The Boston Bruins scored first for the eighth straight game on Super Bowl Sunday. Yet, in each of those seven prior contests, they wound up relinquishing the early one-goal advantage at some point during the game.
It turned out they only needed one goal from David Krejci — during the second period — in the nation’s capital on Sunday. Rarely does one mere goal get the job done, especially against Braden Holtby, but the Bruins dug deep against the Capitals and snapped their three-game losing streak.
Here is what we learned following Boston’s 1-0 triumph.
The Bruins exorcized their DC demons.
Bruce Cassidy’s squad entered Sunday’s matchup having lost six of their last eight dating back to their last meeting against the defending Stanley Cup champs on Jan. 10. That didn’t bode well heading into DC as the Bruins dropped 14 in a row against the Caps dating back to the 2014-15 season.
Holtby, who won 16 of 18 tilts against the Bruins heading into the final matchup of the regular season between the two teams, had Boston’s number again. The 29-year-old netminder stopped 38 shots and rarely gave up second and third chances with quality rebound control and timely saves.
His teammates, however, couldn’t get their mojo going until the third period. That’s where the Capitals, despite their quality chances, ran into a certain Bruins goalie on the verge of history.
Franchise wins leader Tuukka Rask is picking up where he left off.
Rask’s collision with Rangers forward Filip Chytil on Jan. 19 left the Bruins with a big question entering the bye week. But he had plenty of time to refresh following a nine-day layoff.
The 2014 Vezina winner spent most of that time off vacationing in the Caribbean. He only missed one start coming out of the bye week.
So the next question: how would Rask fare upon returning from his second concussion in as many season,s and could he pick up where he left off? Well, there isn’t much to complain about with Rask following his last two starts.
Rask followed Thursday’s 38-save performance against the Flyers with a 24-save outing against the same Capitals squad that ran him out of the Capital One Arena on opening night. He needed to stand tall in the third period with the Caps pushing for the equalizer, but Rask was up to the task — including his save of the day on Travis Boyd — making 11 saves in the final 20 to secure his second shutout of the season.
Tuukka Rask denies Travis Boyd.
18 saves so far today. pic.twitter.com/WAYqa6jxoK
— Conor Ryan (@ConorRyan_93) February 3, 2019
Through all the hot takes on social media and sports talk radio, Rask sits alone on the Bruins’ all-time wins list with 253. If only Tiny Thompson got the same treatment back in the day.
David Krejci needs more help.
— Boston Bruins (@NHLBruins) February 3, 2019
The repetitive secondary scoring narrative reaches the final month as the Feb. 25 trade deadline looms. GM Don Sweeney needs to address the middle of the lineup, particularly on the second line.
Jake DeBrusk is in the midst of a cold spell with only one assist in his last eight games. Peter Cehlarik gave the Bruins an initial spark upon his promotion from Providence. Ryan Donato, David Backes, Joakim Nordstrom and Danton Heinen all had chances on the second line. None have provided the consistency the Bruins desperately need in the top-six.
The Bruins got their lone goal from Krejci off a beautiful setup from Torey Krug and David Pastrnak at 10:43 of the second period. All four lines found a good rhythm of scoring chances and physicality against Holtby. Backes and Noel Acciari were the only two B’s forwards that didn’t register a shot on goal.
As hard as the team skated, the lack of finish added to the secondary scoring narrative. The Bruins need a proven scorer to play with Krejci and DeBrusk on the second line. Artemi Panarin, Wayne Simmonds and Chris Kreider are a few of the marquee names on the trading block. All will cost Sweeney a heavy price if he pursues a trade for one of the aforementioned trio of wingers.
The Bruins, Maple Leafs, and Canadiens are all poised to make a run at second place in the Atlantic Division and grab home ice for the first round. The Leafs added Jake Muzzin to bolster their blue-line. The Habs and Bruins will likely be in an arms race for scoring upgrades.
The trade deadline is three weeks away. The Bruins are happy to get a much-needed two points. But Sweeney’s approach to the trade deadline is key as Boston embarks on the home stretch of its 2018-19 regular season.