Boston Bruins

Boston Bruins

Boston Bruins

If you decided to suddenly — and perhaps finally — undo your learning of how calendars and seasons work, you could’ve easily envisioned Tuesday’s showdown between the Bruins and Stars as being worth more than two points. Maybe even, say, a 35-pound drinking cup with an oversized handle full of players and coaches from the past?

In what was a showdown of the East’s best and the West’s best, the Bruins and Stars did not disappoint, as the sides traded saves, punches, and goals for over 63 minutes of play before David Pastrnak sent the crowd up to their feet and towards the exits with a bomb that put him on his pants.

  • For the Bruins, the victory made the Black and Gold the first team to 40 wins on the season, and tied the NHL record for reaching 40 wins in the fewest games (53) in a single season, tying them with the 2015-16 Washington Capitals.

    And, boy, did tying that record come with its in-game highs and lows.

    Out of the gate with their helmets on fire, the Bruins were credited with 12 of the first 14 shots of this contest. That included the Taylor Hall strike that stood as the winger’s 16th of the year, and his third goal in his last seven games.

    Hall’s tally came with sweet movement through all three zones, and off a beautiful behind-the-net dish from Hampus Lindholm, and with a secondary assist awarded to David Krejci.

    Lindholm’s assist was his 28th of the season, setting a new single-season career-high for the Swedish defenseman, while the point was his 34th of the season, tying his previous single-season career-high. Both were set in Anaheim in 2014-15.

  • But the Stars came roaring back.

    A Roope Hintz response marker from the Stars just 2:38 after the Hall goal knotted things up at 1-1, and that score held through the opening 20 minutes of action in Dallas.

    And then when a defensive-zone breakdown turned a three-on-three into a three-on-one for Dallas, it was the electrifying Jason Robertson who took advantage and put the Bruins in a hole at the 4:17 mark of the middle frame.

    The Bruins continued to try and dig their own grave deeper in that second period with three separate penalties — including back-to-back infractions that put them on the wrong end of a five-on-three for a minute — and whiffed on their lone power-play opportunity of the period, but Linus Ullmark stood tall and refused to let the deficit grow.

    And at the other end, the Stars’ Jake Oettinger refused to budge at all, with a perfect nine-for-nine line in the period.

  • Feb 14, 2023; Dallas, Texas, USA; Dallas Stars goaltender Jake Oettinger (29) stops a shot by Boston Bruins left wing Brad Marchand (63) during the first period at the American Airlines Center. Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

    Feb 14, 2023; Dallas, Texas, USA; Dallas Stars goaltender Jake Oettinger (29) stops a shot by Boston Bruins left wing Brad Marchand (63) during the first period at the American Airlines Center. Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

  • Down by just one entering the third period, the Bruins found their opening when Brandon Carlo drew Dallas skaters towards him and fed a wide-open Pavel Zacha, and Zacha delivered with the game-tying marker with 9:48 remaining in the game.

    The goal continued the post-extension heater for the 25-year-old forward, who is now up to seven goals in 11 games since signing his four-year extension with the Bruins following their game on Jan. 14. That is tied for the fifth-most goals in the NHL over that span.

    And with momentum on his side, Zacha wasn’t done.

    In overtime and after the Bruins successfully killed off a Brad Marchand interference penalty, Zacha took the puck and drove end-to-end, where he hit Charlie McAvoy, who then tossed it to Pastrnak for what would be the game-winning marker.

    The two-point night brought Zacha up to 37 points on the year, setting a new career-high after the Czech-born forward put up 36 points for the Devils last season.

  • In net, Ullmark captured the victory behind a 29-of-31 performance.

    At the other end, the Boston power play continued its recent dive with an 0-for-3 performance, and is now 0-for-20 over the Black and Gold’s last six games. The B’s man advantage is just 3-for-31 dating back to Jan. 18, giving Jim Montgomery’s squad a 9.7 percent success rate, which ranks 30th in the NHL over that stretch.

    But the good news is that the penalty kill stood tall for the Bruins in this one, as they went a perfect 4-for-4. Their last kill of the evening featured some big stones, and also featured a 1:55 shift for Derek Forbort, who put an exclamation point on the ironman shift with a big-time block on the Stars’ Miro Heiskanen.

    And in what was an absolute rarity, the Bruins were downright dominated in faceoffs in this game, and finished with a horrendous 19.4 percent success rate at the dot. It was their worst single-game team performance since the league started tracking faceoff stats back in 1997-98.

    The Bruins will wrap up this quick two-game road trip Thursday night in Nashville.

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