The Boston Bruins visibly were sluggish in their first game after the All-Star break, and it resulted in an ugly loss to the Anaheim Ducks on Tuesday, in turn ending their 18-game point streak.
Thursday was a whole different story.
The Bruins looked like a totally different team against a talented St. Louis Blues team, and the results were clear in a 3-1 win at TD Garden.
From the start, there was massive improvement when it came to first-period performance. Of late the B’s have come out of the gate sluggish, even when variables such as location and days of rest have been in their favor. Thursday’s win was different. The Bruins came out flying and ensured that the Blues didn’t put them in a quick hole, and the result was noticeable.
Boston scored the first goal of the game on a hectic David Krejci tally, which snapped a nasty trend of conceding the first goal, something the Bruins had done in the previous eight games.
“We just got sick of losing,” head coach Bruce Cassidy joked to reporters following the game, via a team-provided transcript. “I think our guys did respond well knowing that this is the type of game you’re going to see down the road, and you got to be comfortable in them and be able to win your share. So, I do believe that our guys were prepared to get their noses dirty when need be and still play a speed game when the situation dictated.”
Altogether, the Bruins outshot the Blues 46-33, and had it not been for some stellar play from St. Louis netminder Jake Allen, the result could have been far more lopsided.
Part of that can be attributed to the lines gelling a bit more than they did against the Ducks. With Brad Marchand serving the third of his five-game suspension, and Noel Acciari and Anders Bjork both out with injury, there was valid concern that the Bruins’ offense could easily stagnate again.
Instead, emergency call-up Peter Cehlarik fit in well on the third line left wing, skating with Riley Nash and David Backes. And the top line didn’t require frequent reshuffling as it did Tuesday, with Danton Heinen helping to keep things flowing well as a stable presence alongside Patrice Bergeron and David Pastrnak.
Now, the Bruins don’t have to constantly worry about keeping a streak alive. And in winning Thursday, the Bruins showed they can learn on the fly, have a short memory and not get bogged down, especially after Tuesday’s performance.
They’ll be tested again soon, however. They have just one day off until they host a divisional rival in the Toronto Maple Leafs. Though the B’s have four games in hand on Toronto, the Leafs trail Boston by just three points in the standings and assuredly will be yet another team clawing at the Bruins and hoping to catch them on a bad night.
Here are some other notes from Bruins-Blues:
— The Bruins now are 19-1-5 this season when scoring first.
— Tuukka Rask has earned a point in 19 consecutive decisions.
— Kevan Miller left the game early and missed the entire third period. He has an upper body injury and more details will be available Friday.
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