Bruins’ Rask blanks Blackhawks for league-leading seventh shutout

Posted March 27, 2014, at 10:21 p.m.
Last modified March 28, 2014, at 5:31 p.m.

BOSTON — Last June, the Chicago Blackhawks defeated the Boston Bruins at TD Garden to win the Stanley Cup.

Thursday night, the defending champs made their first trip back, but any hype about a rematch gave way to just another night at the office for the surging Bruins, who prevailed 3-0 over the Blackhawks.

“We knew it was one of those games that we knew was a great challenge but also wanted to get back on track after that Montreal game and really keep playing the way we’ve been playing over that stretch,” center Patrice Bergeron said after scoring two goals to lead the Bruins to their 13th win in the last 14 games. “That was the main goal.”

After seeing their 12-game winning streak snapped with the 2-1 shootout loss to the Canadiens on Monday night, the Bruins overcame a bit of a slow start and ran their points streak to 14 straight games.

The Tampa Bay Lightning’s shootout victory over the New York Islanders kept the Bruins from clinching the Atlantic Division title.

Goaltender Tuukka Rask stopped 28 shots for his league-leading seventh shutout of the season and center Carl Soderberg also scored for the Bruins, who yielded only 18 goals in the last 14 games and just nine in the last nine games.

“It’s a number, but we go by results and by our play on the ice,” Bruins defenseman and captain Zdeno Chara said. “We don’t necessarily always follow statistics. I think that would be kind of a wrong thing to do at this time of year.”

With the win, the Bruins still remain a point behind the winning St. Louis Blues for the NHL’s overall points lead.

Bergeron, scoring for the fifth straight game, scored his 24th goal of the season in the first period and No. 25 in the third, 13 seconds after Soderberg’s 14th of the season.

Bergeron scored the team’s first goal in each of the last five games.

On Bergeron’s second goal, Chicago goaltender Corey Crawford lifted the net up from the back as he was shooting. The puck went through where the net should have been but was called a goal on the ice and upheld upon review.

The victory was Boston’s 50th, the ninth time the franchise recorded 50 wins in a season.

Chicago, playing without injured forwards Patrick Kane and Bryan Bickell, is in second place in the Central Division.

The Blackhawks failed to clinch a playoff spot by not getting at least a point.

The teams split the two-game season series, but the Bruins went 1-0-1.

The Blackhawks came out strong, but it was the Bruins who got the first goal when Bergeron tipped in a shot from defenseman Matt Bartkowski 11:50 into the game.

“It was a perfect start,” said Chicago coach Joel Quenneville. “Then it slowed down to a crawl. The way we saw it, that we were easy to play against and didn’t really press enough. (We) had some chances later in the third, but I thought we were not very good tonight.”

NOTES: Rask on the Blackhawks returning to Boston for the first time since winning the Stanley Cup at TD Garden in June: “Probably brings some good memories to them. At least this time they’re not going to wreck our visiting locker room, I hope.” … Rask posted his 23rd career shutout. … The Bruins wore Boston Fire Department caps for warmups and had a moment of silence before the game in honor of the two firefighters who died Wednesday fighting a blaze not far from TD Garden. The department’s honor guard was on the ice for the national anthem. After the game, the fire department was chosen as the first star and the Bruins met the media still wearing their fire department T-shirts. … The Blackhawks continue their three-game road trip at Ottawa on Friday night before visiting Pittsburgh on Sunday. The Bruins open a four-game trip at Washington on Saturday and at Philadelphia on Sunday.

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