the 4-0 victory with his first shutout of the season.
“The guys are aware of the schedule, it was a tough one for Minny. We’ve been on the other side of it at times where you’re going from city to city and play the night before,” Bruce Cassidy said following the team’s season-high fifth straight win.
“I think the way you try to avoid helping them along is to manage the puck, don’t give them any easy chances, make them go 200 feet and stay out of the box. Play downhill, I think that was the big key and then we got some breaks in front of the net.”
Here’s what we learned from Boston’s thumping of Minnesota.
Bruins get creative with scoring
Sometimes it’s just your night, as the old saying goes.
Tuesday was indeed Boston’s night.
Cassidy’s squad scored in every way conceivably possible — i.e. intentional bank-passes, skate deflections and chest redirections.
“A few went our way but by the same token we were able to get there, get pucks there,” Cassidy said about several fortuitous bounces.
One of the more peculiar tactics the Bruins have been implementing this season and over this five-game win streak is the use of the intentional bank pass. They displayed that against Calgary last week when Torey Krug sent a missile of a pass off the end boards directly to David Pastrnak.
The bank passes made another appearance two games later.
With under nine minutes left in the opening stanza, Bergeron sent a semi-no look pass wide of the net in Brad Marchand’s direction. The ever cunning and crafty forward read the play perfectly, corralled the pass and found the back of the net as Minnesota goalie Alex Stalock tried to recover from Bergeron’s apparent “missed shot.”
The chaos didn’t stop there. Bergeron again connected on another good bounce, this time with Jake DeBrusk who notched his 14th of the season in the strangest of ways.
The four-time Selke winner collected the puck near the blue line and hurled a wrist shot to the front of the net, while DeBrusk made his way to the goal front. The puck sailed higher than anticipated and DeBrusk — imitating his favorite soccer player — used his chest to redirect Bergeron’s play from the point past Stalock.
“Pretty shocked for sure…haven’t taken one off the chest and into the net,” DeBrusk said about his first-period tally. “I didn’t know if it was going to hit me in the face or not. I didn’t know what was going to happen.”
It didn’t end there. Bergeron had a fortunate bounce of his own in the second period to put the game firmly out of reach.
It took 43 games to hear these words: Tuukka Rask posted his first shutout of the season.
The 31-year-old Finn didn’t have a particularly busy night in his 24-save outing but he came up with the timely stops when needed.
“He was under control all night,” Cassidy said about Rask. “I thought we did a good job keeping everything clear for him, for the most part, limited sustained pressure against. I think that helps, so he was just clean like the group in front of him.”
Rask’s performance against the Wild was a microcosm of his recent stretch of play. The 2014 Vezina winner, now 12-8-2 on the season, is finding his form again after stringing together four impressive wins in a row.
“Results have been happening, yeah, so that’s good,” Rask said after tallying his 250th career victory.
While the 11-year-veteran netminder lacked a ton of enthusiasm after his solid outing, Cassidy and the Bruins are taking note of his performance. Rask might have gained ground on regaining his spot as the team’s bonafide No. 1 netminder.
“Tuukka’s now earning — I don’t want to say the net back; I don’t think that’s the appropriate term — but more starts,” Cassidy said. “So, we’ll see how he runs with it,”
Boston’s power play and penalty kill had a special night
The Bruins dominated in every area against the Wild. Their special team prowess, in particular, was something to marvel at.
Boston’s fourth-best man-advantage unit cashed in on both of its power play opportunities. The penalty kill, meanwhile, held the Wild to exactly zero shots on goal in three attempts.
“We took a couple penalties, but our penalty kill was excellent, so we didn’t allow them to get some momentum going,” Cassidy said about the team’s PK unit. “We played downhill, so I think that was a big key.”
Both special teams units need to be on top of their game again come Thursday as the Bruins look to snap their long 13-game skid against Alex Ovechkin and the defending Stanley Cup champion Washington Capitals.
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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