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Saturday, February 28, 2015

So Maybe Ryan Spooner Should Have Been In Boston All Season

Facing a must-win game in late February, who didn't predict that Niklas Svedberg, David Pastrnak and Ryan Spooner would be three of Boston's (30-22-9) most important players? Spooner picked the perfect time to finally get his first career NHL goal as he brought home a 3-2 overtime win tonight at the Prudential Center vs. New Jersey (25-27-10). Tuukka Rask was sick so Svedberg stepped in for his first start in over two weeks (Feb. 10 vs. Dallas) and responded with 29 saves. All Pastrnak did was pick up a goal and an assist as the youngest player in the league gets more comfortable every time he steps on the ice.

The Bruins swept the three-game season series with the Devils and outscored them 10-4 in the process. More importantly, Boston is now four points ahead of Florida and six points on top of Philadelphia for eighth-place in the Eastern Conference. True to form with this entire season, the B's didn't make it easy on themselves as they squandered a 2-0 lead in the third period before eventually waking up in overtime (not before Svedberg made some big saves to keep it tied).

Anything can happen on a Friday night in Newark, NJ-believe me, I know-so obviously Daniel Paille scored a goal for the second straight game to open things up. New Jersey defenseman Andy Greene turned the puck over right to Loui Eriksson in a prime spot; he shuttled it over to a wide open Paille who slammed a one-timer past Marblehead, MA native Cory Schneider (31 saves) at 8:39. It was Paille's third goal of the season so look out Alex Ovechkin!

Chris Kelly and Reilly Smith were credited with assists on Pastrnak's goal at 1:40 of the third period but truthfully, it was all thanks to the rookie. His initial shot was stopped by Schneider but he drove to the net to collect the rebound and beat the former BC star the second time around with his seventh goal of the season. Considering that Svedberg had shut them out earlier this season (3-0 on Jan. 8 in Boston), 2-0 seemed like enough offense against the Devils who just traded 43-year-old Jaromir Jagr-their best offensive player-to the Panthers on Thursday.

To quote the great Lee Corso, "not so fast my friend." New Jersey cut it to 2-1 at 5:57 on Travis Zajac's power-play goal (his 9th tally of the season). The puck found him uncovered at the side of the net and he blasted it by Svedberg, with assists to Adam Henrique and Jacob Josefson. That goal really sparked the Devils as they completely took over and tied it a little over two minutes later. Dougie Hamilton's chip didn't get out of Boston's offensive zone so former Canadien Mike Cammalleri skated in and drew Svedberg out of the net before dropping the puck back for Jordin Tootoo to touch into the open cage. Adam Larsson had the second assist on Tootoo's sixth goal of the season.

The last thing that Boston needed was a shootout so they happily improved to 7-3 in the extra session. The winning sequence came on a 4-on-2 with Pastrnak and Torey Krug providing the assists to Spooner who roofed a pretty shot over Schneider. For a guy that has struggled mightily to find the net, that had to feel amazing not to mention the fact of its team and personal significance.

The B's have a nice opportunity to grab another two points tomorrow (5:30, NESN) back at the Garden vs. lowly Arizona (20-35-7). It sounds like Rask might be available but honestly, I would give Svedberg the start again. Why not, right? Boston only has 21 games left in the regular season so when they see an awful team like the Coyotes, they simply have to take advantage of that.

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