This was a very even game between two very good teams. Both near the top of their respective conferences and both teams being very stingy in goals allowed, you knew it was going to be a close fought affair. However, with the injuries the Blues have at the moment (Polak, Colaiacovo, Jackman, Perron and Winchester), it was a huge win for them. The Blues dressed 6 defensemen, with Ian Cole and Nikita Nikitin getting their first games. Cole looked a bit shaky but will settle down. Nikitin, on the other hand, looked settled and strong on the puck.
Throughout the game, the Bruins had two “goals” reviewed – both times the puck didn’t cross the line and the Bruins also hit the post and crossbar FOUR times. The shot count was 35-34 just edged in the Blues favour and kudos must go to the two goalies – Rask and Halak – who were both superb in net. Tim Thomas has been getting all the credit in Boston but overlook Rask at your peril.
If the Blues have a weakness, then it’s their powerplay. Again, nothing happened on the powerplay – they pass the puck and don’t shoot, their crisp 5 on 5 passes seem to disappear when they have the man advantage and, rather worryingly, the opposing team seem to have more chances on the Blues powerplay than the Blues themselves do.
The Blues got the first goal – in a very good first period that saw them outshoot the Bruins by 13-6. With just over 3 minutes left in the first, Steen stole the puck from Seidenberg and passed it to Sobotka who lined up his shot and fired it into the net. A great moment for the ex-Bruin who was buzzing around all game. He registered some good hits and was a constant source of irritation for the Bruins. Another play who was irritating the Bruins was TJ Oshie – laying on a couple of fantastic hits and his forechecking and backchecking was second to none. His hit on Chara was a joy to behold with the big guy being unceremoniously dumped to the ice.
The Bruins came back into it in the 2nd and 3rd periods and Halak and the Blues defense really had to work hard. Halak saved the Blues from great chances from David Krejci and Matt Hunwick. The Blues still had some good chances with Rask rescuing the Bruins from McDonald and Backes. Backes had a good game – a few hits, a fight and a couple of good scoring chances. The goals will come for Backes. Of course, it was only a matter of time before the Bruins got back into it and they scored with 7 minutes left in the game, when a 3 on 2 break resulted in Gregory Campbell scoring past a screened Halak. Halak’s shutout streak ended at 150.3 minutes.
The game went to overtime where, again, it was pretty even at 2 shots apiece. The main talking point of overtime however, was TJ Oshie’s hit on David Krejci. It was a good, clean hit with both guys going for the puck. Oshie seems to explode into a hit – he has a low center of gravity and just seems to expand into a hit. Krejci’s head seemed to hit the boards and the ice and he was helped off the ice. No word on his status at the moment.
The shootout saw Boston shoot first with Bergeron. His shot hit the post (I’m not sure if Halak got a piece of it or not) and then it was TJ Oshie’s turn. I don’t think it was what Oshie planned but he managed to get the backhand under Rask to put the Blues 1 up. Next shooter for Boston was rookie, Tyler Seguin, who made no mistake with his first shootout attempt, scoring a great goal past Halak. Brad Boyes – who can’t score in open play but is money in the bank in the shootout – scored with a neat move past Rask to put the Blues 2-1 up. Next up was Michael Ryder and, for the fourth time in the game, the post came to the rescue and the Blues gained the extra point.
A great win for an injury depleted team and the Blues play again tonight against the New York Rangers. Conklin could well be in net for the Blues and Nick Drazenovic, called up for Peoria, could get his first game of the season in the Bluenote. Here, from Inside Hockey are the post game interviews with Jaroslav Halak, TJ Oshie and Bruins coach, Claude Julien: