Final: Boston 4, Dallas 2
Recap: It took 39:56 for someone to open the scoring, but there were certainly plenty of chances for each team along the way. The B's thought they got on the board midway through the first when the puck bounced off Greg Campbell's skate and through Kari Lehtonen's wickets, but the folks in Toronto reviewing the tally apparently saw a distinct kicking motion. Lehtonen came up with a big stop on a shorthanded break by Brad Marchand with five minutes left in the frame.
With four seconds remaining in the second period, David Krejci finally put an end to the stretch of scoreless hockey, beating Lehtonen to send Boston into the intermission with a 1-0 lead. Early in the third, Erik Cole deflected a puck sent toward the net by Tyler Seguin that found its way past Chad Johnson, tying things up at 1-1. Precisely two minutes later, Marchand found twine to restore the B's lead.
The Bruins made it a two-goal game when Milan Lucic redirected a shot from Krejci past Lehtonen on a Boston power play, making it 3-1 with 4:14 to go. Things got a little hairy when Jamie Benn made it a one-goal game again with 1:11 to go, but Johnson came up with a big stop on Cody Eakin and Patrice Bergeron iced the game with an empty-netter.
Records: Boston 30-15-2, 62 points; Dallas 21-19-7, 49 points
Key Play of the Game: In the second period, Erik Cole was initially whistled for goalie interference. Replay showed it was Zdeno Chara that got a piece of Johnson, somehow dinging him right below the eye with his stick, leaving the netminder bloodied and in need of medical attention. He was somehow sewn back up quickly and, like a true trooper, finished the game, despite having one of his contacts knocked out.
Connolly's Commendations: Three cheers for Lucic and Krejci, who took advantage of a Dallas team that's been struggling defensively and busted out of their slumps in the process. Lucic had just one goal in his last 18 games, while Krejci had gone five-straight contests without a point.
Great game for Torey Krug, who's struggled to be as effective on the road as he is on home ice. The rookie blueliner assisted on Boston's power-play tally and forced Lehtonen to make a pair of Grade A glove stops earlier in the evening.
This was easily one of the best games the fourth line has played this season. They were tremendous on the forecheck. Campbell won 9-of-12 faceoffs.
On the defensive side of things, Johnny Boychuk had a game-high six blocked shots. The rest of the B's had eight combined.
Connolly's Critiques: They must've been given out free apple pie and ice cream or something in the penalty box tonight, as Adam McQuaid made three separate trips to the sin bin (twice for roughing, once for interference). I have no concrete evidence McQuaid likes apple pie, but I enjoy it enough that I'd have a hard time not putting my team shorthanded in order to get my hands on it. So that's how my thought process worked there. Anyways...
Notes: Ex-Bruin Tyler Seguin finished the game with two assists. ... Former Star Reilly Smith had an assist and was plus-2. ... No points for longtime Dallas winger Loui Eriksson.
Final Thoughts: This was exactly the type of win you'd expect out of the Bruins when they're playing their game and taking on a foe that's been damn near dismal in 2014. Boston came in having lost three of their last five games, during which they gave up plenty of goals themselves, so them taking care of business was no sure thing, But Johnson was extremely sharp and the first line led the way up front.
Next: Boston will head to Chicago for a Stanley Cup Final rematch with the Blackhawks Sunday.