The Bruins (29-10-8) played host to the Anaheim Ducks (24-17-9) Tuesday night, the first game for both teams coming off the NHL’s All-Star Weekend. Winger Brad Marchand was set to serve the second game of a five-game suspension that he received a week previous against New Jersey. The last time Boston faced Anaheim was November 15th. While the Ducks won the game 4-2, this match-up signified a major turning point in the Bruins season, as the B’s went on to acquire a record of 23-3-4 following that game. Anaheim, who had won their last two contests heading into the night, looked to continue their winning ways by sweeping the season series with Boston.
Anaheim was the dominant team in the first 20 minutes of play, outshooting Boston 15-5 and recording two goals.
The first tally came off a play in front of the Bruins’ net where Zdeno Chara went tumbling into the crease, accidentally pushing the puck across the goal-line. Ducks’ winger Jakob Silfverberg would be credited with the goal 9:04 into the first.
Five minutes of play later Boston defenseman Torey Krug would be sent to the penalty box for slashing.
Anaheim center Adam Henrique would capitalize on the ensuing odd-man advantage when he received a pass from teammate Rickard Rakell in the right circle before firing a wrist shot past Bruins’ netminder Anton Khudobin.
Boston came out energized to start the second period after a slow first 20 minutes of play. Just 2:08 into the middle frame, Ducks’ center Antoine Vermette would be sent to the box for holding.
The Bruins failed to capitalize on the advantage, but managed to generate multiple scoring opportunities that turned into momentum for the team in throughout the duration of the period.
Boston fought back to outshoot Anaheim 13-4 in the second period, cutting the Ducks’ two-period shot advantage to 19-18. No goals were scored in the period.
Neither team took a clear advantage in puck possession or shots on goal in the final 20 minutes. Boston went to the power play with just under three minutes to go when Ducks’ captain Ryan Getzlaf got into a scrum with Chara along the wall inside the Bruins’ zone.
The Bruins failed to capitalize on the power play. However, with 42 seconds remaining, Ryan Spooner feathered a puck on net to beat Ducks’ goalie Ryan Miller who took the crease with 7:25 left in the period when Gibson suffered an apparent injury.
Boston failed to tie the game in final seconds, allowing an empty net goal to Henrique in the final six seconds.
Final Score: Anaheim 3 / Boston 1
Shots on goal favored the Bruins 31-27. Anaheim won 56.9% of faceoffs and outhit Boston 33-23.
Next Game: Thursday, February 1st vs. St. Louis 7pm EST
Boston struggled in the first 20 minutes of play, giving up two goals to Anaheim while getting outshot by a significant margin.
With Brad Marchand serving the second game of his five-game suspension, Danton Heinen took over the left wing position on the top line with Patrice Bergeron and David Pastrnak.
Ryan Spooner played 19:37 in the game, and was probably the most noticeable Bruin on the ice for most of the game. Brandon Carlo and Matt Grzelcyk also played well. Carlo recorded a time on ice of 20:25 and while Grzelcyk sat at 16:41. The two both stepped up to make important defensive plays throughout the game, stifling Anaheim’s movement through the neutral zone.
It was evident that the Bruins were missing the creativity and speed of Marchand especially in the early going. Boston will need to find a way to put more pucks on net and generate more scoring opportunities through the final three games of Marchand’s suspension.
David Backes and Anders Bjork went down with injuries in the game. Head coach Bruce Cassidy commented on Bjork’s injury after the game, “It’s upper-body, he’ll miss some time.”
The Bruins face a strong St. Louis Blues team Thursday that has struggled to win games of late. Boston will need to find a way to get off to a better start so that they are not forced to play catch-up, something they have had to do for the past eight games.