The two division leaders in the Eastern Conference meet tonight in Boston when the Bruins (15-6-2) host the Pittsburgh Penguins (15-9-0).
It’s the second meeting of the season between the teams; the first, on Oct. 30, was a 3-2 victory for the Pens.
“We didn’t play to our identity,” Bruins coach Claude Julien said following that defeat. “We didn’t play a heavy game for two periods tonight. We had to play three periods like we did in the third and that wasn’t the case.”
The B’s, of course, swept the Pens in last year’s playoffs, outscoring them 12-2 in the four games combined.
“I think we’ve all turned the page,” Pittsburgh captain Sidney Crosby said today, per NHL.com. “It’s something that we’ll hopefully learn from. But I think we’re all moving on and making sure that we learn from it.”
Fun fact: If the Pens were in the Western Conference, they wouldn’t be in a playoff position. The Bruins would be, but only barely, based on regulation/overtime wins.
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Alexander Steen didn’t score in regulation or overtime Thursday, but it didn’t matter. The St. Louis Blues won anyway.
The Blues defeated the Boston Bruins with a 3-2 shootout victory, pushing their franchise-best start to 15-3-3. That temporarily put them ahead of the Chicago Blackhawks for top spot in the Central Division, however the Blackhawks won in Winnipeg not long after to jump back ahead of St. Louis.
The win for St. Louis was a milestone victory for both the team and its head coach Ken Hitchcock.
On an individual level, Hitchcock recorded 620th career win, tying Bryan Murray for eighth on the NHL’s all-time list, according to the Blues.
The Blues have also won their last six games at the TD Garden.
Steen was held off the score sheet until the second round of the shootout. His goal helped extend the deciding skills competition into the fourth round, when Derek Roy scored the winner.
“If that’s the level, that’s a pretty high level,” Hitchcock said, as per the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.
“We got the information we needed. It was a playoff game. It was very disciplined. Both teams really respected each other. But it was really a hard game.”
Steen entered the game with 17 goals, tied with Alex Ovechkin at the top of the league.
As you’ll recall, we previewed this game earlier in the day. It was also a match-up of two very strong teams only gaining strength in their respective conferences.
The Bruins had won six of their last seven games, while the Blues have now gone 7-2-1 in their last 10 games.
If you can only watch one hockey game tonight, you probably wouldn’t go wrong picking the St. Louis Blues (14-3-3) at the Boston Bruins (14-6-1).
Both teams come into the matchup on a hot stretch. Boston’s won five of its last six; St. Louis’ entire season has been a hot stretch, really.
We’re hesitant to call this a possible Stanley Cup Final preview, given so many East-West matchups could qualify as that in today’s NHL, but it wouldn’t be untrue. And what a Final that could be — two big, tough teams that don’t mind getting their noses dirty, but also boast their share of talent.
If there’s one thing that separates this season’s Blues’ team from previous editions, it’s the ability to put the puck in the net at a high rate. St. Louis has the No. 2-ranked offense in the NHL, averaging 3.40 goals per game, and led by Alexander Steen’s 17 tallies. Last season, the Blues averaged 2.38 goals per game.
If there’s one thing that separates this season’s Bruins’ team from previous editions, it may be rookie defenseman Torey Krug, a dynamic offensive threat on the back end who has 12 points in 21 games. The 22-year-old has his issues defensively, but his offense makes up for those, according to Bruins coach Claude Julien.
“I think you just let him play,” Julien told NHL.com. “His game offensively is almost a natural part of it, so you let him do that stuff. I don’t think there’s too many times where he makes bad decisions up front. If he does, it’s going to happen once in a while. There’s always a risk and reward; you want to minimize that risk. That’s what you want to do. But right now I think he’s doing well offensively, so I’m certainly not going to take that part of his game away from him.”