Ryan Spooner

Getty

WATCH LIVE: Wednesday Night Rivalry – Canadiens at Bruins

Leave a comment

CLICK HERE TO WATCH LIVE

PROJECTED LINES

Montreal Canadiens

Max PaciorettyPaul ByronCharles Hudon

Artturi LehkonenTomas PlekanecBrendan Gallagher

Alex GalchenyukJacob De La RoseJonathan Drouin

Nicolas DeslauriersByron FroeseDaniel Carr

Karl AlznerJeff Petry

Jordie BennJakub Jerabek

Victor Mete — David Schlemko

Starting goalie: Carey Price

[NHL on NBCSN doubleheader: Canadiens vs. Bruins; Penguins vs. Ducks]

Boston Bruins

Brad MarchandPatrice BergeronDavid Pastrnak

Jake DeBruskDavid KrejciRyan Spooner

Danton HeinenRiley NashDavid Backes

Tim SchallerSean KuralyNoel Acciari

Zdeno CharaCharlie McAvoy

Torey KrugBrandon Carlo

Matt GrzelcykAdam McQuaid

Starting goalie: Tuukka Rask

Penguins top Bruins in one of the best games of the season so far

8 Comments

For the first time in more than a month the Pittsburgh Penguins have won back-to-back games, and it could not have come at a better time.

With their season looking like it was starting to slip away from them, the Penguins were able to finally string together consecutive wins thanks to a thrilling 6-5 overtime win against the Boston Bruins on Sunday night.

Evgeni Malkin‘s second goal of the night was the winner in the extra period.

Combined with their win over the New York Islanders on Friday it puts the Penguins back into a playoff position for the time being, moving them one point ahead of the Carolina Hurricanes, Philadelphia Flyers and Islanders.

All three teams still have games in hand on them (Carolina three, Philadelphia two, New York one), while Penguins are set to begin their bye week.

Let’s talk about Sunday’s game for a bit because it was probably one of the best games in the NHL so far this season, featuring wild swings in momentum, shaky goaltending, explosive offense, a penalty shot in the final minute of regulation, and a highlight reel goal to win it in overtime.

After giving up an early goal to Ryan Spooner, the Penguins erupted with three consecutive goals over the next 10 minutes to take a two-goal lead into the second period. It was there that the Bruins took over the game with four consecutive goals of their own and seemed to be on their way to blowing out another opponent.

Just as the game seemed to be out of reach, Evgeni Malkin scored with less than four seconds to play in the second period to pull them to within one. Riley Sheahan‘s unassisted goal early in the third period helped send the game to overtime.

Before it could get there Penguins goalie Matt Murray — who came on in relief of Tristan Jarry after he surrendered five goals in 32 minutes — had to stop Brad Marchand, one of the NHL’s top goal-scorers, on a penalty shot with just a little over one minute to play in regulation.

It is an encouraging win for the Penguins not only because it gives them something to build on heading into the bye week as they prepare for what is going to have to be a huge playoff push in the second half.

The Penguins have had quite a few games this season that have looked like they might be a turning point only to come back with a couple of clunkers that balance everything out. Will these past two games really end up being the turning point for them?

What these past two games have shown us is that the Penguins can score a lot of goals and win when their two best players — Sidney Crosby and Malkin — dominate. Over the past two games Crosby and Malkin have combined for four goals and seven assists, while one, or both, have had a direct hand in eight of the 11 goals in those two games. Only two of the goals were scored without one of them being on the ice.

The big question that has to be answered is what happens to the Penguins when those two players do not dominate a game. As I mentioned after their ugly loss to Carolina when neither Crosby or Malkin score in a game this season the Penguins are averaging less than two goals per game and have managed only a .333 points percentage, a significant drop from a season ago (when Crosby and Malkin did not score for the Penguins a year ago they were at .466 and averaged 2.5 goals per game).

Meanwhile, for the Bruins, the overtime loss extends their current point streak to 11 games. They are also 17-3-3 in their past 23 games and still have the fourth-best points percentage in the league.

