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Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Bruins Fall to Their Western Conference Clones-the Blues-and Lose Chara to an Undisclosed Injury

Former Blues captain David Backes met his old NHL team for the first time this evening as his Bruins (11-8-0) fell 4-2 to St. Louis (11-6-3) at TD Garden. Boston mustered 41 shots on goal but the combination of Jake Allen's quality start (39 saves) and a lack of scoring touch by the B's meant that it was a frustrating night for the Black and Gold. More worrisome, Bruins captain Zdeno Chara left after skating only one shift in the second period and never returned (head coach Claude Julien had no injury update after the game). Apparently he was hit by Jaden Schwartz which might have caused the departure but honestly, I didn't see it. So I guess we'll have to hold our breath on that until we hear more information from either the Bruins or more likely the most connected NHL reporters (Bob McKenzie, Darren Dreger, Pierre LeBrun, etc).

As is usually the case with these very identical clubs, they combined to produce an entertaining tilt. Backes actually gave Boston a 1-0 lead at 7:44 of the first period with a power-play goal. He tipped in Torey Krug's shot from the point and the puck just got over the line (under Allen's leg pads). Backes' fourth goal of the season was also assisted by David Krejci who now has seven points (1 goal, 6 assists) in his last six games. There were two noteworthy milestones on that tally: it was the 20,000 career goal in Bruins franchise history (only Montreal had reached that before them) and the 100th career NHL assist for Krug.

Both times that the B's took a lead in this game, the Blues responded like you would expect from a good team (despite their 2-5-1 road record coming in). Jori Lehtera tied it at one at 3:23 of the second period. He tipped in Colton Parayko's bullet past Tuukka Rask (24 saves) with Vladimir Tarasenko notching the other helper. Who has been a more pleasant surprise early on this season for the Bruins (given their respective expectations) than Dominic Moore? The former Harvard star made it 2-1 Boston at 8:59 with a gorgeous shorthanded strike. Riley Nash found him for a breakaway and he was able to lift a forehand shot over Allen's glove for his fifth goal of the season (he had 6 all of last season) and second shorthanded marker (which ties a career-high from 2 years ago with the Rangers).

Rask wasn't his normally locked in self from 2016-17 as he let up a pair of juicy rebounds which wouldn't you know it both came back to bite his team (no pun intended). Robert Bortuzzo tied it at two just five minutes later as Rask basically handed the puck right to him and the clunky defenseman was able to slide in a backhander. Patrik Berglund and Parayko assisted on Bortuzzo's first goal of the season. 2:12 after that, Paul Stasny scored what turned out to be the game-winning goal as once again Rask laid a puck out in a dangerous area on a silver Thanksgiving serving tray. Stasny's fifth goal of the season was assisted by Jaden Schwartz and the huge bust known as Nail Yakupov.

Boston came out with renewed energy in the third period and outshot St. Louis 17-7 but they couldn't find that all-important tying goal on Allen. Rask was pulled with 1:48 left in regulation and a face-off in the Blues' defensive zone. Lehtera put it in the win column via an empty-net goal at 18:44. David Perron and Berglund had the assists on Lehtera's second goal of the contest.

It promises to be a weird couple days for the Bruins, especially for the few Americans on the team, as they have a meeting with the Senators (11-7-1) on Thursday night (7:30, NESN). I've been lucky enough to cover the B's for five seasons and obviously I am a life-long fan but I can't ever recall them playing on Thanksgiving. The usual script is flipped too in the sense that they usually have the afternoon matinee on Black Friday at the Garden with the Celtics getting the nightcap. This time around, the Celts host San Antonio in the first game (1, CSN) followed by the Bruins hosting the Flames (8-12-1) that night (7:30, NESN).

I probably won't write anything until Friday so Happy Thanksgiving everybody, hope you have a wonderful day with your family and friends!

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