By Ty Anderson, 985TheSportsHub.com
For nearly 28 minutes, the Bruins and visiting Ducks provided as much entertainment as a 3 a.m. credit score informercial.
But with a Hampus Lindholm interference penalty drawn by David Pastrnak serving as the 'waking up startled on your couch and asking yourself if that's really Larry King' moment, the Bruins finally found the additional space apparently needed to capitalize on their plethora of chances against the Ducks' John Gibson, and cruised to a 3-1 victory at TD Garden.
Off a faceoff win by David Backes, B's defender Torey Krug came through with a spinning, no-look pass that found Pastrnak all alone to Gibson's right, and No. 88 wasted no time firing home his 22nd goal of the season. And with the beyond-deserved assist on the strike, Krug passed Mike O'Connell on the club's assist leader chart (the 200th of Krug's career), making the Michigan-born defender the franchise's top assist defenseman among American-born players.
Given another power-play chance before the period's end, though, Krug was not done.
With Andrew Cogliano sent to the box for a slash, Krug needed all of seven seconds to score on Gibson, giving the Bruins a back-breaking two-goal edge through 40 minutes of play against Randy Carlyle's lackluster Anaheim squad.
But the Bruins would not have held such a lead had it not been for the play of Jaroslav Halak, especially with the Bruins on the penalty kill, in that middle frame. Still down Patrice Bergeron and with Brad Marchand in the box, the Ducks seemingly had a perfect opportunity to knot things up against Boston's penalty kill when Brandon Montour found space in alone.
Halak had different plans, however, and gave up with perhaps his prettiest save of the season.
— Boston Bruins (@NHLBruins) December 21, 2018
And after what felt like an easy shutout of sorts against the Canadiens on Monday, the 33-year-old Halak certainly earn his pay on Thursday in what finished as a 24-save winning effort, with countless stops from in tight and on his doorstep. Unfortunately for Halak, it was Anaheim's Josh Mahura that ended his shutout bid with just 4:16 left in the third period.
The Bruins would add an insurance marker for Halak in the third period long before the Mahura goal thanks to David Krejci's seventh goal of the season. The goal was also good for point No. 600 of Krejci's NHL career. Elsewhere on the Boston roster, the assist on the Pastrnak power-play goal gave Backes assists in three straight games, while an assist on Krug's power-play strike and Krejci's goal gives Marchand four goals and 13 points in his last seven games.
The Bruins as a team, meanwhile, improved to 14-1-0 when leading after two periods of play this season.
They will square off against the Nashville Predators this Saturday in a matinee affair at TD Garden.