January 12, 2014

Bruins shutout Sharks, end road swing on high note

By Jesse Connolly

Tuukka Rask denies Joe Pavelski, the Sharks leading goal-scorer, during Saturday's game in San Jose. (Getty Images)

Final: Boston 1, San Jose 0

Recap: Can we skip right to the third period? No? Alright. Fine. The Sharks controlled play in the first period. Boston held the territorial edge in the second, during which Kevan Miller and Mike Brown dropped the gloves, and the B's went 0-for-2 on the man advantage (putting zero shots on net during either power play).

Which takes us to the third, when Boston fell to 0-for-3 on the night on the PP but, more importantly, got on the board with 7:35 to go, as Carl Soderberg opened and closed the scoring. This game was so uneventful I couldn't even stretch this out to three paragraphs.

Or could I?

Records: Boston 29-14-2, 60 points; San Jose 28-12-6, 62 points

Key Play of the Game: With seemingly nowhere to go at the line of scrimmage, LeGarrette Blount found a seam in the Colts defense and ran 73 yards for, wait, wrong game? I'll try that again.

With under eight minutes left in regulation, Ryan Spooner had two defenders on him along the boards but made a pass down to Carl Soderberg. Soderberg got it in front to Loui Eriksson, whose shot was partially blocked, allowing Soderberg to come out of the corner and fire one home past an out-of-position Antti Niemi.

Connolly's Commendations: It's been a weird past month or so for Tuukka Rask, who had two pretty dismal starts against Anaheim and Los Angeles to start this trip, allowing eight goals on 38 shots. But the Finnish netminder bounced back Saturday with a much-needed shutout. If his confidence was shaken at all, this win should definitely give it a nice boost.

Boston's third line was their best trio of forwards. Soderberg tied for the team lead with three shots, the ever-improving Spooner notched an assist and held his own at the dot, and Eriksson had an impressive showing in his return to the lineup with an assist and two takeaways in 13:18 of ice time.

Connolly's Critiques: Well, this sounds pretty awful. During their three-game trip through California, Boston got precisely one point out of its top two lines: an assist from Jarome Iginla in the Anaheim game. David Krejci, Patrice Bergeron, Milan Lucic (missed L.A. game), Reilly Smith and Brad Marchand had goose eggs across the board. Not exactly how you'd hope they'd fare against the best of the West. 

Notes: Boston became just the second visiting team to hand the host Sharks a regulation loss. ... Shawn Thornton saw 8:42 of action in his return from a 15-game ban. He had one shot, no hits and no penalty minutes. ... Johnny Boychuk missed the game after flying home to be with his wife, who was expecting twins.

Final Thoughts: The trip still goes down as a failure, but the Bruins will at least head back to Boston with their heads held high, following a win over an injury-riddled-yet-still-formidable Sharks team.

Next: The B's will host the slumping Maple Leafs on Tuesday at TD Garden.

Twitter: @JesseNEHJ
Email: jconnolly@hockeyjournal.com