October 3, 2013

Rask up to the task in season-opening win over Bolts

By Jesse Connolly

Tuukka Rask keeps an eye on a sprawled-out Ondrej Palat. (Photo: Sharon Bradley/New England Hockey Journal)

Final: Boston 3, Tampa Bay 1

Recap: With 8:21 gone in the opening frame and Boston shorthanded, Chris Kelly was interfered with while coming in alone on a breakaway, prompting a penalty shot. The center effectively deked to his right, getting Anders Lindback to bite before tucking in a shot on the backhand to give the Bruins a 1-0 lead.

In what was mostly a painfully uneventful second period (the teams combined for eight shots in the first 16 minutes of action), Lightning newcomer Val Filppula scored midway through the period on a nice feed around a defender by blueliner Eric Brewer, who charged up on the rush. Boston regained the lead with precisely a minute to go in the period when Milan Lucic ripped a David Krejci feed past Lindback.

At 4:02 of the third, the B's notched their second shorty via Patrice Bergeron's first goal of the season. That was pretty much all she wrote, as Tuukka Rask and Co. kept the Bolts at bay.

Records: Boston 1-0-0; Tampa Bay 0-1-0

Key Play of the Game: Boston's third goal of the game seemed to be quite deflating for Tampa. Bergeron and Torey Krug came up the ice on a 2-on-1. Bergeron kept it all the way and ripped a shot that trickled through Lindback and over the goal line to give the B's a two-goal lead with less than 16 minutes to play.

Connolly's Commendations: I really liked what I saw out of the line of Bergeron, Brad Marchand and Loui Eriksson. They didn't produce a whole helluva lot in the preseason, but the chemistry seemed to be coming along as the game wore on. The trio was responsible for Boston's best puck-possession shifts on the night. Each forward had two shots on goal.

Quite the well-rounded night for Kelly. He scored on the penalty shot, had some really good shifts alongside Jordan Caron (who had a goal foolishly waived off and was robbed on a later chance) and Reilly Smith, and won 12-of-17 (69%) faceoffs.

Last but not least, Rask was deservedly named the No. 1 star of the game. He had some gorgeous stops along the way, keeping the Bolts two big guns off the board en route to a 32-save performance.

Connolly's Critiques: The only Bruin that looked noticeably shaky was Dougie Hamilton. The second-year pro was indecisive on opening night. He made some bad pinches and fished for the puck when he could've used his 6-foot-5 frame.

Notes: For Kelly, that was the first penalty shot of his NHL career. There were a pair of bouts in this one. Pierre-Cedric Labrie got some good shots in on Shawn Thornton, while Jarome Iginla pummeled Radko Gudas, who strangely looked like he was trying to rip Iginla's helmet off after it was, well, already off. Maybe he thought he could rip his head off. It was awkward.

Final Thoughts: It wasn't always pretty, but it rarely is for any NHL club in their first of 82 contests. Boston got the goals they needed, silenced Tampa's star forwards (who failed on two lengthy 5-on-3 power plays) and got a strong performance out of No. 40 in net.

Next: The Red Wings will come to TD Garden on Saturday at 7 o'clock.

Twitter: @JesseNEHJ
Email: jconnolly@hockeyjournal.com