The Bruins needed extra time to get it done, but get it done they did and the boys secured the all-important extra point in a shootout win over Buffalo tonight at the TD Garden. With a retooled lineup and some noticeable jump in their game, the Bruins head into the last portion of the season looking to cement their playoff position.
The debuts of Taylor Hall, Curtis Lazar and Mike Reilly were (rightly so) all the talk during pregame, but it was also an important bounce back game for Jeremy Swayman who suffered his first NHL loss in his last outing. Bench boss Cassidy started the game with the new look Krecji line that had Hall and Smith on his wings while Coyle was the pivot between Ritchie and DeBrusk. The 4th line had Lazar at center as Kuraly slid over to the wing opposite Wagner. The top line was reunited in an attempt to get Pastrnak going again. On the back end, McAvoy was in after 4 games off and he anchored the top pair with Lauzon while Miller and Reilly were paired together and Clifton and Tinordi the final duo.
Old friend Colin Miller beat Swayman early with a clapper from the point that got over the blocker on the rookie netminder. I thought Sway had a bead on it, but Miller can really bring it and Tinordi may have screened him on the shot. Linus Ullmark got the start in net for Buffalo, but left the game 5 minutes in and did not return. At this point there’s been no news except that he is listed as day to day. The Krecji line tied the game up when he buried a backhand off a Lauzon drive with 7 minutes left in the first. Smith came with a heavy forecheck that spun Sheahan around and he got absolutely trucked by Ritchie. It looked like Sheahan lost his edge and you know you can’t stop a train on it’s track and Ritchie almost put him through the ice. The rebound bounced to Krecji in the slot and he put it over the paddle 1-0 good guys. Here’s Ritchie doing Big Dick Nick things on the Krecji goal:
The 4th line was the star of the game as they had offensive presence all night and worked the wall great as a unit. The B’s got a big jump off them and I don’t think it’s hype to say that was the best the 4th line has looked all season. That units’ pressure led to Smith putting the Bruins ahead in the 2nd when he converted a Hall drop pass over the blocker of Tokarski (who came in for Ullmark). Hall didn’t get the apple, but he was involved with the play. Baby steps amiright? There were also a couple of tilts in the 2nd as Matt Irwin squared off with Ritchie (seriously?). gotta give it to Irwin though, he’s giving up size and experience in dropping the gloves with Ritchie. Later Tage Thompson definitely didn’t read the game notes and dropped the gloves with Miller. I mean what’s he thinking? Miller throws hammers and did nothing but lift weights while rehabbing his knee, the guy’s an absolute unit. Both tilts go to the B’s by decision.
Buffalo went out in front again in the 3rd when a Dahlin slap shot went off Lazar and bounced over Swayman’s blocker. Sway got a piece of the puck, but not enough and the game went to OT tied at 2 goals apiece. In OT both teams’ new guys had looks as Hall, Reilly and Anders Bjork all had chances to win and were either denied or couldn’t find the handle (sorry Bjorkie) and the game headed to the shootout. Coyle and DeBrusk both scored and Swayman stopped the 2 shooters he faced to give the Bruins the shootout win.
As Brick said on the NESN feed during OT “Poise, patience and Swayman”.
The Bruins host the Islanders for a pair on Thursday and Friday. Cassidy talked about getting the new guys up to speed over the next couple of days. Let’s see what this roster can get going vs. an actual NHL team later this week.
- Lazar had the best debut followed by Reilly and then Hall. Lazar set the tone for the “energy line” and was noticeable all over the ice. Reilly is silky out there and had no problem getting his shots on net and finding lanes. Was good to see him and Miller constantly talking on the bench after their shifts. Hall struggled, but to be fair (to be faaaaair) he was a healthy scratch for the last 10 games in Buffalo. He had some moments, and hopefully he will continue to improve as he gets acclimated to his lineys.
- Craig Smith has been on the uptick for a few weeks now. Guy brings the effort every single night. Good to see it starting to pay off for him.
- Glad to see both Coyle and DeBrusk get goals in the shootout, maybe gets them going?
- Sloppy penalties almost let this one get away from the Bruins in the opening period.
- Pastrnak with another quiet night. Not involved offensively or physically.
- Had to go to the shootout to get the W against a mostly AHL team.
- Jarred Tinordi played in his 100th career NHL game tonight
- Craig Smith played in his 700th career NHL game tonight
- Old friend and Stanley Cup Champion Milan Lucic played in his 1000th career game and just for good measure had himself a tilt at center ice vs. Scott Sabourin. Congrats to LOOOCH.