Tuukka Rask sharp, the Bruins didn’t let up, and won their fifth in a row
Rested and ready, the Bruins won their fifth in a row Tuesday night, rolling through a visiting Minnesota club that didn’t have much in the tank. A 4-0 dispatching of the Wild at TD Garden was one of Boston’s more straightforward wins of the season.
Boston (25-14-4), which had two days off, enjoyed watching the Wild squeeze off a 1-0 victory in Montreal the night before, and felt for them when they reportedly landed in Boston at 3 a.m. The Bruins welcomed them by pumping three first-period goals past Minnesota backup Alex Stalock and added a fourth 6:24 into the second period, making sure Minnesota (21-18-3) stayed on the mat for a 60-minute snooze.
Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy acknowledged it was a “tough one for Minny,” which had played four road games in a six-day span, and six of its previous eight away from the Twin Cities. “We’ve been on the other side of it.”
Cassidy’s club, to its credit, didn’t let up.
Three-point nights by Patrice Bergeron and Brad Marchand (1-2—3 each), two assists each from defensemen John Moore and Torey Krug, and Danton Heinen’s first goal in four weeks were more than enough to give Tuukka Rask (24 saves) his first shutout of the season. The Bruins were blocking shots until the end.
“He was under control all night. I thought we did a good job keeping everything clear, for the most part,” Cassidy said. “He was just clean, like the group in front of him.”
Rask has had busier nights. His teammates played in Minnesota’s zone for much of the contest, but midway through the first, Wild center Eric Staal got behind the defensive pair of Matt Grzelcyk and Kevan Miller and broke in. Miller muscled him off, and Rask gloved a backhand bid. That was Minnesota’s best chance until midway through the second, when Rask looked behind him after getting his pads on a tipped shot.
“Past couple weeks, we’re playing tight as a unit. Defending and attacking. We’re smart,” said Rask, who earned his first shutout since last March 17 against Tampa. “The past few games, we’ve been funneling pucks to the net more with some traffic, and today it paid off big time. That’s a great sign. That’s how you’ve got to play come springtime.”
Rask, who has saved 119 of 124 shots in his last four games (4-0-0), earned his 42nd career shutout and 250th win.
It was a cross-conference game without much fussing and no fighting, though Chris Wagner and his tone-setting linemates got in a few hits early, and for Minnesota, 6-foot-6-inch Boston University product Jordan Greenway was ready to run into anyone he saw. A few bumps the rest of the way, but nothing that raised the hair on anyone’s neck.
The Wild power play, missing injured defenseman Matt Dumba (out until March), entered the game in a 1-for-20 funk. They extended that by going 0 for 3, failing to register a shot on the man-advantage.
Boston, which outshot Minnesota, 15-6, in the first period, killed a pair of penalties and scored a power-play goal in the first 20 minutes. By the end of the night, they were 2 for 2 on the PP and 3 for 3 on the penalty kill, extending a PK streak to 15 of 15.
The Bruins scored three times in the first period by activating their back end. Grzelcyk had a couple quality rushes, showing his considerable speed, and the Moore-Krug tandem was dangerous all evening.
After a D-to-D pass from Krug, Moore served up a flat disk for Heinen to tip home at 5:23 of the first. Heinen’s fifth goal of the year was his first since Dec. 11.
They made it 2-0 six minutes later, when a pinching Moore took the puck and the body along the wall. Bergeron, adding a layer of forechecking support, moved to the middle of the blue line and offered Moore a safety valve. The defenseman set up Bergeron for a point shot that caromed off the end boards.
Marchand, battling in front, turned to chase it. But the star winger, whose reactions are quicker than most, hit the brakes, turned and flicked the rebound home at 11:29.
After Staal tripped Rask on his next shift, turning a Wild power play into a 4 on 4, the Bruins struck once they went on the man-up. Jake DeBrusk scored the greasiest goal of his young career at 19:15 of the first.
Bergeron threw the puck on net from the right point, and DeBrusk, standing at the right side of the cage, saw it coming in toward his chest. Not wanting to hit it with a high stick, he let it bounce above the Spoked-B on his chest and past a puzzled Stalock.
“I didn’t know how to react,” DeBrusk said. “Usually I have pretty good celebrations.”
The Marchand-Bergeron connection struck for a PPG in the second, when Marchand circled high in the offensive zone and skipped it off his centerman’s skate. Bergeron redirected the puck from the slot without a kicking motion at 6:24. It gave him a 5-7—12 line in eight games since missing 16 games because of a rib injury.
It was a snoozer from there. The Wild outshot Boston, 12-5, in the second period, but they finished with 24 shots.
Washington, the defending Stanley Cup champion, beat Philadelphia at home Tuesday and comes to Boston on Thursday, ready to deliver a wake-up call.