It was also another big night for their offense as it was the fourth consecutive game they scored at least five goals.

The Brad Marchand-Patrice BergeronDavid Pastrnak also had another huge night with Marchand and Pastrnak each scoring their 17th goal of the season.

Adam Gretz is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @AGretz.

WATCH LIVE: Boston Bruins at Buffalo Sabres

Getty

WATCH LIVE

PROJECTED LINES

Bruins

Brad MarchandPatrice BergeronDavid Pastrnak

Jake DeBruskRyan SpoonerAnders Bjork

Danton HeinenRiley NashDavid Backes

Tim SchallerSean KuralyNoel Acciari

Zdeno CharaCharlie McAvoy

Torey KrugBrandon Carlo

Matt GrzelcykKevan Miller

Starting goalie: Anton Khudobin

BRUINS LOOK TO KEEP ROLLING AGAINST SABRES (Preview)

Sabres

Evander KaneJack EichelJason Pominville

Benoit PouliotRyan O'ReillyKyle Okposo

Zemgus GirgensonsJohan LarssonSam Reinhart

Evan RodriguesJacob JosefsonJordan Nolan

Marco ScandellaRasmus Ristolainen

Nathan BeaulieuZach Bogosian

Jake McCabeVictor Antipin

Starting goalie: Robin Lehner

Bruised Bruins get Bergeron and Backes back, at least

Getty

On paper, a game against old chums the Vancouver Canucks would probably be an assumed W for the Boston Bruins.

It hasn’t been safe to assume much during an up-and-down start so far, and that goes straight down to injuries, as Bruins news seems to rotate with the bad and the good.

In the case of Thursday, the good and the bad seem to come in hour rotations rather than days. Earlier, the unfortunate news came: Tuukka Rask was diagnosed with a concussion, adding to the rough news about Ryan Spooner.

If Anton Khudobin struggles and the Bruins need to outscore their problems, at least they’re getting reinforcements in that regard, as both David Backes and Patrice Bergeron are back in action.

One would expect Bergeron to resume much of his puck-mastery tonight, or at least soon, even if he might take a while to improve after a 2016-17 season he wasn’t totally pleased with.

(Bergeron was probably in the minority there, what with winning the Selke Trophy and his line with Brad Marchand and David Pastrnak dominating opponents.)

Backes might be most interesting to watch. He reportedly lost 10 lbs. because of diverticulitis, so you wonder if he’ll be limited for a while. He’s trying to bounce back from 2016-17 in a more objective way than Bergeron, after all.

James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.

MORE FROM NHL ON NBC SPORTS:

Bruins turn to Khudobin after Rask diagnosed with concussion

Getty Images
1 Comment

A bad start to the season officially got worse on Thursday as the Boston Bruins announced that Tuukka Rask has been diagnosed with a concussion.

The 30-year-old netminder collided with Anders Bjork during practice on Wednesday and needed to be helped off the ice. Anton Khudobin will start Thursday night against the Canucks and Zane MacIntyre will serve as his backup.

The Bruins are 2-3-0 on the season with a minus-4 goal differential. Rask has struggled as well with an ugly .887 even strength save percentage in four starts. With four games over the next 11 days, the hope is that either Khudobin or MacIntyre can right the ship as Rask heals.

“I feel good. Camp was good and everything is fine, and I’ve started better than last year,” said Khudobin via NBC Sports Boston. “My role is just day-to-day. Today is a game day and hopefully, you get a good result, and then tomorrow is another new day.”

As the Bruins get David Backes and possibly Patrice Bergeron back, they’ve watched as Rask and Ryan Spooner (4-6 weeks) leave the lineup with injury. Having a roster in flux while you’re trying to find some consistency will be a tough ask for head coach Bruce Cassidy and his players.

The 31-year-old Khudobin has played well in two appearances this season, stopping 32 of 33 shots faced and posting a .970 ESSV%.

————

Sean Leahy is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @Sean_Leahy.