12/29 Bruins 3 – Sabres 2 (OT)
As we start getting later into the season each divisional game gets more and more important. Here’s something that may scare, or excite Bruins fans, they only play the Sabres two more times including this game, so now only one game left and we won’t have to wait to watch it as that happens next week. But, we’ll forget about next week for now as we look at this week.
The Bruins had to fight hard in this one as they found themselves trailing 2-1 late in the third period. With just over two minutes to play, Torey Krug skated parallel to the blue line and fired a shot or a pass right at Jake DeBrusk who was able to tip it home to tie the game.
In overtime, it was back and forth per usual as both teams had opportunities to score and none better than the opportunity the Sabres had late in the overtime period as Vladamir Sobotka flew into the Bruins zone and beat two defenders for a semi-breakaway chance in which Tuukka Rask came up huge.
Immediately following the next faceoff, the Bruins won possession of the puck and Sean Kuraly skated it down into the attacking zone, firing a shot off the Sabres goalie, Carter Hutton, hoping for a juicy rebound, and a juicy rebound he got. The puck landed right in the path of Kuraly who batted the puck into the net on his backhand to end it.
These were two huge points for the Bruins as they have not looked great in the last few games, but heading into the Winter Classic on New Year’s Day, they have some momentum that hopefully gives them confidence starting the new year.
1/1 Bruins 4 – Blackhawks 2 WINTER CLASSIC!!
Notre Dame Stadium in South Bend, Indiana and a sold out crowd, probably the best setting a hockey game will be played in all year. The atmosphere looked electric and the crowd was buzzing for this game against longtime rivals. This was a great way to start the New Year and a good opportunity for the Bruins to build some momentum off an overtime win against Buffalo.
The scoring was opened by the Blackhawks in this one as they buried a chance in the first period, but their lead would not stand very long as David Pastrnak got the game tied at 1.
Pastrnak has not slowed down one bit especially on the power play, and now with Patrice Bergeron healthy and back in the lineup, the power play is outstanding.
Speaking of Patrice Bergeron, after the Blackhawks once again took the lead, it was the aforementioned Bergeron who would tie the game back up, with another power play goal for the B’s.
Bergy was in his normal bumper position of the power play when a rebound found his stick and he corralled it on his back hand and roofed it past Cam Ward all in one motion. It was a beautiful goal that showed the silky mitts of Bergeron.
The Bruins would get the lead for good in this one late in the third period, and for the second game in a row Sean Kuraly found himself scoring the game winner, last game being the overtime winner in Buffalo, he now has four goals on the season, and none bigger than his Winter Classic goal.
Tuukka Rask got the start in goal for this game and in consecutive games for the first time in quite a while. However, in a pregame press conference, Coach Bruce Cassidy said that Tuukka will be playing with more regularity now as he has found his game and now they need to build his consistency by getting more games out of him.
Well it is clear that he has found his game especially with some of the saves that he made in this one. He has been locked in and it’s very obvious with not one but two saves on one of the best breakaway forwards in the game, Patrick Kane.
Well, now that all the fun of the Winter Classic is in the past, it’s time for the Bruins to get serious and get down to business. The All-Star game is quickly approaching and before you know it, we will be heading to playoff time, so the Bruins have to keep winning these games and taking two points so that they can solidify themselves in a playoff spot.
1-3 Bruins 6 – Flames 4
The big question heading into this game for me anyway, was if the Bruins will have any Winter Classic hangover after playing outdoors at Notre Dame. Well it was clear that there was no hangover. While it wasn’t a perfect game (so many never are) it was a very solid win. Calgary having played the night before didn’t appear to be fatigued as they came out of the gates swinging. They jumped out to an early 1-0 lead, but the lead wouldn’t last long as John Moore would find the back of the net for only the second time this season.
This led a charge by the Bruins to end the first period, but they would take the lead before heading to the locker room on a tip in goal by Jake DeBrusk. He found himself in front of the net screening Flames goalie Mike Smith, and was able to get a tip on the David Krejci shot, for the lead.
Early on in the second period the Flames would tie the game at two, but none other than Brad Marchand would give the Bruins the lead once again with his 14th goal of the season and would later put in an empty netter for his 15th.
The Bruins held a 3-2 lead entering the third period of this tilt, and had an early power play opportunity which saw David Pastrnak’s 25th goal of the season, but the pass by Torey Krug is what set up the goal. He fired a slap pass from inside his own blue line past everyone off the end boards, which bounced right to Pasta. He corralled the puck on his forehand and deked Mike Smith, firing a backhander home for the two goal lead.
After the Flames would once again score and make this a one goal game, Jake DeBrusk got his second goal of the game on a tough angle backhanded shot that slipped right through the five hole of Smith to open the game up once again, and this time for good.
It was great defensive pressure that would directly lead to this goal, but Calgary scored yet again, to make it a one goal game again. As stated earlier, Brad Marchand got his second goal of the game when Smith exited the goal for the extra attacker, sealing the win for the big, bad, Bruins.
The Week Ahead
If you’ve been reading my blogs all season long, you know that I put an emphasis on divisional games. They’re just too important to not make a big deal of, and as the season goes on, we are going to see more divisional teams, we also will see the final meetings against divisional opponents. In this case, it’s the last meeting, on Saturday 1/5, the Buffalo Sabres are in town for the final meeting between these teams. The Bruins find themselves above the Sabres in the standings, while they have the same amount of points. This game is extra important for the B’s to win so they keep control of that third spot in the Atlantic Division standings.
The Bruins will then remain at home for the rest of the week as they welcome to town the Minnesota Wild on Tuesday the 8th at 7pm. Finally on Thursday, the defending Stanley Cup Champion Washington Capitals will be in Boston for a 7pm puck drop. Big week for the Bruins, hopefully they build off the momentum from this week.
Videos courtesy of NHL.com