The Bruins had to kill 1:43 of a 5-on-3 in their win over the Flyers. (Bob DeChiara/USA Today Sports)
On an odd-man rush heading towards Tuukka Rask, first-year pro defenseman Brandon Carlo made the goal-saving decision to hook Flyers winger Wayne Simmonds. 17 seconds after that, Brad Marchand was whistled for a high-stick on Shayne Gostisbehere.
In less than 20 seconds, the Bruins were down their defender who logs the second-most shorthanded time on ice among B’s defensemen and the winger on their go-to penalty-killing forward pairing.
Against a power play featuring Claude Giroux, Gostisbehere, and Simmonds, that’s by all means a goal against and an 0-1 hole.
But the Bruins instead buckled down, paid the price, and successfully leaned on their remaining shorthanded talents to make the kill.
In 1:43 of action against Bruins netminder Tuukka Rask, the Flyers put seven shots on net, and that number would have been higher had it not been for two key blocks from Adam McQuaid, who was tasked with squaring up against Giroux on the kill.
“It’s part of penalty killing, especially 5-on-3 that you’re doing everything that you can to block shots and have your stick in passing lanes,” McQuaid nonchalantly said after the win, the club’s 10th in 13 games under interim head coach Bruce Cassidy. “It’s not a favorable position to be in so you’re kind of just not necessarily in desperation mode, you kind of have to be in control but at the same time you’re doing whatever you can to kill that time off.”
A message and mindset echoed by the team’s 39-year-old captain.
“You do whatever you have to do and sacrifice,” Bruins captain Zdeno Chara said of the blocks on the kill. “Obviously, blocking shots, having good stick, do whatever you can to prevent them from using their number one or two plays and try to take that away from them. Obviously, be compact, and every time you have a chance to clear, you just clear and waste some time.”
In one of the worst situations they could have found themselves in late in the period, the Bruins got contributions from everybody — with big blocks, faceoff wins, and a box-out of sorts — which kept the Flyers from doing much of anything against Rask.
“Well, our penalty kill has been rock solid all year,” Cassidy said. “It always starts with the goaltender. Tuukka was great, under control on those, was able to be square to rebounds. [Zdeno Chara] generally stays out there the whole time, big stick, and McQuaid ate pucks when they did change sides on us, and Bergy [Patrice Bergeron] is Bergy. He does a great job of it. Dom [Dominic Moore] got a little piece at the end. So, again, guys that we’ve relied on all year in our five-on-three.”
In addition to the McQuaid blocks, which effectively took Giroux out of the equation from a shooting standpoint, Philly was left to take low-percentage looks from Jakub Voracek from 50 feet out, while Simmonds was held to just two net-front chances, where he’s made his living, with 41 power-play goals (second-most in the NHL behind Alex Ovechkin) since the start of the 2014 season.
“At some point, you’re going to give up something. They’re two guys more than you are, so obviously, it’s about trying to take away the most dangerous plays,” Patrice Bergeron, who won his two defensive-zone draws during the penalty kill, admitted. “He made some huge saves in that five-on-three and we were able to kill that off which was big for us.”
“A few nice blocks and then we kept them on the perimeter as much as we could,” Rask said of the tone-setting kill. “It’s all about being smart and eliminating the worst possible scoring chance that you get. I think we did that.”
It was almost immediately after the kill that the Bruins were gifted a power play of their own, and connected on a David Pastrnak goal, which gave the B’s a 1-0 edge through 20 minutes and likely prevented the B’s from a potential second period freefall.
With two successful kills on the afternoon, the Bruins bumped their season penalty kill to 86.0 percent, which is the second best mark in the league, and just 0.6 percentage points off from the best mark in the entire NHL.