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Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Pastrnak Saves the Day (and Maybe Claude Julien's Job) in 4-3 OT Win for B's vs. Wings

When you lose four straight games and see your season quickly going down in flames, there really isn't that much left to say. The Bruins (24-21-6) rallied to tie it in the third period tonight at TD Garden vs. the Red Wings (20-19-9) and won 4-3 in overtime on David Pastrnak's sublime one-timer from David Krejci and Brandon Carlo. Pasta's 20th goal of the season was also his first in 18 games but right now, who's counting? It's only one game and two points but you can easily conclude that was the most vital win of 2016-17 thus far for the B's. After their putrid 6-5 shootout loss in Detroit last Wednesday (where they blew not 1 but 2 three-goal leads), they owed the Red Wings this loss.

This being the Bruins that we're talking about, it obviously didn't come easily. Rather, they took a very hard route to end up victorious in front of a crowd far smaller than a sellout. They had previously been 1-16-3 this season when trailing after two periods while Detroit was 10-3-2 when leading after two. It was the final game of Boston's inaugural mothers' trip and Brad Marchand's mother in particular had plenty to cheer about as her son tied it at three in the third period with his second goal of the game. Patrice Bergeron and Torey Krug assisted on Marchand's 19th goal of the season (which temporarily tied him with Pasta for the team-lead) at 8:20 of the third.

In a bizarre but totally true stat (take that alternative facts) Detroit has the NHL's best record in shootouts (6-0!) so the B's were smart to not let it reach that point (they are 2-2 in that goofy way to decide regular season games). Kevan Miller had missed the past four games with one of his endless injuries but he returned tonight and gave us all a taste of the full Kevan Miller Experience. He sniped a shot past Jared Coreau (45 saves) for his first goal of the season (and 1st in 42 games!) at 3:39 of the first period. Tim Schaller and Dominic Moore had the assists while Kevin Hayes (who had been a healthy scratch for the past 7 games) set a good screen in front of Coreau.

The Red Wings didn't record a single shot on goal for nearly the first 11 minutes but they made the first one count. Andreas Athanasiou burned Brandon Carlo and took an outlet pass from Mike Green that he finished on a breakaway with a forehand shot by Rask (23 saves) at 10:59. Niklas Kronwall had the other assist on Athanasiou's 10th goal of the season. Detroit is one of the lowest scoring teams in the league so it certainly didn't help that their top two scorers (Dylan Larkin and Thomas Vanek) were out for this evening's matchup. Marchand made it 2-1 late in the frame by putting in a rebound on the power play at 17:34. Ryan Spooner and Pastrnak had the assists as Boston's power play has connected for 10 goals in its last 11 tilts.

Green tied it at two at 6:25 of the second period as his slap-pass (intended to be tipped by a teammate) went off of Kevan Miller's skate into Boston's net. The ageless Henrik Zetterberg and Maine alum Gustav Nyquist had the helpers on Green's ninth goal of the season. Detroit is a long-shot to reach the playoffs for the 26th season in a row (it's really been that long) but their first three meetings with the Bruins this season have all been tight (Boston won 1-0 in Detroit on Oct. 29). Rask gave up a Malcolm Subban type weak one to Tomas Tatar at 10:51 of the second period that gave the Red Wings their first lead. Zetterberg picked up another assist on Tatar's 11th goal of the season.

It is a credit to Rask though (who left Sunday's blowout loss in Pittsburgh with a migraine headache) that he didn't fold after that. Instead, he never allowed another goal and made many quality saves later in the second, third and even two in the extra session. Boston closes the unofficial first half of its campaign (yes I realize they are well past the halfway point) on Thursday (7, NESN) as they host those high-flying Penguins (30-12-5) who fell 3-0 at home tonight to the Blues (24-19-5). The B's usually play entertaining and close games with Pittsburgh (excluding Sunday's debacle of course) so hopefully that is the case in two nights as they try to get back to .500 at the Garden (11-12-0) this season.

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