From the Garden: Power play proves vital as Bruins head into break with loss
On Tuesday January 26th, the Boston Bruins, to their 279th consecutive sellout,were visited by the red-hot Anaheim Ducks at the TD Garden. Coming into the game, Boston was third in the Atlantic division, behind Florida and Detroit, as well as fifth in the Eastern Conference. The Bruins have started to play well recently, going 4-1-0 in their past five games, including a win at Philadelphia on Monday night. Anaheim struggled to start the season, and are currently fifth in the Pacific division and 11th in the Western Conference. However, coming into the TD Garden, the Ducks were 4-1-0, winners of two straight and coming off a 4-3 win at the Detroit Red Wings.
Off the ice, the NHL suspended Anaheim Ducks player Shawn Horcoff for 20 games, following a violation of the NHL’s PED policy. In response to the suspension, Horcoff said, “Although I was unaware that this treatment was not permitted under NHL rules, that is no excuse whatsoever. I should have done my research and I should have checked with the NHL/NHLPA Performance Enhancing Substances Program’s doctors”. While not having a stellar season, the 15-year veteran is currently sitting at 994 regular season games, and can still make it to his 1000th game after the suspension is over.
While there was a very exciting Hockey game at the TD Garden on Tuesday night, there was also many milestones within reach for the Anaheim Ducks and the Boston Bruins. Andrew Cogliano of the Ducks has played in 668 consecutive NHL games, never missing a game in his career. After tonight, he only needs 11 more consecutive games to move to sixth-place on the NHL list for most consecutive games in history. On the Bruins side, Loui Eriksson is three goals shy of 200 for his NHL career. Also, Tuukka Rask has 30 shut-outs for his career, currently fourth on the Bruins all time list. In third with 31 shut-outs is 2011 Stanley Cup Champion Tim Thomas.
Early on in the first, the Bruins controlled the game, pressing Anaheim in their own zone caused a turnover leading to Zach Trotman’s first goal of the season, with assists by David Krejci and Matt Beleskey. Coming into the game, Boston was 21-7-0 when scoring first, while Anaheim was 5-15-1 when allowing the first goal. Boston seemed to have a strategy of putting pressure on the Ducks in their own zone, as the Bruins had a few more chances with Ducks turnovers that led to shots on goal. After a scramble at the net, Torey Krug and Chris Stewart fought in Boston’s zone, both receiving 5 minute penalties for fighting. What should have been a simple clearance for the Ducks and collection for the Bruins would prove costly, as Anaheim played the same strategy when Jonas Gustavsson made an inerrant pass leading to Corey Perry’s 20th goal of the season. After this goal, the Ducks would take control of the first period, making Gustavsson work hard in net, and cause two Bruins penalties, Holding by Krejci at 8:42 and Tripping by Bergeron at 12:35. The all-star’s tripping penalty would come back to bite the Bruins, as the best Penalty killing team in the league let in Shea Theodore’s second goal of the season to make it 2-1 Anaheim. Later on in the period, the Ducks Simon Despress got whistled for tripping, leading to Boston’s second Power Play of the game. During the Power Play, Boston was in the zone for most of the period, however they were unable to capitalize on a penalty late in the period, making it 2-1 Anaheim going into the second. After a very entertaining first period, the Ducks had 16 shots, to the Bruins 13.
To begin the second period, Claude Julien had to make a goaltender change, shifting Gustavsson for Tuukka Rask. Jonas was replaced due to illness and was sent to Massachusetts General Hospital in between periods. Something changed with the Bruins coming into this period, as they were able to pester Anaheim more in their own zone, leading to a shot advantage of 9-3 in the first 10 minutes of the period. What helped with this shot advantage was an early penalty on the Ducks Hampus Lindholm for interference. Even though Boston was unable to cash in on the Power Play, this seemed to spark the team, leading to more efficient offense for the Bruins. At 11:06 in the second period, the Rask held onto a shot for a brief moment before letting the puck slip to his right leading to a goal by the Ducks David Perron (6). After the goal, the Bruins Zach Trotman was called for a roughing penalty at 12:12, which led to a small shorthanded chance for Brad Marchand, with a shot saved on Andersen’s glove side. After a very dull 8 minutes or so, the Anaheim Ducks were able to capitalize on a four on two chance, leading to a goal scored by Kevin Bieksa (2) at 17:13 in the second. Towards the end of the second period, Boston defenseman Zdeno Chara and Ducks forward Patrick Maroon were both called for roughing penalties. At the end of the second, the Bruins were able to bring back the amount of shots, tying it 8-8 after the second, making it 28-25 overall.
Early on, the Bruins came out with much more fire and attacking power than the second period, leading to nice passing from Beleskey and Spooner, and a goal by Zdeno Chara his seventh of the year. Less than one minute after the goal, the Bruins were on another power play, yet again unable to capitalize on the man advantage, making them 0-4 on the night. For the first 8 minutes of the period, Boston was able to mount much offense, with five shots on goal, including a shot by Torey Krug that rang the post. After a very dull, middle of the third period, the Anaheim Ducks were once again on the Power Play after Zach Trotman was penalized for Delay of game at 14:41. Even though the Ducks did not score on the power play, this penalty would prove costly as time continued to tick off the clock. Once the penalty time for Trotman was up, Rask was pulled from his net and Boston tried to pull this game back with six men on the ice and a two goal deficit. However it would prove to not be enough as Anaheim netted two more goals en route to a 6-2 final over Boston. After the game, Claude said, “ They’ve been waiting here for three days for us, they’re big, pretty heavy team, three lines deep…second period was our area of errors, down four one came out in the third period and I thought we competed”. Tuukka Rask also said in response when asked if he thought they competed tonight, “ I mean, yeah but when they scored that third goal we kinda went down a little bit”. While this is a disappointing loss for Boston, they still sit at fifth place in the eastern conference, with 57 points heading into the All-star break and will pick things up again on February 2nd when the Toronto Maple Leafs come to town.