As the Boston Bruins took to the ice on Tuesday night, they held on to the second wild card slot in the east by a slim one-point margin. They played host to the Nashville Predators, who flew in Monday night after their victory against the New York Islanders. As the game got underway, it was clear that the Predators were perhaps a little tired. Watching the Bruins though showed a hungry team, and perhaps one that had taken time after their fourth straight loss last Thursday to reflect and, as David Backes put it, “re-educate” themselves on what it takes from each player to be the winning team they know they can be.
“I think we need to re-educate ourselves to those winning ways; of all the sacrifices we made for each other and all the hard areas and all the hard plays that you need to make every night in this league in order to win,” Backes said after their loss against the Tampa Bay Lightning on Thursday.
The Bruins jumped them right from the beginning, and while Nashville was beating Boston at the face-off, it was Boston who was controlling that first period. The energy was almost visibly bouncing off the players in black and gold. When Patrice Bergeron put the Bruins on the scoreboard first, it was as though someone turned up the wattage on the entire team. Going into the first intermission, Boston found itself up 2-0. The second goal came 13:52 in the opening frame as David Krejci got it 5-hole on Pekka Rinne.
Having gone up those two goals in the first, it looked like the Bruins backed off just a bit, allowing the momentum to start to tilt some in favor of the Predators. They outshot the Bruins during that period and managed to spend significant time buzzing around in Boston’s defensive end, but fortunately Tuukka Rask was up to the challenge after having been sidelined with a lower body injury when the team traveled to Brooklyn for Saturday’s win against the Islanders. Rask kept Nashville from cutting the Bruins lead in that middle frame.
“The first period was really good for us, probably came from the focus,” David Pastrnak shared postgame on the mentality of the team on the bench. “We knew that they have a good start. We knew they played yesterday. We tried to jump them and it worked and those two goals we scored were enough.”
While it had been an interesting and in some ways a physical game up to the second intermission, things ramped up a few notches as the third got going. First, the Predators getting their first goal of the game, thus making it a one-goal game, gave them a renewed energy. However, the Bruins were not to be denied and this was accentuated by the impressive 3-on-1 rush Boston had that saw Riley Nash, whose been hot the last bit, make a quick and solid backhand pass to Noel Acciari for the rookie’s first career NHL goal four and a half minutes after the Predators goal.
The Bruins put a bow on it with an empty netter from Backes at 18:29 of the third and six seconds later, with just 1:25 remaining on the clock, the sparks flew as the gloves were tossed and the fists began to fly. Those crazy moments would result in a power play for the Bruins and a lot of extra paperwork for the referees.
In a game that saw only five penalties between the two teams in the first 50 minutes of the game ended up with all sorts of penalties from that spark. Cody McLeod received five for fighting, a ten-minute misconduct and a game misconduct for initiating a fight in the last two minutes with Kevan Miller. Miller received just five for fighting. Vernon Fiddler got a double minor for roughing on Nash. And as the horn blew to end the game, Colton Sissons got dinged for a high stick on Nash.
Despite the extracurriculars, in the end the Bruins earned two necessary points and seemed to be re-infused with the game that had them so strong after Bruce Cassidy was made interim head coach. The team welcomes the out-of-playoff-contention Dallas Stars on Thursday night.