November 21, 2013

In tightly-contested battle, Blues beat Bruins in shootout

By Jesse Connolly

Derek Roy's goal in the fourth round of the shootout was the game-winner. (Photo: Sharon Bradley/New England Hockey Journal)

Final: St. Louis 3, Boston 2 (SO)

Recap: In what was nearly a perfectly-played period, each goaltender allowed the softest of softies. Greg Campbell opened the scoring with his first tally of the season on a trickler that somehow evaded Jaroslav Halak. Shortly afterward, David Backes sent a puck traveling approximately 0.001 miles per hour past Tuukka Rask.

With 3:56 left in the second period, former BU Terrier Kevin Shattenkirk's shot from the point was tipped by Blues captain David Backes and found twine. Boston responded quickly, tying the game on a pure snipe by Carl Soderberg.

Things remained scoreless through the third and overtime, sending this one to the shootout. Patrice Bergeron tallied right off the hop, but Alex Steen knotted things up after Halak stoned David Krejci. Derek Roy buried the winner in the fourth round to give the Blues the extra point.

Records: St. Louis 15-3-3, 33 points; Boston 14-6-2, 30 points

Key Play of the Game: Roy's goal is probably too easy, so let's stir the pot and say it was, uh, really perplexing that coach Claude Julien went with Chris Kelly in the fourth round of the shootout. It's nothing against Kelly, who does have a penalty shot tally this season, but Soderberg has been "feeling it" of late, Brad Marchand is arguably the team's best 1-on-1 stick-handler, heck, even Torey Krug seems more cut out for such an opportunity. You could do a lot worse than having Kelly give it a go in the shootout, but Julien, without a doubt, bypassed better options. It might've cost the B's a point.

Connolly's Commendations: At this rate, we might be calling Boston's third line the best in the NHL by the time the calendar turns to 2014. Soderberg and Smith, as mentioned above, are really starting to get into a grove. The latter set up the former for a goal, and the pair nearly connected again during a third-period power play. Along with Kelly, the trio combined for three points and nine shots.

Pretty solid NHL debut for Kevan Miller, who looked comfortable in 17:42 of ice time. He was plus-1, had two hits and blocked two shots.

Connolly's Critiques: By no means were there evenings disastrous, but it was a rough night at the office for Krejci and Johnny Boychuk. The latter had a couple bad giveaways in his own zone. The former didn't put a puck on net and now has just 0-1-1 totals in his last seven contests.

I understand Rask's frustration with Roy's stop-and-go shootout goal, and taking the loss, but he has to be careful during his temper tantrums. God forbid he ever hurts himself, Peter Chiarelli and Co. would be none too pleased. You can guarantee they were shaking their heads when No. 40 slammed his stick on the goal post before skating off the ice.

Notes: Shattenkirk notched the 100th assist of his NHL career. ... The Bruins haven't won a home game against the Blues in a dozen years. ... The Blues are now 7-2-1 in their last 10 games.

Final Thoughts: It's a shame the B's couldn't pull out the victory, as this was their most consistent, complete performance to date in 2013-14. The intensity and execution were there all night, and Boston didn't fall victim to one of this half-period lulls that have plagued them in a few too many matchups this season. Quite simply, the Bruins looked great in a game that had a playoff-like feel, and against a team that's essentially a mirror image of the Black and Gold out West.

Next: The Bruins will play host to the Hurricanes on Saturday night.

Twitter: @JesseNEHJ