Tuukka Rask earned his first shutout of the season Tuesday. (Jared Wickerham/Getty Images)
It’s been rightfully noted here that a lot of the Bruins’ wins at home without Zdeno Chara have come against bad teams, so they deserve credit for defeating a very good team at TD Tuesday.
Tuesday’s game against the Blues could have been a messy affair. The Blues are a well-oiled machine cruising in the much superior Western Conference and had won three straight entering the Garden, but the B’s were able to take a 2-0 win (box) against a team leading the Western Conference in points.
What makes the win all the more impressive for the B’s was that they did it with more injuries. David Krejci returned to the lineup, but Brad Marchand missed the game with an undisclosed injury, while Adam McQuaid was hurt in the second period and didn’t reutn, forcing the Bruins to play most of the game with five defensemen.
The fashion in which the win was accomplished was also impressive. The shorthanded B’s were defensively sound and survived a big third-period push from the Blues as Tuukka Rask earned his first shutout of the season.
The Bruins can take care of their easy games at home, but they also have it in them to beat perhaps the best team in the league right now. Here are four other things were learned Tuesday.
ADAM MCQUAID’S HEALTHY STREAK MIGHT BE ON HOLD
Adam McQuaid played in 20 straight games to begin this season, which is a longer stretch of games played than he was ever able to accomplish in his injury-plagued 2013-14 season. That might be coming to an end.
McQuaid left Tuesday’s game on his second shift of the second period and did not return. He was hit in the right arm or hand by a Kevin Shattenkirk shot that was blocked by Chris Kelly. McQuaid was shaking his right hand/arm immediately following getting hit. He did not play another shift after that.
The veteran defenseman played two stretches of 15 games apiece last season and did not play again after Jan. 19 due to a groin/quad injury.
MATT BARTKOWSKI HAS GOOD GAMES IN HIM
Kevan Miller was cleared to play in Tuesday’s game, but the Bruins opted to keep him in the press box as a healthy scratch against the Blues. Matt Bartkowski stayed in the lineup, playing a second straight game after a mostly positive outing Saturday against the Hurricanes.
Bartkowski was paired with Torey Krug again. He made perhaps the best defensive play of the first period when he stuck with Alexander Steen when the St. Louis blueliner took a pass near the blueline off the rush and took it into the Bruins’ zone. Bartkowski stayed with him stride-for-stride and knocked the puck away before clearing it from the zone. That isn’t particularly easy to do without having to take a penalty, but Bartkowski’s skating and stick allowed him to make the play cleanly.
In the second period, Vladimir was sprung on a breakaway entering the Bruins’ zone. Bartkowski couldn’t stick with him this time, but dove to poke the puck away. That came after Bartkowski assisted a Torey Krug goal.
The 26-year-old defenseman was also well-positioned in his own zone, a big step in the right direction from his early-season struggles with coverage.
MOST OF PATRICE BERGERON‘S GOALS THIS SEASON HAVE COME OFF TURNOVERS
Patrice Bergeron took advantage of a St. Louis turnover when Ian Cole, pressured by Matt Fraser behind the net, blindly reversed the puck. Bergeron jumped on it at the bottom of the right circle and fired it into the net. It was Bergeron’s fifth goal of the season, and if it seemed reminiscent of some of his others, it’s because it was.
The goal marked the third time this season Bergeron has scored a goal off a turnover in the opposition’s zone. Bergeron’s first goal of the season came in Detroit after picking off a Jonathan Ericsson pass, while his goal last week against the Devils came off an Eric Gelinas turnover.
TOREY KRUG DOESN’T NEED NO STINKIN’ SLAP SHOTS
Krug hasn’t taken a whole lot of slap shots in his five games since returning from a broken pinky, but a wrist shot paid off in the second period Tuesday.
After taking a pass from Bartkowski, Krug stepped up and fired a wrist shot from just above the left circle that went off Cole and beat Brian Elliot top-shelf glove side. The goal was Krug’s first goal since returning from injury and third of the season.
Interestingly enough, Krug does not have a goal on a slap shot yet this season. His goal on Oct. 18 against the Sabres came off a wrist shot, while his power-play tally the next game against the Sharks on Oct. 21 came off a snap shot.