The Boston Bruins broke out of their goal-scoring slump against an unlikely opponent Friday night, and the result was a massively important road victory.
David Krejci scored twice and added two assists in the first four-point game of his career, four other Bruins tallied multiple points, and Boston withstood a furious third-period rally to take down the St. Louis Blues 6-5 at the Scottrade Center.
St. Louis had won each of its previous five games entering the inter-conference tilt, outscoring its opponents 15-1 in the process. Boston, meanwhile, had dropped six of its previous seven games, managing just 10 total goals over that span.
The win allowed the Bruins to maintain their one-point lead over the Detroit Red Wings for the Atlantic Division’s third and final guaranteed playoff spot. Detroit, which visits Boston on Thursday, kept pace by knocking off the Minnesota Wild 3-2.
IT WAS OVER WHEN…
Patrice Bergeron potted a power-play goal with 3:24 left to play to all but clinch the win for the Bruins.
Krejci’s second goal of the night gave Boston a seemingly comfortable 5-2 lead late in the second period, but St. Louis rallied, as Robert Bortozzo and Alex Pietrangelo both scored in the first half of the final frame to pull the Blues to within one. That’s as close as they would get, though, Bergeron’s clutch tally sealed the deal.
The goal was Bergeron’s 30th of the season, the third time in his career he has reached that mark.
Kevin Shattenkirk scored the Blues’ fifth goal with 20.7 seconds remaining to close out the scoring.
Desperate for an offensive spark, Bruins coach Claude Julien moved winger Loui Eriksson up to the first line alongside Brad Marchand and Bergeron. Lee Stempniak, Marchand and Bergeron’s usual right wing, skated on the third line with Frank Vatrano and Ryan Spooner, who returned to the lineup after missing one game with a lower body injury.
Seth Griffith played in his first game for the Bruins since New Year’s Day after being recalled Wednesday from Providence. He lined up at right wing on Boston’s fourth line, with Jimmy Hayes sitting out as a healthy scratch.
After allowing just one goal over their previous five games, the Blues surrendered two in the first period Friday night.
Jaden Schwartz scored on a 2-on-1 to put St. Louis on the board first, but Eriksson responded with a goal of his own just 41 seconds later. Defenseman John-Michael Liles, who sat out Boston’s previous two contests with a lower body injury, set up the goal with a beautiful stretch pass.
The Bruins jumped ahead less than two minutes later, with Krejci slapping a Matt Beleskey rebound past Blues goalie Brian Elliott.
Liles also picked up an assist on the play, giving the blueliner his first multi-point game since April 6 of last year. Beleskey and Eriksson each finished with a goal and an assist.
BLACK AND BLUE
The Bruins already were missing one defenseman with Dennis Seidenberg (lower body injury) remaining back in Boston, and they lost another one late in the first period.
Moments before Eriksson’s goal, Kevan Miller collided awkwardly with the corner boards after absorbing a check from Blues winger Magnus Paajarvi.
Miller had to be helped off the ice and did not return with what the team termed a lower body injury.
One period later, the Bruins saw winger David Pastrnak come down awkwardly on his right leg after a brush with Shattenkirk.
Pastrnak skated gingerly off the ice but later returned.
PADDING THEIR LEAD
Elliott’s uncharacteristically rough night continued in the second period, as Boston potted three more goals in the middle frame.
Beleskey provided the first to put the B’s back ahead after a tying goal by St. Louis’ Paul Stastny. Krejci assisted on the play.
Then, it was Vatrano’s turn. The rookie fired one of his patented rocket wrist shots into the back of the Blues’ net to make it 4-2 Bruins.
Vatrano now has four points (two goals, two assists) in five games since his latest NHL call-up. He managed just seven points (six goals, one helper) in 30 contests in his first stint with the big club.
Krejci followed with a power-play goal to put the visitors up 5-2 with 1:50 remaining in the second.
Elliott was yanked after the second period, with Jake Allen taking over netminding duties for the final frame.
The Bruins will play their final road game of the regular season Sunday afternoon against a Chicago Blackhawks team that could be missing several key players.
Thumbnail photo via Ed Mulholland/USA TODAY Sports Images
Thumbnail photo via Boston Bruins left wing Matt Beleskey
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