It's not going to make anybody in Boston forget about what happened in the Stanley Cup Final last season, but the Boston Bruins were able to shut out the Chicago Blackhawks in a rematch of the 2013 Stanley Cup Final on Thursday night thanks to a two-goal effort from Patrice Bergeron and Tuukka Rask's league-leading seventh shutout of the season.
The Bruins took advantage of some sketchy play from Blackhawks goalie Corey Crawford early in the third period to put the game out of reach, scoring a pair of goals just 13 seconds apart.
Boston's win, combined with the Pittsburgh Penguins' 3-2 loss to the Los Angeles Kings, allowed the Bruins to open up a nine-point lead for the No. 1 spot in the Eastern Conference. With both teams having just nine games to play, the win likely wraps up the top spot in the conference for the Bruins.
Elsewhere on Thursday, the Canucks picked up a point in Colorado to try and keep pace in the Western Conference wild card race, while the Phoenix Coyotes continued to gain ground on the Minnesota Wild for the first wild card spot.
Tampa Bay needed a 13-round shootout to beat the Islanders while Steve Stamkos provided the highlight of the night with his spin-o-rama goal.
All the NHL Scores
Bruins 3, Blackhawks 0
Coyotes 3, Devils 2
Kings 3, Penguins 2
Lightning 3, Islanders 2
Blues 5, Wild 1
Avalanche 3, Canucks 2
Three Things We Learned
1. The Red Wings missed an opportunity
The real winners in the Eastern Conference wild card race on Thursday were the three teams -- Columbus, Washington and Toronto -- that did not play. That's because the Detroit Red Wings missed an opportunity to gain a point by losing a sloppy, yet exciting, 5-4 game to the Montreal Canadiens. Not even a three-goal third period that included two goals from Tomas Tatar was enough to get the Red Wings even a single point in the standings. They remain in the top wild card spot in the Eastern Conference for now, but are one of four teams (along with the aforementioned trio of teams) with 80 points in the standings. This night really went to the dogs for the Red Wings.
2. The Penguins special teams are a problem right now
All year Pittsburgh has been a pretty mediocre five-on-five team but a powerhouse on special teams. The power play and penalty kill dominance has been a huge part of their success. As they've struggled on special teams during the past couple of weeks, the wins have stopped coming. The Penguins were 0-for-7 on the power play during their 3-2 loss to the Kings on Thursday and have given up seven power play goals in their past eight games. The absence of Evgeni Malkin, Paul Martin, Kris Letang and Pascal Dupuis has certainly played a role in that, but they have to straighten out these special teams struggles if they want make any sort of run in the playoffs.
3. T.J. Oshie isn't just a shootout specialist
During the Olympics St. Louis Blues forward T.J. Oshie became a star for his shootout performance in Team USA's preliminary round win against Russia. That kind of overshadowed the fact that he's also an outstanding player when there are other players on the ice. In St. Louis' 5-1 dismantling of the fading Minnesota Wild on Thursday he recorded his first career hat trick.
The one play or moment from Thursday that is going to be making headlines over the next couple of days.
What exactly happened in the third period of the Kings' 3-2 win over the Pittsburgh Penguins when Brandon Sutter's potential game-tying goal was disallowed, and did the NHL get it right? The goal was taken away when, after a lengthy discussion the referees and the war room in Toronto, it was determined that Sutter interfered with Kings goalie Martin Jones, preventing him from adequately playing his position. The referees said they made the call on the ice that it was interference which would have been necessary since that is not a play that is reviewable by the league in Toronto. It seems they ended up making the right call.
Stat of the Night
How about a two-part answer, both from the New Jersey Devils? Martin Brodeur holds quite a few records in the NHL and he added one more on Thursday by allowing the 2,757th goal of his career, the most allowed by any goalie in league history. So congratulations. To be fair, that's more a product of his longevity than anything else. Though his play has rapidly declined during the past few seasons he's still one of the best to ever play the position.
And the second part? The Devils not only fell to 0-9 in the shootout this season with their 3-2 loss to the Phoenix Coyotes, their shooters are just 1-for-28 on the season in the shootout. You would think that a team of NHL players could score on at least a couple of attempts over that many shots, but here we are.