ST. PAUL, Minn. — In their final road contest of the season, the result was an afterthought for a Bruins team playing out the string before the postseason.
But, nonetheless, they’ll take the win.
With a considerable portion of their regulars out of the lineup, the Bruins held a one-goal lead on the Minnesota Wild Thursday night before expanding it in the third period to take a 3-0 victory and wrap up their final road trip at 2-1-0. The Wild, in their final home showing of the season, didn’t generate many chances on Jaroslav Halak. They shot just nine times in the first frame, and struggled to create much offense after.
“Thought we played well,” said Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy. “They’re probably somewhat disheartened after being eliminated, but we have to worry about our own group. Our guys played hard, especially in the second period. It was a real good period for us, we were in their end and got rewarded. Probably could have gotten rewarded more times, but I think we built off that.”
Joakim Nordstrom found the net midway through the second period and the score held throughout in one of the lower-energy contests the Bruins had all season.
It was Halak’s fifth shutout of the season.
“I think we played a pretty good game the right way,” he said. “That’s how we want to finish the season, playing the right way. Both teams were missing some key players from the lineups, it could go either way. Just happy the guys who played played great.”
Brad Marchand, David Krejci, Zdeno Chara and Charlie McAvoy all sat out to rest with nothing left to clinch, while Chris Wagner was scratched to continue to recover from a lower-body injury.
The result was a mismatch of line combinations unlikely to be repeated; Jake DeBrusk up on the top line, Karson Kuhlman and Danton Heinen centered by Trent Frederic.
The Bruins came out flat in the first period, but it’s a scenario where one could forgive that, given the personnel and lack of established chemistry.
It took until nearly midway through the second period for anyone to find the scoreboard. Nordstrom took a check around the opposing blue line where he was hauled down, but got back down ice and buried a rebound on an open net to put the Bruins ahead 1-0 with 11:39 to go. It was his seventh goal of the season.
David Pastrnak netted his 38th goal of the season with 2:40 to go in the game to expand the B’s lead to 2-0 on a pass from DeBrusk, burying it in the gaping net with Alex Stalock caught on the other side.
Zach Senyshyn, in his first NHL game, potted an empty net goal with 2:09 to go in the third to ice the win.
“It feels incredible,” he said. “I know it’s not the way you envision it, but you take it any way you can get it.
Just 20 seconds into the second period, Kevan Miller was bumped awkwardly into the end boards by Jordan Greenway. He limped off the ice and down the tunnel without putting much pressure on one of his legs. He returned to the game late in the second, toward the end of a Bruins power play, but didn’t start the third period on the bench.
Miller missed several games over the course of the season with throat, hand, and upper-body injuries. Cassidy said Miller was held out of the third as a precaution and should be able to go on Saturday.
Senyshyn skated alongside Charlie Coyle and Marcus Johansson, generating four shots and a couple of prime scoring opportunities before his empty netter.
Noel Acciari led all skaters with six shots on goal, with Pastrnak behind him with five
Ryan Donato didn’t put up a point in his first game against his former team. Coyle, who received a tribute video in the first period, also didn’t score against his old club.
The Bruins wrap up the regular season on Saturday against the Lightning before facing the Maple Leafs in the playoffs next week. It’s their final tuneup, and Cassidy said before Thursday’s game the players who sat out here should be back in to face the Bolts.