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Sunday, December 18, 2016

With No Pastrnak, Bruins Blank the Kings 1-0 Thanks to Rask and Hayes (No, Really)

With David Pastrnak out at least for the next few games after an unexpected minor surgery on his elbow (bursa sac) on Friday, the Bruins' (17-13-3) anemic offense has been put to the test even further. At least this afternoon, they got it done with a result that is basically head coach Claude Julien's dream score. Boston beat Los Angeles (16-13-2) 1-0 this afternoon at TD Garden. Tuukka Rask picked up an easy shutout (his 4th of the season, tying him for most in the NHL) with 18 saves as he improved to 16-5-3 this season. Jimmy Hayes of all people scored the only goal as the Kings never really got much going on with 10 shots on goal through the first two periods.

Both power-plays went 0-for-4 and if it feels like Boston usually has had this type of low-scoring game in 2016-17, it's because they have. It was the 22nd time out of 33 games that they have scored two goals or less, they improved to 9-12-1 in those and 3-0-0 in matinees. Originally the Hayes goal, which came at 4:20 of the first period, was credited to Colin Miller but replays showed that the BC product had tipped the puck before it reached Kings goaltender Peter Budaj (29 saves). It was the second goal of the season for Hayes (and only his 2nd point), the other came back on November 27 vs. Tampa Bay. He's on a hot streak now! Colin Miller and Dominic Moore had the assists on the lone tally of the contest.

Sadly, about as rare as a goal by Hayes these days is an actual fight in the NHL but wouldn't you know the fans were treated to one of those as well. What an early Christmas gift! Kevan Miller dropped the gloves with Kyle Clifford later in the first period and those are each legitimate tough guys. Marian Gaborik (who only has 1 goal in 9 games this season) and Dustin Brown (4 goals in 30 games) were scratches for the Kings who are similarly offensively-challenged as the Bruins. UMass legend Jonathan Quick is out (groin) until at least February so it'll be tough for LA to hold onto a Wild-Card spot in the Western Conference. Granted, that's the least of Bruins' fans worries at this moment. They just want to see the Black and Gold back in the postseason for the first time in three years. It's been way too long!

Boston hosts the reeling Islanders (11-13-6) on Tuesday (7, NESN) at the Garden. Rhode Islander Jack Capuano, the head coach of the Isles, has to be on the verge of getting fired since somehow his team is currently in last-place in the Eastern Conference. It'll be a nice little reunion with former Bruins Johnny Boychuk and Dennis Seidenberg back in town and isn't that what the holidays are all about? All told, the B's have three games left before a mini-Christmas break (Dec. 24-26). They are at Florida (14-13-5) on Thursday (7:30, NESN) and at Carolina (13-11-7) on Friday (7:30, NESN). Out of a possible six points available next week, I'm thinking that they should grab at least four from that trio of winnable opponents.

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