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Stanley Cup Final

Bruins balanced on special teams entering Game 4 of Cup Final vs. Blues

Boston stingy on penalty kill, potent with man-advantage throughout playoffs

by Tracey Myers @Tramyers_NHL / NHL.com Staff Writer

ST. LOUIS -- The Boston Bruins have generated a lot of attention for their proficient power play during the Stanley Cup Playoffs. 

But the Bruins' penalty kill deserves just as much credit entering Game 4 of the Stanley Cup Final against the St. Louis Blues at Enterprise Center on Monday (8 p.m. ET; NBC, CBC, SN, TVAS) leading the best-of-7 series 2-1. Boston has killed 86.9 of opponents' power-play opportunities (53-for-61), including 4-for-5 in a 7-2 win in Game 3 of the Final. 

The kill has been a complement to the power play, which is best among NHL playoff teams (23-for-64, 35.9 percent). Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy said goalie Tuukka Rask, who is 14-6 with a 1.91 goals-against average and .939 save percentage in 20 playoff games, has been a critical part of their success. Forward David Backes said it's also about the penalty killers being "relentless in their pursuit."

 

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"They're blocking shots and sacrificing their bodies, winning loose pucks," Backes said. "[The Blues] have kept in a fair number of our clears, which has put maybe more pressure on our zone than we've liked. We'd like to have better clears. But that's part of their pressure. They're on you and they're not giving you that free look down the ice. But [the kill] has been good, and we need it to continue to be good."

Video: Krug, Bruins finish perfect on power play in Game 3

The Bruins killed off 21 consecutive power plays before Blues defenseman Colton Parayko scored 5:24 into the third period of Game 3. It's been a frustrating turn of events for St. Louis, which scored at least one power-play goal in the last four games (5-for-15) of the Western Conference Final against the San Jose Sharks.

"They understand when the good opportunities are to jump on loose pucks and the proper ways to jump on those pucks," Parayko said. "Already this series, we've seen they've changed the penalty kill a little bit and try to take away different things. They work together well, they have good pressure points."

Boston has killed nine of 10 power plays in the first three games of the Final.

"I think we've done a good job of not letting them get to these Grade-A chances and Tuukka has been making the saves," forward Joakim Nordstrom said. "Obviously we try to work on our PK on a daily basis and make the best plays that are needed."

The Bruins have been stingy defensively all season, allowing 212 goals in 82 regular-season games and 40 in the playoffs. Defenseman Zdeno Chara said the kill is an extension of that dedication to defense. 

"I think we take a lot of pride in our defense," he said. "Our coaching staff is doing a great job to prepare us for the other teams' power plays. We take a lot of pride in that, so we just have to continue to do that."

Special teams are always critical in the playoffs. As good as the Bruins have been on the man-advantage, their penalty kill has been just as dependable.

"The balance between our power play that can make you pay, and our penalty kill that can pick guys up if we do take penalties, it's been a great combination for us," Backes said.

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