The Bruins were on a four-game losing streak, on the second half of a back-to-back, had their backup goalie in net and were facing a talented Kings team hungry for a win. The odds were stacked against them, but they put together an impressive effort and received goals from Charlie McAvoy and Zdeno Chara in a 2-1 win Thursday night in Los Angeles.
Anton Khudobin made 27 saves on 28 shots and improved his record to 4-0-2 on the season. They could not ask for a better start to the season out of their number two. The defense was without Torey Krug, who is considered day-to-day with an upper-body injury, which puts even more emphasis on Dobby’s performance.
In what has become a rare occurrence, the Bruins scored the first goal of the game and found themselves playing with a lead. Patrice Bergeron won an offensive-zone faceoff back to Charlie McAvoy, and he skated the puck along the boards, finding a lane to the net. The 19-year-old rookie cut across the crease and threw a backhand shot over Jonathan Quick’s blocker for his first goal since opening night.
Early in the second period, Danton Heinen was completely leveled by defenseman Christian Folin after catching a breakout pass in the defensive zone. It was a clean hit, but Bergeron and Pastrnak went after him, and a scrum ensued.
No punches were thrown, but everyone paired up and the play was blown dead. Both Bergeron and Pastrnak were assessed roughing penalties—as was Folin—and the Bruins ended up shorthanded. I am all for players standing up for their teammates when warranted, but this was a clean hit, and I was surprised to see the Bruins respond the way they did. This team hasn’t responded that angrily to more borderline hits in other instances this season.
Drew Doughty scored on the ensuing power play, tying the game 1-1. The Kings are a very talented team with plenty of offensive weapons, so it is important to not give them opportunities to play a man up, especially with your best penalty-killing forward in the box.
All of the calls were going in the Kings’ favor for the first half of the game, with LA getting the first four power play opportunities, but the Bruins finally had a call go in their favor 11:15 into the second period.
In the final seconds of the man advantage, Chara threw a shot on net that found its way past a screened Quick to reclaim the lead.
The puck crossed the line one second after the power play expired, so it was recorded as an even-strength goal. This still had to be a confidence boost for the struggling Bruins power play that already received an upgrade with the return of David Krejci from injury.
The B’s carried their 2-1 lead into the third period and needed a strong effort to close out the game, something that has been an issue at times this year. The Kings kept the majority of play in the Bruins zone late in the game, but the Bruins only allowed one shot in the final 11:15. That is how you close out a game!
With 1:21 remaining and the Kings looking to pull Quick, Riley Nash forced a turnover at the defensive blue line that resulted in him drawing a tripping call. The power play drained the clock and allowed the Bruins to hand LA its fourth straight loss while snapping their own four-game losing streak.
Next up, the Bruins will head to San Jose to take on Joe Thornton and the Sharks on Saturday night. Prepare for another tough game to close out the California road trip.
[Photo via WEEI.com]