It was a night to celebrate for the Bruins and fans, and not just because it was Fan Appreciation Night. Famous and adorable Bruins fan Liam Fitzgerald was in attendance for the celebration.
Before the Bruins final home game of the regular season got underway, the team gave out some awards, including its Three Stars (Brad Marchand, Tuukka Rask, and Patrice Bergeron as the number one star). After presenting Dougie Hamilton with the 2015 John Bucyk Award for charitable and community endeavors, the Chief himself was presented with an honorary gold, framed #9 jersey from Zdeno Chara, Patrice Bergeron, David Krejci, and Chris Kelly “in honor of 58 years of service and dedication” to the Bruins.
When all was said and done, the Bruins came out with a 2-1 shootout win, although the team certainly had the opportunity to win the game in regulation or overtime with a total of 50 shots on net through 65 minutes. The puck eluded the back of the net all night, beginning with plays such as this three-on-one in which David Pastrnak sent an unmanageable pass to Milan Lucic about waist-high.
In the first period, the Bruins had two power play chances. Krejci had the best chance, but had his shot blocked.
Despite firing 19 shots at Leafs goaltender James Reimer in the first period, the Bruins and Maple Leafs were scoreless after the opening 20 minutes. The second period got off to a better start when, just 19 seconds into 2nd period, Bergeron scored his 22nd goal of the season to put Boston up 1-0. The goal was assisted by Brad Marchand and Krejci, and was notably eerily similar to the overtime goal Bergeron scored against this very team and goaltender in overtime of game seven in the 2013 first round of the playoffs.
The Bruins dominant play faded as the second period progressed. With 5:30 remaining in the middle frame, the Leafs notched the game-tying goal. James van Riemsdyk was credited with the goal, which came off of a face-off win in the Bruins zone after a poor decision to ice the puck.
Pastrnak had seven shots on net in the game, and that doesn’t include his golden opportunities such as this one that missed the net on the rebound of a Ryan Spooner shot.
The third period was scoreless thanks to both Tuukka Rask and Reimer making huge saves for their teams. They even got a little help from teammates, such as when Brad Marchand had what seemed like a sure goal, but somehow Leafs defenseman Jake Gardiner got his stick on the puck to deflect it wide.
At one point in the third period, Chara appeared to suffer an injury when he blocked a shot off of his foot. He was clearly in a lot of pain, although he refused to go to the locker room and remained on the bench and in the game.
Some of Rask’s biggest saves came in a sequence with about seven minutes left in the third period. He stacked the pads to deny Joffrey Lupul.
Pastrnak had yet another chance late in the third period on an excellent pass from Milan Lucic, but was once again denied by Reimer.
The game went to overtime, which was another scoreless affair. Thus it was onto the shootout, which hasn’t been kind to the Bruins this season. Tuukka Rask and Patrice Bergeron made sure that wasn’t the case on Saturday as both stepped up to secure that crucial second point in the standings. As the Bruins second shooter, Bergeron bookended the game’s goal scoring as he netted the only goal of the shootout, beating Reimer with a nifty move.
Rask did his part to save his team, stopping all three shooters for the Maple Leafs: Tyler Bozak, James van Riemsdyk, and lastly, Nazem Kadri.
Rask celebrated joyously with the third and final save, and everyone in New England breathed a sigh of relief.