Jaroslav Halak, Bruins open trip by blanking Ducks
ANAHEIM, Calif. — If the Bruins are to stay hot without leading scorer David Pastrnak, they’ll need quality goaltending and timely scoring.
Check and check for the Black and Gold, who went cross-country for their fourth consecutive win Friday night, starting a five-game Western Conference road trip with a 3-0 win over the dismal Ducks.
The Bruins (33-17-8) left for Saturday’s game in Los Angeles after scoring early in the first (Noel Acciari) and second periods (Jake DeBrusk), and getting a flawless night from Jaroslav Halak. The backup netminder made 30 saves for his fourth shutout of the season.
“It’s a team effort, any time we win a game,” said Halak, who improved to 15-9-4 with a 2.35 GAA and sparkling .923 save percentage. “Everybody needs to be on the same page, and tonight, I think we were for 95 percent of it.”
Ex-Duck Chris Wagner, who spent the first six seasons here, fired home a blue-line empty-netter with 1:31 remaining. Smiles all around, for more reasons than his employment history.
“My track record with empty nets the last couple of years hasn’t been great,” said Wagner, who duffed a pair of ENG chances in a game last month against the Blues. “But I actually drilled that one.”
He was the lowest-scoring member of his line Friday, but scoresheet contributions from that group are merely gravy.
Wagner, along with hard-edged linemates Acciari (goal, assist) and Sean Kuraly (two assists) were charged with foiling Anaheim’s top line of Rickard Rakell-Ryan Getzlaf-Corey Perry. They were also tabbed to thwart the Ducks’ last-gasp 6-on-5, a situation where a goal would have trimmed Boston’s lead to one goal.
Again: check and check.
“I thought they were very good,” Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy said. “I can’t remember [the Getzlaf line] generating a lot.”
The Bruins, who have taken points in their last nine games (6-0-3), outshot the Ducks 6-1 early, before Brandon Carlo’s rocket from the point was tipped in by screening Acciari at 5:31 of the opening frame. The goal would have been Carlo’s second of the season, but it was instead that of Acciari, who last scored Dec. 27.
“We always want to contribute,” Acciari said. “It doesn’t always happen.”
The Ducks (22-27-9), who have lost 20 of their previous 23, were competitive. They had 21 scoring chances during even-strength play, according to Natural Stat Trick, and could have scored on a tip here, a bounce there.
But the Bruins (20 chances) controlled play for most of the evening, and Halak was there whenever they broke down. He has stopped 65 of his last 66 shots, after a 1-4-2 run from late December to early February.
“Two in a row, right?” said Cassidy, who will start Tuukka Rask against the Kings on Saturday. “Some of the issues he had recently were pucks were going through him from distance, where he couldn’t pick it up. Some of that is too much traffic. We did a better job, allowing him to see it, and he worked harder to find it.”
Halak robbed Perry in the opening minute of the second, after a puck hopped over Zdeno Chara’s stick at the blue line, and the Bruins went back to dominating. DeBrusk made it 2-0 nine seconds after Patrice Bergeron drew a holding penalty, tapping it in at 5:07 of the second.
David Krejci set him up with silken hands, which he used to deke around keeper Kevin Boyle (26 saves), who boldly challenged Krejci and lost. Torey Krug began the play with his trademark cross-ice seam pass from the opposite circle.
Make it goals in two straight for DeBrusk, whose last such streak came before Thanksgiving. DeBrusk shut his eyes and chuckled when informed of that.
“I won’t miss many of those, for sure,” said DeBrusk. “That was a gift from Krech. Hopefully I can earn one tomorrow in L.A.”
The Bruins got what they needed Friday. And in a chirp-filled game, Wagner got the last laugh.
“They get mad at me sometimes,” he said of his former teammates. “They know how I play. They start scrums. It’s probably frustrating to lose this many games. Overall, they’re a good team. There’s a lot of core guys that I’m friends with. It makes it even better to win tonight.”