By Ty Anderson, 985TheSportsHub.com
The Bruins have a tall task ahead of them when it comes to finishing the job they started last year.
But there’s no doubt that the Bruins got off to the best start possible, as they scored on their first two shots of the new season and muscled out a 2-1 win over the Stars on Thursday night at the American Airlines Center.
Brett Ritchie kicked things off for the B’s when he took advantage of a non-challenge from Stars defender Andrej Sekera and beat Ben Bishop just 1:09 into the first period. For Ritchie, who was originally slated to begin the year as the team’s healthy scratch up front, it was just about the perfect start to his year; the goal came on his first shot of the season (and first shot in a Bruins uniform), after a four-goal 2018-19, and against the team that decided to move on from him this past summer.
And on their first power-play opportunity of the new year, it was Danton Heinen who put the Bruins up by two.
On a play sparked by Charlie Coyle’s decision to take the puck around the net for a better look (and clean possession), the Bruins moved the puck from Matt Grzelcyk to Charlie McAvoy to Heinen for No. 43’s first strike of the new year.
Outside of the goals, the first period saw the Bruins come through with quick d-zone exits and almost no second-chance opportunities for a highly-talented Stars forward group. The team also had Bishop spinning in his crease, and nearly extended their lead to three before the end of the period on a great power-play look from Coyle to Heinen.
It was enough for a two-goal edge through the opening 20 minutes of the season, but Boston flirted with danger in the middle period, and it took two simple mistakes on the same shift for the Stars to make them pay on the scoreboard.
As Coyle attempted to dance through multiple Dallas skaters in the attacking zone, Zdeno Chara made his way to the Boston bench for a change. But Coyle was unable to hang onto the puck through the sea of Dallas sweaters, which left Joe Pavelski to deliver the perfect zone-exit feed to Mattias Janmark, and for Janmark to hit Roope Hintz for a breakaway on Tuukka Rask. Hintz turned on the jets and burned everybody — Rask, McAvoy, and the victim of Chara’s ill-timed change (Grzelcyk) — for a goal that brought the Stars within a goal after 40 minutes of action.
Protecting their one-goal lead entering the final period of play, the Bruins were tested just moments into the third period, as a Zdeno Chara penalty sent the team to the penalty kill for just the second time on the night. Rask was under serious duress during that two-minute sequence, and made five saves in total, including two net-front stops on Radek Faksa, and a stop of a Miro Heiskanen blast from the point with just one second remaining on the man advantage.
It would hardly be the last time Rask stood tall for the B’s in the final frame, as he came through with 16 saves in the third period en route to a 28-of-29 winning effort sealed by massive final-minute blocks from Brad Marchand and Chris Wagner.
Bruins center David Krejci, who was considered a game-time decision due to a lingering lower-body injury, did not suit up for this contest. That threw Bruce Cassidy’s lineup into a slight blender, as Coyle centered Jake DeBrusk and Ritchie throughout the night, while Par Lindholm skated with Heinen and Karson Kuhlman in his Boston debut.
The night went much worse for the Stars, though, as the team lost Blake Comeau, Jason Dickinson, and Roman Polak to in-game injuries. Comeau’s departure came as a result of a puck to the face, while Polak’s ailment was a downright terrifying one, as the veteran defenseman was stretchered off the ice after he mistimed a hit and went shoulder/head-first into the boards.
The Bruins are back at it Saturday night against Phil Kessel and the Arizona Coyotes.