BOSTON — The Bruins played arguably their best defensive game of the season Tuesday night against a St. Louis Blues team with three excellent scoring lines and the second-ranked power play in the NHL.
Boston earned a 2-0 shutout win at TD Garden by keeping a lot of St. Louis’ shots to the perimeter, winning one-on-one puck battles while doing a good job of intercepting and breaking up passes in the neutral zone to slow down the Blues’ transition game.
“As far as the team goes, whenever we play defense like that and keep them on the outside, for the most part, it makes my job easier and I expect to make those saves,” Bruins goalie Tuukka Rask said after his first shutout of the campaign.
“Today that was the case for the most part and helps my job, as I said. It doesn’t matter if you play against the best team in the league or the worst team in the league, if you give them chances in the slot, chances are they’re gonna score, so today we pretty well eliminated that.”
Perhaps the most impressive part of the performance was the Bruins keeping the “STL Line” — Jaden Schwartz-Jori Lehtera-Vladimir Tarasenko — scoreless. This line entered Tuesday’s matchup as hockey’s hottest trio, combining for 25 points (nine goals, 16 assists) in the last five games.
Patrice Bergeron and his line was matched up against that line for a good portion of 5-on-5 play (see chart to the right) and the reigning Selke Trophy winner helped keep this line scoreless for the first time since Oct. 23 versus the Vancouver Canucks.
— Bruins defenseman Adam McQuaid exited the ice and went down the tunnel with about 15 minutes left in the second period. He didn’t return and Bruins head coach Claude Julien had no update after the game.
— First-line center David Krejci returned to the lineup after an undisclosed injury forced him to miss the previous four games. He tallied two shots and won 75 percent of his faceoffs in 17:15 of ice time.
“Yeah, but I felt pretty good today,” Krejci said. “I had a good practice these last few days and felt really good.”
— Torey Krug scored his third goal of the season in the second period. It was his first point since he returned to the lineup after suffering a broken finger on Oct. 28.
“It’s always nice to get the first one out of the way when you come back, so it was a big goal for us,” Krug said. “I think just obviously the second period we always seem to have trouble but we won it 1-0 so that was good.”
— Matt Bartkowski played his best game of the season and earned his first point with a primary assist on Krug’s goal.
“He sat quite a few games,” Julien said. “His play just wasn’t up to par and certainly wasn’t a good asset for us. So we sat him out but we still worked with him and he kept a good attitude and kept working at things during practice. When he got his chance he looked like a guy that was ready, and I thought he was pretty good against Carolina, and no doubt he was even better tonight. So that was a strong performance on his part. So it was encouraging to see (Bartkowski) get back to how we know he can be.”
— The Bruins played a more physical game Tuesday compared to many of their previous contests.
“They have been playing the same way for almost five years now, since the year before or two years before they won the Cup,” Blues captain David Backes said. “They bring their “A” game, they play hard, they don’t give you any room and you have to earn every inch of ice out there.”
— The B’s have six consecutive home wins.
— Boston is 140-8-6 since the start of the 2010-11 season in games in which it has held a two-goal lead.
— Blues defenseman and former Boston University star Kevin Shattenkirk played in his 300th career NHL game.
Thumbnail photo via Greg M. Cooper/USA TODAY Sports Images
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