Minutes after Wheeler opened the scoring, the rookie right wing used a spin-o-rama move to score a short-handed goal in Boston’s 6-3 victory over the St. Louis Blues on Sunday night, the Eastern Conference-leading Bruins’ fifth straight victory.
“I initially was looking to make a pass back to Krejci,” Wheeler said. “He kind of abandoned me. He went off for a change and the only thing I could do was react. There was a guy coming at me and I just kind of reacted. I got lucky.”
Phil Kessel, Wheeler’s teammate for a season at the University of Minnesota, had two assists to extend his points streak to 18 games. Kessel’s streak is Boston’s longest since Adam Oates had a 20-gamer in 1997-98.
Michael Ryder had a goal and an assist, Shane Hnidy, Marc Savard and Vladimir Sobotka also scored, and Manny Fernandez made 29 saves. The Bruins are 19-3-1 in their last 23 games and 24-5-4 overall, their best 33-game start since the 1929-30 season.
“It’s better when the team wins,” said Krejci, who had three first-period assists. “I was just happy to get the two points. I hope we can get two points in New Jersey (Tuesday) and get a nice Christmas break.”
“We work hard. We compete. We battle. We’re still playing hard at the end of the hockey game, but it’s still six goals we’ve given up,” Blues coach Andy Murray said. “We need more saves. We need our better players to be better.”
Boston took a 3-2 lead in the first period.
Wheeler opened the scoring at 2:27, and made it 2-0 with his short-handed goal at 4:59. Winchester made it 2-1 with a power-play goal at 6:18, and McClement scored on a short-handed breakaway with 3:09 left. Hnidy then gave the Bruins the lead again with a power-play goal with 2:16 to go.
The Blues tied it at 3 when Stastny knocked in Keith Tkachuk’s centering feed at 2:46 of the second period, but Boston regained control on Ryder’s power-play goal at 9:34 and Savard’s tally at 16:57.
“Our team needs good goaltending,” Murray said. “As we talked about on (Saturday) night where Manny was a big part of the win, we have to have goaltending. Twenty-nine shots and six goals … we made some mistakes and we’ll make some mistakes (but) we need saves.”
The Bruins’ victory was their first over the Blues since Jan. 30, 2001. The Blues won six straight previous meetings. … Wheeler tied the Blues’ Patrik Berglund for most goals by a rookie with 11. … Bruins D Dennis Wideman returned to St. Louis for the first time since his trade to Boston two years ago. … Blues F David Backes had a career-best four-game goal scoring streak snapped. … Fernandez is 11-1-1 in his last 14 games. … Blues D Tyson Strachan had an assist for his first NHL point.