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Boston Bruins Defense Checks In Vs. St Louis: ‘That’s Our Game’

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It appears that the Boston Bruins are finally adjusting to life while missing some of their biggest offensive pieces.

After playing a solid, no-frills two-way game in a win over the Pittsburgh Penguins last weekend, the Boston Bruins did the same against the St. Louis Blues on Tuesday night in a strong 3-2 overtime win at Scottrade Center. It was about paying attention to the details, playing strong, intelligent hockey at both ends and tightening up some of the wrinkles to their game that could prove costly in the playoffs even when David Pastrnak and Hampus Lindholm make their return.

“I thought our defense and forwards did a great job of taking pride in the defensive zone and making my job easy tonight,” said Boston Bruins goaltender Jeremy Swayman, who stopped 20-of-22 shots in the overtime victory for the Black and Gold.

Indeed, it was only a tic-tac-toe power play goal for the Blues in the first period after a Charlie McAvoy hooking call, and then a breakdown at the end of the second period when the Boston Bruins couldn’t knock down a Vladimir Tarasenko backhander from just inside the blue line. The shot was then deflected by Robert Thomas and ricocheted past Swayman with 2.4 seconds remaining in the second period to tie things up.

Rather than get flustered, though, the Boston Bruins tightened up in the third period and allowed just five shots on net while shutting down the rush chances and transition hockey that had hurt them in their last meeting against the Blues in Boston. Instead, they played a patient, hard game against the Blues, the kind of game that will be required come playoff time.

And it paid off in overtime when Jake DeBrusk wheeled behind the back of the St. Louis net and fed Charlie McAvoy in the slot for the game-winning strike. It was McAvoy’s ninth goal of the season, and it was an appropriate player to score the game-winner after defense had been the name of the game throughout the impressive, detailed B’s effort.

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It shouldn’t be all that surprising given that the Bruins are fourth in the NHL this season while allowing just 2.67 goals against in a league where goal numbers are on the rise, but it was reassuring to see so close to the playoffs.

“We checked very well and limited their chances. Power play got us when we were a little late with the pressure. But all in all, I thought we did very well against a good offensive team. That’s our game,” said Boston Bruins head coach Bruce Cassidy. “When we play like that, we’re hard to play against, so that was a real positive.

“Jeremy Swayman has strung together seven really good periods now, so it was an opportunity for him to step and some guys on the back end with Lindholm out. We’re hurting a little bit offensively creating with those guys out, but we did enough to put up three goals.”

With Pastrnak out, it’s been well documented that the Boston Bruins power play has gone 0-for-27 and the Bruins are averaging just 2.3 goals per game. But credit them for making the adjustment against a pair of playoff teams in recent days with an undermanned group in the kind of quick, on-the-fly recalibrations that the Boston Bruins will need to do in the playoffs as circumstances and matchups change on a game-to-game basis.

Joe Haggerty has covered the Boston Bruins and the NHL for 18 years with NBC Sports Boston, WEEI.com, the Boston Metro and the Woburn Daily Times, and currently serves as lead Bruins reporter and columnist for Boston Hockey Now. Haggs always strives to capture the spirt of the thing any way that he can.

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