Another Eastern Conference opponent for the Dallas Stars. Another loss with no points earned.
After breaking their six-game losing streak with a shaky win over the Oilers Tuesday night the offensive drought continued for Dallas as they dropped yet another in front of the Americans Airlines Center crowd thanks to Boston goals from top names in Krejci, Lucic and Marchand.
The Stars headliners, meanwhile, were kept off the score sheet again (save a perfunctory goal from Jamie Benn in the waning moments) , while Erik Cole scored a goal he didn't intend, or see.
Kari Lehtonen was brilliant in facing 40 shots, keeping the game knotted at zero through 39:56, then standing on his head for as long as he could in the third before capitulating like the defense in front of him.
The Bruins enjoyed odd-man rush after odd-man rush throughout the night, winning puck battles and stifling the Stars' power play with a bevy of shorthanded opportunities. The shot attempts were not uneven. The quality was, and in a very big way.
Another frustrating result for Ruff's bunch.
It felt like a road game in the first. With a loud pro-Bruin crowd and survival the first order of business.
The Stars were under fire immediately as on back-to-back shifts Trevor Daley and Alex Goligoski combined to allow a two-on-one and then a mad scramble ending in a Bruin goal that wasn't, luckily, because Campbell kicked it past Kari Lehtonen soccer style. Dallas narrowly escaped the ensuing Bruin power play and struggled to create scoring chances.
The Stars led in shots-on-goal throughout but it was the Bruins who were taking it to them, possessing the puck and threatening at will.
A Dallas Stars power play was a good opportunity to get things on track, but it allowed a shorthanded break away, among other chances, and generated nothing of its own.
Then Vern Fiddler, winning the first battle for the Stars of the night, seemingly, managed to drag Chara to the press box in a post-whistle scrum. The Stars managed to allow another golden shorthanded chance before the Bruins took a too many men penalty, and 32 seconds of two-man advantage was enough for the Stars to escape the period unscathed.
The Stars began the period on the power play but it was the Bruins who continued to carry, nay, dominate play, out-shooting Dallas 11-1 in the frame's first nine minutes before a bout of 4-on-4 hockey stemmed the tide and allowed the Stars to find their legs a bit.
The Stars went on an 11-6 shot run to close the frame, including another failed power play after a delay of game on Boychuk with six minutes remaining.
Kari Lehtonen made brilliant stops throughout while Chad Johnson had a rough time at the other end after Zdeno Chara clubbed him in the face with his ample stick, drawing blood though the helmet remained intact.
The Stars escaped unscathed again. Well, they almost did. With 4.0 seconds remaining the repeated turnovers and defensive coverage issues finally gave the Bruins the lead they deserved from the word "Go" when David Krejci was left wide, wide open in the slot and finally beat Kari Lehtonen to change the game.
Much to the delight of the Bruins vocal majority.
Tasked with responding to a devastating goal, the Stars managed to earn a power play in the early going, and had a bit of luck on their side after all when Erik Cole, picking himself up off the ice, had the puck tick off his stick, though he was scarcely aware of it. And the game was tied.
And as quickly as that happened Cole turned it over deep in his own end and Brad Marchand, of all people, was able to walk out in front with it and beat Lehtonen to restore the Bruins' lead.
A shorthanded breakaway for the Ginger Ninja proved fruitless during and Alex Goligoski tripping penalty and the Stars chased while falling behind in the shots category as Lehtonen continued to carry the load.
They got their chance. Goligoski drew an interference call and gave them their chance with about 7:30 to play, and they continued to give up shorthanded opportunities, losing puck battles and turning the puck over.
Then it was Ray Whitney's turn to sit, and the Bruins scored their third on their 40th shot of the night. Game, set, match.
Jamie Benn added one late but the damage was done.
Lindy Ruff showed incredible patience with Alex Goligoski and Sergei Gonchar to start the season, much to your collective discontent. How much he'll show Goligoski and Daley is the subject of much speculation. They were out-matched from the onset tonight in giving up odd-man rushes and the first "no goal". It continued throughout, culminating in the mess at the end of the second.
I thought Val Nichushkin had better jump tonight.
Kari Lehtonen was brilliant and if not for him the Bruins would have had, and deserved to, a much bigger lead heading into the third period. You can't keep wasting these performances from your brightest spot.
Speaking of bright spots- Tyler Seguin and Jamie Benn have to find a way to be more of one more consistently, because the eye ball test seemed to favor, at least from the press box, Cody Eakin and company once more tonight.
Kudos to Vern Fiddler for going after Chara like that. It's as brave as it is crazy. He was feisty tonight. Linemate Shawn Horcoff doubly so, perhaps overly.
Size is a disadvantage in games like this, but credit the Bruins game plan, as well. The Stars weren't allowed to carry or dump, and pressed so hard sometimes the odd-man rushes were easy to come by the other way for Boston.
I love Loui Eriksson. I didn't think he was particularly good in this game and I don't know where his game is going long term with the concussion issues, and that stinks, but I enjoyed seeing him here tonight. I like to root for guys like that. The guys that easily believable as high-quality human beings with buckets of moral fiber. Hard working guy. Nice guys. Professional. It's a shame that any future success for him means the same for the Bruins.
The shorthanded chances against... the four-forward power play look... The power play, despite scoring, reached a new low tonight in terms of possession. They can't win puck battles when they have an extra man out there.
Bruce Levine correctly did not make Chad Johnson a star of the game. He faced 34 shots. Nearly none of them were dangerous.