Thursday night’s game against the Tampa Bay Lightning had the Bruins coming out pretty strong in the first ten minutes of the game, having out-shot the Lightning five to one within the first 5:30 of the period. It was just about two minutes after that when David Pastrnak was able to get one past Ben Bishop to put the Boston Bruins on the board first.
Despite this start, there still appeared to be a lack of energy from the team as the period continued and with just 4:31 remaining in that period, as a result of a takeaway from Zdeno Chara, which was more of a fumbling of the puck on Chara’s stick, by Steven Stamkos the score was tied and much of the remainder of the game would again be Tuukka Rask saving the Bruins as shot after shot was aimed in his direction from the team dressed in blue and white.
Of course, the first period was also a tough one physically for the Bruins—especially their fourth line. Just minutes into the game Gregory Campbell took a puck to his right eyebrow. He was fortunate that it wasn’t just centimeters lower, as he does not wear a visor. Off he went down the tunnel. Nine minutes later—in real time, not game time—it would be Daniel Paille’s turn to get hurt, having gotten cut on a play. Just after returning from being stitched up, Campbell would be hit and ended up awkwardly hitting the boards, and was hunched over in pain. However, being the player he is, Campbell joked about it postgame sporting stitches with bruising started that would undoubtedly become an ugly black eye.
The second period was by far the worst for the Bruins as they were outshot on the period as a whole 16-4. At the half-way point of the period the Lightning had seven shots on Rask while the Bruins had managed just a single shot on Bishop. Despite the disparity in the shots, the Bruins managed to get off the ice still tied at one.
As the teams came out in the third, it appeared that the Bruins were reconsidering their lack of effort, when just 2:20 into the period Patrice Bergeron, from the blue line and totally open, got a one-timer off from Dennis Seidenberg that hit the twine behind Bishop. Asked after the game about this goal, Bishop said that the puck took a dip.
Now all the fans could do was hold their breath, as there was still a lot of hockey left to be played. However, as has become the refrain all too often for the Bruins, it was less than six minutes later that the Lightning tied it up on a wrist shot from Vladislav Namestnikov. And that’s where the game would remain knotted—two a piece—for the remainder of regulation.
Overtime saw penalty after penalty. Bruins Chris Kelly was called for holding while the Lightning got a coincidental as Alex Killorn was called for embellishment just 51 seconds into the extra frame. Fans got to see some three-on-three action for about 90 seconds before Matt Bartkowski would get called for holding. There was some question as to whether or not the play would be three-on-two, but it went back to the more traditional four-on-three. For the lightning, the worst possible scenario—and one that Stamkos has experienced earlier this season—was a broken stick that flew into the stands. This was an automatic game misconduct for Stamklos with 1:01 left in overtime.
The extra five minutes would still not be enough to solve this one, and the teams would go to a shootout. For Bruins fans, they were definitely holding their breath as the shootout has been anything but a friend to the team in black this season. However, the Lightning were missing one of their best snipers in Stamkos.
Bergeron started the shootout off by putting his second of the night in the goal. Rask was able to stone Nikita Kucherov. Pastrnak likewise would be denied by Bishop, and Rask would also keep Jonathan Drouin from scoring. As Brad Marchand began his approach it had to be in his mind that if he got it in the net that his team would take two very important points on the night. To say that TD Garden erupted as Marchand capitalized on his attempt would be mild. Marchand leads the Bruins with 22 goals.
Marchand is also the Bruins resident pest. Because he plays for the Bruins, many Bruins’ fans like him. However, he is definitely not well-loved by other teams or their fans. Currently, the “little ball of hate” is the only player in the NHL who currently leads his team in both penalty minutes—he has 82 this season—as well as in goal scoring.
Marchand Madness is what it is and the fans wouldn’t have it any other way. He needs to play close to that edge to be the scoring machine that he can be; this being his fourth 20+ goals season. And because he is the “little ball of hate,” he does sometimes tend to end up chilling in the box for a couple of minutes, though it has been nice to see him not taking extreme chances that result in suspension. He will probably always find himself get a reputation call from time to time, but it appears he is back to finding a better balance, while still playing his game—that results in his current impressive scoring stats.
See postgame interview with Steven Stamkos here: