Ask any of the Boston Bruins about their win over the Dallas Stars on Thursday night and they will admit it wasn’t their best effort. Fortunately, through the impressive play of their goaltender, Tuukka Rask—who notched his seventh shutout of the season and his 37th of his NHL career—Boston managed to walk away with two more necessary points as they come down to their final five games of the regular season.
Overall, it was a generally uneventful game in regard to shots on goal and the play for both sides was a bit lackluster. There were some situations where it was obvious that the Bruins weren’t connecting on their passes as solidly as they had earlier in the week, but even as the Stars began to ratchet up their effort, ultimately outshooting the Bruins in the third period, Rask’s ability to see and react to each shot they sent his way kept the visitors off the scoreboard.
“I thought he earned his keep tonight. He was our best player,” Bruins’ interim head coach Bruce Cassidy said after the game about Rask. “When we broke down he was there. They were off net a few chances, and I think from my vantage point his angles were so solid that there wasn’t much net to shoot at, [had it] under control.”
“We didn’t play a great game. We got the two points, which is huge right now,” Brad Marchand agreed. “But, Tuukka [Rask] played a great game. You have to give him a lot of credit. And D had a lot of big blocks. So, we have to clean it up for next game, but we do have to be happy with the two points.”
Few penalties were called—the usual hooking and interference called just a couple times each—but in the third period an errant stick of Kevan Miller’s caught Curtis McKenzie up high, sending McKenzie to the ice where it was quickly apparent he was seriously hurt. One of his teammates helped him over to the boards where the Stars’ trainer met him with a towel for the blood and hustled him down the tunnel. No matter the animosity of the teams, no player wants to seriously hurt another player.
“I guess they took an ambulance over to the hospital just to make sure he got out of here okay. But, I think I got him somewhere around the eye area and it’s just more a precautionary thing right now,” Miller told media after the game. “But definitely going to reach out and you hate to see that happen. It was really unfortunate. I had, honestly, no idea how it happened. I just turned and I ran into him.”
“I don’t know whether it’s good or not, but it looks like his eye is okay, but he’s got a pretty serious cut that’s going to have to get closed up,” Stars’ head coach Lindy Ruff said of McKenzie’s trip to the hospital. “And there may be some muscle injury up there.”
Of course, after McKenzie left and the blood was scraped up, the Bruins found themselves having to kill a double minor with 8:52 left in a game that could have quickly become completely different if the Stars had been able to capitalize during their man advantage.
“That four-minute penalty kill in the third was definitely a huge aspect of the game that got us that win, so we beared down when we needed to, and obviously [Rask] played great,” shared d-man Brandon Carlo.
The Bruins will put this game behind them and turn to their next one. They will host the Florida Panthers in a Saturday matinee before hopping a plane to take on the Chicago Blackhawks less than 24 hours later.