Bruins blow past Flames in Garden return
The Bruins returned home after a lengthy road trip (four games in over a week across Canada), but it was like they never left. Boston (23-9-2) blanked Calgary (13-16-5), 2-0, at TD Garden Tuesday night behind two power-play goals by Zdeno Chara and 21 saves by Tuukka Rask (who picked up his third shutout of the season). It was a week to the day since the Bruins won, 2-1, in Calgary and the Flames haven’t scored a goal in Boston in 189:36 (Alex Tanguay, Oct. 19, 2006). It was Boston’s sixth home win in a row.
Even with all their injuries and the suspension of Shawn Thornton, the Bruins have stayed in first place in the Atlantic Division and are right there with the Penguins for the No. 1 seed in the Eastern Conference.
“Our team hasn’t really changed, there are a few new faces in the dressing room but it hasn’t changed our game,” noted Boston head coach Claude Julien.
Indeed, Boston being 7-3-0 in its last 10 games is a tribute to its organizational depth down in Providence and confidence in the system in Boston.
Coming off Saturday’s discouraging 6-2 loss in Vancouver, the B’s were able to ease their way back in against a franchise that is constantly stuck in rebuilding mode. This was the start of nine straight games against non-playoff teams for the Bruins, a nice gift no matter what holiday you celebrate.
Chara’s first power-play goal was a one-timer in the second period, the other one came in the third period on a rebound of a loose puck in the crease. Jarome Iginla and David Krejci had the assists on both goals by the captain.
Rask was pulled in the loss to the Canucks so this game had to feel much better to Boston’s franchise goaltender. He really didn’t have to make too many outstanding stops since the Bruins held the Flames to single-digit shot totals in each period.
Up next, the B’s have a home-and-home series with the Sabres. Buffalo (8-23-3) beat Winnipeg, 4-2, Wednesday but the Sabres are still the worst team in the NHL. Boston is at Buffalo’s First Niagara Center on Thursday (7, NESN) then the Sabres come to town on Saturday (7, NESN).
What they’ll be saying: He’s always smiling, so it was tough to tell the difference, but Iginla had to be particularly thrilled to be out of Calgary on this night (not to mention last Tuesday) when he saw his pathetic former team up close and personal. The Hall of Famer spent too much time in a Flames uniform when that club wasn’t going anywhere. These games had to mean something extra to him; after all, he suited up Tuesday even though he dislocated his finger in a fight on Saturday.
Chara’s two goals gave him nine on the season (tying Ottawa’s Erik Karlsson for the most by a defenseman) with six coming on the man advantage. Putting Chara down low used to seem pretty basic but by moving him around now (witness how different his goals were in this game), they are able to use his variety of skills. Needless to say the B’s dodged a major bullet when he went down with a high stick to the face early in the second period. The blade just missed his eye – I’ll never understand why more guys don’t wear shields.
Craig Cunningham made his NHL debut, skating 8:16 on the fourth line with Jordan Caron and Gregory Campbell. He is the second Bruin to play in his first NHL game this season (Kevan Miller) and eighth making his first appearance in Black and Gold this season (Loui Eriksson, Mark Fraser, Iginla, Chad Johnson, Nick Johnson, Miller, Reilly Smith).
Thornton’s appeal of his 15-game suspension will happen on Friday with NHL commissioner Gary Bettman.
Follow Metro Boston Bruins beat writer Richard Slate on Twitter: @RichSlate