There are not many positives the Boston Bruins can take from the 4-2 loss to the St. Louis Blues in Game 4 of the Stanley Cup Final on Monday night. The Bruins did not play up to their standards in a close game that did not feature that many power plays. One positive that can be taken away, however, is the Bruins penalty kill continued to rise to the occasion and even accounted for a goal, on a night when the power play was held off the board for the first time in the series. Defenseman Brandon Carlo scored it at 14:19 of the second period with his first career playoff goal that tied the game at two.
Throughout the playoffs, the talk has been about the Bruins power play and rightfully so. Over the past 11 games, the Bruins penalty kill has allowed just two goals. In the Stanley Cup Playoffs, the penalty kill now has an 87.5 percent conversion rate. The PK has been so successful thanks to the penalty killers sticks being active and keeping pucks to the perimeter. That’s led to multiple shorthanded opportunities and limited the second and third chance opportunities in front of Tuukka Rask.
“I think we’ve been excellent, good sticks around the net,” Bruce Cassidy told the media after Game 3. “I think the timing of our penalty kills have been mostly pretty good, in terms of not having to kill two or three in a row very often where you get exhausted, because like a lot of teams, we use the same guys. I’d say those are the three biggest reasons.”
Carlo’s goal was a perfect example and here’s why: at the 13:53 mark of the second period Connor Clifton was penalized for an illegal check to the head. After a faceoff in the Bruins defensive zone, the Bruins penalty killers have great puck support as the outnumbered the Blues players to win a battle behind Rask that leads to a breakout.
Patrice Bergeron gets the puck on the near side boards and has two options to get the puck out of the zone to kill time of the penalty. He could either flip the puck in the air and down the ice or make a pass to Brad Marchand who has speed out of the zone. Bergeron makes the smart play and passed the puck to Marchand to start the breakout.
Marchand carried the puck into the offensive zone with speed to back off the two Blue defenders as he pulls up and waits for support from his teammates.
Marchand brought the two Blues defenders towards him that allowed Bergeron to enter the zone with Carlo on his right side. Marchand flips the puck to Bergeron to create a 2-on-1 with Carlo.
Bergeron holds the puck as long as he can with two defenders near him. Now Bergeron can either shoot or pass to the Carolo. He makes the right decision to shoot to take advantage of Jordan Binnington’s aggressiveness as the rebound comes right off Binnington’s pad to Carlo who scored into the open net to tie the game at 2-2
The Bruins continue to throw different looks at the Blues on the penalty kill, and that trend will need to continue in Game 5 as the series shifts back to Boston with the series tied up at 2-2.
Note: With the assist on the Carlo goal, Bergeron broke the tie with Phil Esposito for second place in Bruins history for most points in the playoffs with 103.