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Five Takeaways: Ritchie Pays Dividends, Bruins Win Heavy Game 4-3 Over Stars



New Boston Bruins winger Nick Ritchie scored his first goal as a Bruin and added an assist as the Bruins snapped a two-game losing streak and beat the Dallas Stars 4-3 at TD Garden Thursday night.

David Pastrnak and Brad Marchand also had a goal and an assist and Charlie Coyle lit the lamp for the B’s and Jaro Halak made 31 saves for the win. The Bruins (40-13-12, 92 points), now lead the Tampa Bay Lightning (40-19-5, 85 points) by seven points for the Atlantic Division lead, the Washington Capitals (39-19-6, 84 points) by eight points for the top seed in the Eastern Conference and the St. Louis Blues (38-17-10, 86 points) by six points in the race for the President’s Trophy. 

Jamie Benn had a goal and an assist and Miro Heiskanen and Denis Gurianov each lit the lamp for the Stars. Ben Bishop made 24 saves in the loss.  

Ritchie Delivers In Second Game; Kase So-So In First

Turns out, Ritchie needed just one game with the Bruins to adjust and give the Bruins exactly what Bruins General Manager Don Sweeney envisioned when he acquired the 6-foot-2, 230-pound winger from the Anaheim Ducks in exchange for Danton Heinen just prior to the trade deadline Monday. Ritchie brought the physical game he’s known for in his Bruins debut Tuesday with six hits, but just as his new teammates did, he struggled and was one of four Bruins that finished a minus 2. Starting the game on the left side of the second line with Krejci and his former/new teammate in fellow former Duck, Ondrej Kase on the right wing, Ritchie found his groove offensively. 

Just 1:17 after Marchand had given the Bruins their first lead of the game, Ritchie got his first goal as a Bruin and ninth of the season at 16:01 of the second period to give the Bruins a 3-1 lead. Bruins captain Zdeno Chara and forward Chris Wagner got the helpers. 

Then, just after the Stars had cut the Bruins lead to 3-2 on the Lindell goal at 1:18, Ritchie fed Pastrnak to complete a give-and-go and help the Bruins regain a two-goal lead at 3:53. Ritchie also finished the game with three hits and two blocked shots in 12:59 TOI. 

Kase looked a bit rusty playing in not only his first game with the Bruins but his first game since suffering a concussion back on February 7. The new Bruins winger didn’t register a point and was a minus 1 in 15:16 TOI. 

“Ondrej looked like he hadn’t played in a while, was trying to find his groove there a little bit. A little bit rusty,” head coach Bruce Cassidy said. “I think Nick was much better than the other night, a little more into the game. Puck was finding him. And we knew that would happen, I just thought it was unfair the other night. You fly in, it’s a lot of newness going on. He’s had a couple of days to acclimate a little bit. Listen, I’m not going to say he’s going to get two points every night, but he’ll probably be somewhere in between there and that’s what we expect out of him. A bigger body, especially in this type of game I thought. They’re a heavy team, they finish checks and you’ve got to work to get to the net. And I thought he did a real good job with that.”

Marchand’s Hands Not Going Anywhere

Earlier in the season, Marchand poked fun at himself, saying his hands had gone missing, on Twitter for falling into a prolonged scoring slump. Well, those hands have been found again as the pesky winger now has three goals in his last four games. With his 26th lamplighter of the season at 14:44 of the second period, Marchand extended his point streak to eight games. He has three goals and nine assists during the streak and now has a team-leading 55 assists in 65 games this season.

Pasta Stays In The Lead For Rocket Richard

With his 46th lamplighter of the season and team-leading ninth game-winner, Pastrnak padded his league-lead to two goals over Toronto Maple Leafs forward Auston Matthews and three ahead of Washington Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin. Pastrnak now has three goals in his last three games. He also assisted on Marchand’s goal and leads the team with 90 points.

Halak Extends Win Streak To Six

After a rough patch in mid-January that saw him lose four of six starts, Halak has now won six straight starts. He made 31 saves Thursday and none were bigger than the point-blank stop he made on former Bruin Tyler Seguin with 18 seconds left. Halak appears to be ready to step up and be depended on as the Bruins look to monitor Tuukka Rask’s starts down the stretch so he’ll be fresh for the playoffs.

Bruins Used Speed And Grit To Play Heavy Western Game

In his NBC Sports postgame interview on the bench with analyst Pierre McGuire, Ritchie was asked what he thought the Bruins did well to combat the heavy Western Conference game the Stars play and that he was used to playing during his time with the Ducks?

“I thought we played them tough but we also used our speed to lead to some of those goals,” he replied.

That speed was neutralized by the Blues in the Stanley Cup Final loss to the St. Louis Blues last season but if the Bruins can find a way to compliment their wheels with the physicality and suffocating forecheck they used on the Stars Thursday, they will be able to compete with those heavy teams from the West should they make it back to the Cup Final. That was a playoff-like game and the Bruins were ready for it. They were out-hit 28-25 but they matched the physical intensity and even saw their veteran alternate captain David Krejci drop the gloves for the first time since February 2011, which was ironically against the Stars. 


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