Game 81 with neither team having anything to play for isn’t the most exhilarating matchup on paper. It was equally as boring on the ice.
The Boston Bruins, fresh off clinching home ice for their first-round matchup with the Maple Leafs two nights ago, did just enough to get by the Wild in Minnesota, 3-0. Joakim Nordstrom kicked things off with his second period tally, while David Pastrnak and Zach Senyshyn added a pair of goals in the waning minutes. Jaroslav Halak posted a 26-save shutout in the winning effort.
“I thought the second period was one of our better periods in a long time in terms of puck possession in the offensive zone. We did a real good job of getting to their net, got rewarded,” Bruce Cassidy told NESN’s Jack Edwards and Andy Brickley postgame. “Then in the third period, we did what we had to do to win. Rolled everyone over and like I said, blocked shots at the end, everyone was buying in to what we need to do and it worked out for us.”
Here’s what we learned from Boston’s final road contest of the regular season.
The Bruins avoided a scare and stayed healthy
Results at this time are secondary. What matters most is maintaining optimal health for the playoffs.
With that in mind, Cassidy gave Brad Marchand, Zdeno Chara, Chris Wagner, Charlie McAvoy and David Krejci some much-needed rest in the second to last game of the season. The Bruins did what they had to do and left Minnesota relatively unscathed, but not without a scare.
Kevan Miller, who returned to the lineup last week after missing 16 games, landed awkwardly in the boards following his collision with Jordan Greenway early in the second period. The veteran defenseman limped off the ice and went straight to the locker room following the hit.
Kevan Miller goes into the boards and he's hurting.
Miller returned and skated for a couple of shifts late in the second period. The Bruins kept him out of the third as a precaution. They hope to have the former Vermont Catamount in the lineup for Saturday’s regular season finale against the Lightning.
“He’s fine. He had a lower-body [injury], tried to come back. We just thought it would be better, he’s missed some time, to let it sort of sit tonight and get him back in there Saturday. That’s the plan and hopefully he’s fine tomorrow he’s ready to go,” Cassidy said. Nothing serious. He’s missed so much time that would have been a tough one for him and the group but we think he’s going to be ok.”
Charlie Coyle and Ryan Donato faced their former clubs
The main storyline heading into Thursday centered around the Charlie Coyle and Ryan Donato trade right before the trade deadline. While both teams benefitted from the transaction, it is always a little emotional for the players against their former teams the first time.
Such was the case with Coyle’s return to the Twin Cities. The Weymouth born centerman received a nice video tribute from his former team during the first TV timeout on Thursday night.
Neither Coyle nor Donato player did anything of note to “stick it” to their former teams on the ice. The duo finished with a combined six shots on net and couldn’t find the back of the net despite their solid chances.
It’s still too early to evaluate a winner in the Donato-Coyle swap. We’ll have to wait a little while to find that answer.
Zach Senyshyn makes his long-awaited debut
The resting veterans paved way for a big opportunity for some of Boston’s younger players Thursday night. In particular, Zach Senyshyn.
The 2015 first round pick made the most of his first career call-up with an active night alongside fellow linemates Coyle and Marcus Johansson. The 22-year-old fired four shots on net in his 12:41 of ice time and tallied the empty netter to cap off the Bruins’ victory.
“I thought he played really well. Deserved that, even though it’s an empty netter, for his first pro goal, they all count,” Cassidy said about the young forward. “I thought he had lots of chances early on. His first two shifts he’s on pucks, getting good looks so not nervous, was ready to play. Did his job in the 200-foot games and I liked that he was on the puck and willing to attack the net when he got it. A lot of good things.”
Senyshyn will likely head back to Providence once the Bruins begin their playoff preparations early next week. But a solid NHL debut for a player that’s had some ups and downs in his first two years in the AHL is a positive step in the right direction. He’ll have some confidence upon his next trip down I-95.
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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