They entered the night 1-6-0 in their past seven games. The Blues were coming in on a five-game win streak, during which they had collectively allowed just one goal. They also had run going of 11 wins in 13 games. Brian Elliott had won straight nine straight game between the pipes for St. Louis.
The task seemed daunting, but the Bruins were up for it — until the final buzzer.
At the end of 60 minutes, they had earned themselves a 6-5 win over the Blues, and a huge two points. With the victory, they stayed third in the Atlantic Division, one point ahead of the Red Wings, who earned a 3-2 win over the Wild.
Patrice Bergeron fired in the game-winner late in the third on the power play to reach his third 30-goal season.
“I’m happy I was able to to get it, but at the same time, was definitely more happy to get that extra goal and ultimately it ended up being the extra goal that we needed,” Bergeron said postgame. “So I was happy for that.”
David Krejci put up two goals and two assists to match his career-high of four points in one game.
“Krejci was outstanding tonight,” said Head Coach Claude Julien. “Without a doubt, our best player. You know, when he’s at his best, he can lead our hockey club.”
“Also, he can certainly ignite his line and that’s what he did tonight — being the best player on that line, he just made everybody else that much better. And [Matt] Beleskey scoring that goal off the faceoff, David scored that goal from that rebound that he jumped on, so big player for us tonight.”
Beleskey came through with a goal and an assist, along with Loui Eriksson, while John-Michael Liles assisted on the night’s first two goals in his return from a lower-body injury.
Frank Vatrano also added a goal, as 10 Bruins picked up at least one point.
“I mean, it’s good to see that the puck went in the net for us,” said Krejci. “We’ve been kind of struggling the past few games, so hopefully we can build some confidence for our next games.”
Both teams took a few shifts to settle into the game, though Ryan Spooner created a takeaway in his first shift back in the lineup since leaving the game in Toronto with an undisclosed injury last Saturday.
Tuukka Rask had to save three drives through traffic early on, and was up to the task.
Once again, though, the Bruins found themselves in a 1-0 hole, when Jaden Schwartz capitalized on a 2-on-1 rush with 5:56 left in the first period.
The sequence could have turned grim for the Bruins, when just 24 seconds after the Blues’ goal, defenseman Kevan Miller suffered a hard collision into the boards to the right of Rask’s net. After being tended to, Miller needed help from Krejci and Joe Morrow to get off the ice, with a round of applause as support from the fans. He did not return to the game with a lower-body injury.
But just 13 seconds after Miller’s collision, Eriksson struck to tie the game at 1-1 with 5:15 to go in the period. Liles made a perfect heads-up pass from the defensive zone through the middle to Eriksson, who corralled the puck and beat Elliott for his 28th of the season.
Only 1:50 later, Krejci put the Bruins on top 2-1 with 3:25 on the clock in the first. After Matt Beleskey’s bid, Krejci dragged the loose puck by Elliott’s pad. Liles again had the quick, alert pass to make the play happen.
The Blues answered in the second period to make it 2-2, when Paul Stastny potted a loose puck in front after miscommunication around Rask.
“Stick with it, and we did that,” Krejci said of the team’s reaction after St. Louis tied it.
“It would have been easy for us, especially with what’s happened lately, to kind of get back on our heels and get a little nervous, but we went right back after it and managed to score three more goals,” said Julien. “So that was probably the turning point of the game right there — it was huge for us to be able to respond that way.”
Beleskey made it 3-2 midway through the middle frame, ripping a shot high glove after a clean faceoff win by Krejci directly back to him.
Frank Vatrano made it 4-2, off a slick centering dish from Lee Stempniak. Spooner also assisted on the tally.
Krejci struck on the power play about three minutes later to give Boston a 5-2 lead heading to the third.
“We did a great job around the net area,” said Julien. “We were jumping on those loose pucks. As you saw, there were a couple of goals there with some rebounds…I think our guys did a better job of getting pucks to the net from the blueline, which helped a lot, too.”
“So, you know, different things [helped]. Like I said to you guys earlier, we scored pretty well all year, we weren’t going to stay dry forever, so it’s nice to see us score some goals.”
The Bruins went 5-for-5 on the penalty kill in the game, and had to kill off the remaining 38 seconds of a penalty to start to the third period.
Boston needed their strongest period in the third. The Blues would by no means back down.
Jake Allen replaced Elliott in goal, and St. Louis reduced its deficit to two goals at 3:56 into the third period. With havoc around Rask, Robert Bortuzzo found the loose puck and roofed it over the netminder who was down and out.
St. Louis pounced on another loose puck less than four minutes later to make it a one-goal game.
The game ultimately came down to a Bruins’ power play with 4:05 to go.
When Torey Krug’s drive kicked off the end boards, Bergeron was there to punch in the eventual game-winner.
“The mentality was to do the job and really try to get the extra goal and especially with four minutes left, we liked our chances,” said Bergeron. “It was about trying to make a play and try and bear down, put the puck on net, and we did that.”
The Blues kept it interesting when Kevin Shattenkirk scored with 20.7 on the clock.
Postgame, Julien saw the push from St. Louis get amplified by the fact that the Bruins down to five defensemen for the final two periods.
“Well, that’s just it. I think our D’s did a great job,” said Julien. “I think the breakdowns weren’t necessarily from dump-ins, more than it was battles there around the net area and I think we could have done a better job there personally, but overall, I think our five guys did a good job holding the fort for a good portion of the game.”
The Bruins will now take their two points with them to Chicago, where the Blackhawks await a Sunday morning matchup (with puck drop at 11:30 a.m. local time).
“You see that Detroit won their game as well, and we don’t want to wait till the last minute, so hopefully this gets us back on track here,” said Julien. “We’ve got another big game against Chicago, so they’re not easy games, but as I told the players before the game, anybody can win in this league on any given night, so why not us?”
“Just go out there, and play to win, and we did just that.”