ST. LOUIS — Briefly — a matter of, perhaps, a half-hour — the Bruins slipped out of the playoff structure. The Red Wings had beaten the Wild and, as the Bruins scratched and clawed and saw their lead slip against the Blues, Detroit claimed that third spot in the Atlantic.
Finally, though, the last seconds of the third period ticked off the clock. The Blues had come close — seconds, really — from tying the game. But they couldn’t quite finish it off. And the Bruins, a team that had scored just 10 goals over their last seven games, had scored six against stingy St. Louis.
It was enough to win, enough to take a much-needed, confidence-boosting, mad-scramble of a 2 points at the Scottrade Center in St. Louis by a 6-5 score.
“It definitely feels good,” Patrice Bergeron said. “Makes you get the confidence back, scoring some goals. And you need that, especially down the stretch. Tonight was huge.”
By the end of the first period, the Bruins had scored twice on the Blues. That counted as more goals than the Blues had allowed to their last five opponents — combined.
By the end of the second, the Bruins had scored five times.
“It’s good to see that the puck went in the net for us,” David Krejci said. “Six goals. We’ve been kind of struggling the last few games. So hopefully we can build some confidence for the next games.”
It started after Paul Stastny scored at 5:39 of the second, a goal the Bruins probably should not have given up, with multiple Bruins fumbling the puck around the crease. The goal had tied the score at 2-2 and had seemed a harbinger of bad things to come.
Instead, it seemed to awaken the Bruins.
“I liked our team’s reaction after they tied the game,” coach Claude Julien said. “It would have been easy for us, especially with what’s happened lately, to get back on our heels here, get a little nervous. But we went right back after it, managed to score three more goals. So that was probably the turning point of the game right there. It was huge for us to be able to respond that way.”
First, Matt Beleskey with a bullet off a faceoff win by Krejci, at 9:51. Second, Frank Vatrano with a shot from the slot and a serious fist pump at 15:27. Third, Krejci with a power-play finish at 18:14 after Ryan Spooner had hit the underside of the crossbar.
“I think we did a great job around the net area,” Julien said. “We were jumping on those loose pucks. As you saw, there was a couple of goals there from rebounds. The Beleskey shot where Krejci got it, even the last goal, the winning goal, Bergy off the backboards. We were on top of the puck. We did a better job of that.”
Video: Bergeron’s game-winning goal
The Bruins had opened up a three-goal lead, knocking goalie Brian Elliott out after he had allowed five goals on 23 shots.
Boston would need every single one of those goals – and one more.
The Blues came on strong in the third period, starting with a Robert Bortuzzo goal on Tuukka Rask (25 saves) at 3:56. They crept closer with Alex Pietrangelo’s addition at 7:38. St. Louis was just one goal down, playing against a team that had just five defensemen, after Kevan Miller went down at 14:28 of the first period. He did not return.
But, with 4:05 left, Petteri Lindbohm committed a roughing penalty on Loui Eriksson. And, at 16:36, the Bruins took advantage, with Bergeron recording his 30th of the season.
The Bruins – and their fans – breathed a sigh of relief.
It was short-lived.
With the goalie pulled, Kevin Shattenkirk answered with 20.7 seconds remaining. And, after Adam McQuaid was given a hooking penalty with 10.3 left, the Blues had one final chance to tie the score. They couldn’t.
The Bruins had the win. They had their slot in the playoff structure back.
And though it was a far from perfect game – they allowed five goals, after all – the Bruins had gotten the 2 points that they needed in St. Louis. Ultimately, that was what was most important.
“They’re huge,” Julien said. “You see that Detroit won their game as well. We don’t want to wait til the last minute, so hopefully this gets us back on track here. We’ve got another big game against Chicago. They’re not easy games. But, as I told the players before the game, anybody can win in this league on any given night. Why not us?”
Video: Krejci’s second goal
Amalie Benjamin can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.