Different game, same beat down: Bruins lead Canucks 4-0 after one period

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For a team that is one win away from winning the Stanley Cup, the Vancouver Canucks are proving to be a putrid team on the road against the Boston Bruins. Boston stormed out to take a 4-0 lead after one period of play and in the process chased Roberto Luongo from the game as he gave up three goals on just eight shots before being replaced by Cory Schneider.

The game got off to a bad start for Vancouver when Mason Raymond went down with an injury in the opening minute of the game after colliding with Johnny Boychuk. Raymond was helped off the ice with what appeared to be a back injury.

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At 5:31 of the first though it would be Brad Marchand getting the Bruins out in front with a laser rip of a goal past Luongo to get the TD Garden crowd roaring. For Marchand it’s his ninth goal of the playoffs and a foreboding sign for the Canucks as the Bruins are 10-1 in the playoffs when they score first.

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Just 35 seconds later Milan Lucic would make it 2-0 as he was able to squeeze the puck between Luongo’s pads and across the goal line. Things wouldn’t get better from there for Vancouver as Alexander Edler would take a poor boarding penalty on Rich Peverley putting the Bruins power play on the ice. There, at 8:35 of the first, Andrew Ference would snipe a shot from the blue line past Luongo and chasing him from the game. Just 1:10 later, Michael Ryder would tip home a Tomas Kaberle shot past Cory Schneider to make it 4-0.

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For Boston it’s the start they dreamed of and just a continuation of the beatings they’ve handed out to Vancouver in Boston through this series as they’ve now outscored the Canucks in Boston 16-1 through two games and one period. Yikes. For Vancouver it’s a titanic failure to come out and play this poorly in a game where they had the Stanley Cup there for the taking if they could win.

Granted we’ve seen teams come back from big holes in the playoffs, and even the Bruins have coughed up a three goal lead (they did so against Tampa Bay last round) but with how Vancouver’s played in Boston, this one seems all but over with and we’re staring Game 7 in the face. Vancouver’s got a lot to work on the rest of this game and while we could see them whittle things away, Tim Thomas is still there at the end of the ice and he’s made a few fantastic stops late in the first to keep the Canucks frustrated. There’s still 40 minutes to play but let’s just hope for a clean ending from here on out.

A big night for the rookies and a big win for the Maple Leafs

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William Nylander helped get Toronto started on Thursday, extending his point streak to 10 games — a new Maple Leafs franchise record for a rookie.

Connor Brown finished it with his 17th goal of the season, securing a 4-2 win for the Maple Leafs over the New Jersey Devils.

Toronto has won three in a row and moves three points clear of Boston for third in the Atlantic Division, with a game in hand, which further helps the Maple Leafs’ playoff chances with nine games remaining on their schedule.

Just another big night for Toronto’s impressive crop of rookies.

Auston Matthews had a pair of assists.

— Nylander had a goal and an assist. He set one and tied another franchise rookie record on Thursday.

Mitch Marner had an assist, giving him 40 helpers this season, which ties the franchise rookie record set in 1943-44.

“They’re good players,” said coach Mike Babcock, per the Toronto Star. “I didn’t know Marner would make the team. I knew Matthews and Nylander were good players. I knew Brown and (Zach) Hyman were relentless. I had no idea (Nikita) Zaitsev was as close to how good he is.

“We have lots of good players.”

In May of 2015, Babcock predicted at his introductory press conference that the Maple Leafs would, during their massive rebuild, endure “pain.” This was, he said, to be a long process — a “massive, massive challenge.”

Approaching the two-year anniversary of that event — after all the losing that franchise and its fan base has gone through, which obviously helped them with the Matthews lottery last year — the Maple Leafs are poised to make the playoffs with a nucleus of young players that present even more promise for the future.

“We just want to get in to the playoffs, and give ourselves a chance,” continued Babcock. “We’re playing well, and finding a way to win games. That’s what we have to continue to do.”

Capitals defeat Blue Jackets in clash of Metropolitan Division powers

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WASHINGTON (AP) T.J. Oshie scored the shootout winner as the Washington Capitals overcame a stellar performance from Columbus goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky to beat the Blue Jackets 2-1 Thursday night.

Despite 44 saves from Bobrovsky, the Capitals reached 104 points and extended their lead atop the Metropolitan Division and NHL standings. Oshie engendered memories of his Sochi Olympic shootout performance by again beating Bobrovsky, the goalie he scored on four times in six chances that day.

Dmitry Orlov finally cracked Bobrovsky early in the third period on Washington’s 35th shot of the game. Orlov’s goal tied the score after Seth Jones beat Braden Holtby on a wild scramble early in the third for his first goal since Feb. 7.

Holtby had 29 saves in regulation and overtime and three more in the shootout to pick up his 38th victory of the season, one shy of Bobrovsky for the league lead.

A showdown between two of the top three teams in the league jockeying for position atop the Metropolitan Division lacked a playoff feel. But the matchup of two likely Vezina Trophy finalists lived up to that billing as Bobrovsky and Holtby went back and forth with big saves.

Bobrovsky entered the night first in wins, goals-against average and save percentage with Holtby second, second and third in those categories. The 2013 Vezina winner could also be an MVP contender this season given his value to Columbus’ third playoff berth in franchise history.

“When he’s in his game it’s very hard to score on him,” said Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin, who had eight shots stopped by one of his Russian national teammates. “He likes the big moments, he likes pressure. His worth ethic is unbelievable. … In my opinion he’s one of the best goalies in the league right now.”

Methot ‘out for weeks’ after suffering a shattered finger from Crosby clash

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The Ottawa Senators lost defenseman Marc Methot for the bulk of Thursday’s game against the Pittsburgh Penguins, and it seems he’ll be out for quite a while longer, too.

Methot was injured on a Sidney Crosby slash across the hand in the first period. He didn’t return to the game and there was no penalty called on the Penguins captain.

Footage showed the gruesome aftermath of the slash — Methot’s finger on his left hand bloodied and injured as he skated back to the bench.

“His finger is shattered and he’s out for weeks,” said Senators head coach Guy Boucher, per the Ottawa Sun.

Methot immediately confronted Crosby after the slash, which occurred as the Sens blue liner went to dump the puck into the Pittsburgh zone late in the first period.

The Senators got revenge, scoring a 2-1 shootout victory to move within a point of Montreal for the Atlantic Division lead. Crosby was also denied in the shootout.

NHL to make ‘special announcement’ in China next week

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The National Hockey League has announced it will make a “special announcement” at the LeSports Center in Beijing, China next Thursday.

In January, the league’s deputy commissioner Bill Daly made it clear the NHL has interest in playing games in China — likely starting out with pre-season games before potentially adding in some regular season contests in the future, as well.

Just after the league made its announcement on Thursday, the L.A. Kings tweeted out that they will participate in next week’s event, along with the Vancouver Canucks.

In January, hockey insider Darren Dreger reported that the Canucks and Kings were likely to play NHL pre-season games in China this upcoming September.

Last July, members of the Boston Bruins visited China, specifically Beijing and Shanghai, to host hockey clinics in those cities.

Beijing will also host the 2022 Winter Olympics.