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Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Rask Gets His 1st Shutout of the Season as Bruins Blank Blues 2-0


With one of the best teams in the NHL visiting TD Garden to kick off a huge week, the Bruins picked a good time to play their preferred style of hockey. Boston (12-8-0) shut out St. Louis (12-5-1) 2-0 behind 33 saves by Tuukka Rask for his first shutout of the season (and 24th of his career). Every game seems to bring a different lineup and this was no different as Brad Marchand was scratched but David Krejci returned to action. Through it all, the B's have won six straight games at home.

St. Louis outshot Boston 33-17 which is a little more disparity than the Bruins would prefer but their penalty kill did go 2 for 2. Patrice Bergeron was the recipient of a gift in the first period as Ian Cole's clearing attempt went right to him. Even worse (for the Blues), Brian Elliott (15 saves) was out of position-behind the net-so all Bergy had to do was slot it in the empty cage for his fifth goal of the season. That gives him four goals and five assists in his past eight games.

Boston's other goal had some Cole on it as well since Torey Krug's shot from the point deflected off Cole's knee by Elliott. Matt Bartkowski and Loui Eriksson assisted on Krug's third goal of the season (first since Oct. 21; he missed 4 games). Zach Trotman was sent back to Providence earlier in the day and Adam McQuaid left in the second period after taking a shot off his hand so Bartkowski's role suddenly got that much more important. Since he returned on Saturday vs. Carolina (after 7 DNDs in a row), Bartkowski has looked like a different, more confident guy. Tonight, he was +2 with one hit and one takeaway in 20:52. He'll never be an All-Star or on a top defensive pairing (at least not here) but the B's needed him to be better and he's starting to turn the corner.

The Blues outshot the Bruins 15-3 in the third period but many of those chances were from the outside. Both teams took their timeouts late in the frame and despite a huge advantage in offensive zone time all game, St. Louis could never find the back of the net even when they took Elliott out with a couple minutes left.

Boston travels to Columbus (6-11-1) for the rare Friday night (7, NESN) NHL game. The Blue Jackets are a disaster: in last place in the Metropolitan Division and only one point ahead of the Sabres after getting smoked 5-0 tonight vs. Detroit. The next night (7, NESN), the B's host the Canadiens (14-5-1) and then on Monday (7, NESN) the Penguins (13-3-1) come to the Garden. The Bruins passed their first test and Friday is a good chance to tune up their road record (4-4-0) while giving Niklas Svedberg a start. It's all about Montreal and Pittsburgh, two great litmus tests for Boston before Thanksgiving.

UPDATE 11/19: McQuaid is out for 6-8 weeks after breaking his thumb last night. Poor guy, like last year when he was hurt, the B's have Kevan Miller who is a suitable McQuaid replacement.


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