Cam Tucker

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Bruins win a crazy OT thriller versus rival Habs

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Monday night. Only two games on the schedule. A quiet evening in the NHL, perhaps? No. Not between the Montreal Canadiens and Boston Bruins.

The rivalry renewed itself Monday, as the two teams met in Montreal. There were big hits and scoring chances and great saves from Tuukka Rask and Carey Price. OK, so it was a low-scoring game. Those can be fun, too, as these teams illustrated.

Despite a recent lack of offense, the Bruins earned an important 2-1 overtime victory, moving within eight points of the Habs in the Atlantic Division standings. Ryan Spooner scored the winner, sneaking the puck through the legs of Price on a nifty move to the forehand.

For a game in the middle of December, this one was certainly not lacking intensity. In fact, it was pure chaos at times, especially in the three-on-three overtime, with a playoff atmosphere.

The temperature started to rise with an Alexei Emelin hit along the boards on Bruins scorer David Pastrnak in the first period. That was followed up with a huge open-ice hit from Torey Krug on Andrew Shaw.

Shaw, whose head snapped back at the contact of the hit, went to the dressing room but he did return for the second period and was involved in getting under the skin of Bruins players as the night continued.

Neither of the aforementioned hits resulted in penalties, although Krug later fought Brendan Gallagher in the first period.

It shouldn’t come as a surprise that scoring proved difficult for both teams.

The Habs and Bruins feature elite goalies in Price and Rask, and they were in fine form.

Rask went old school, stacking the pads to deny Tomas Plekanec, and Price robbed Pastrnak with a toe save in overtime. The Bruins appeared to have the winner on the ensuing rebound, but the goal was disallowed because of the contact between Pastrnak and Price in the crease.

Big hits, close calls, controversy, great goaltending — what else would we expect when the Bruins and Habs meet?

Report: Flyers’ Streit out two weeks with sprained shoulder

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The Philadelphia Flyers are the hottest team in the NHL right now, riding a nine-game winning streak.

But the depth of their blue line will be tested further over the next few games with news that Mark Streit will miss two weeks with an upper-body injury, reportedly a sprained left shoulder suffered against the Red Wings on Sunday.

This news comes after defenseman Shayne Gostisbehere had already missed Sunday’s game versus Detroit with a hand injury.

From CSN Philly:

Streit normally quarterbacks the second-unit power play with Ivan Provorov as his understudy. Yet Streit had to work the first power play in Shayne Gostisbehere’s absence against the Red Wings. 

Michael Del Zotto, who had been a healthy scratch twice last week before filling in for Gostisbehere on Sunday, is expected to stay in the lineup for Streit.

In 31 games this season, the 39-year-old Streit has five goals and 16 points.

The Flyers, looking for a 10th consecutive win, are on the road against the struggling Colorado Avalanche on Wednesday.

Related: Stolarz making case to be with Flyers full-time next season

Video: Thunderous first period hits show Bruins-Habs rivalry is alive and well (Updated)

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In case you didn’t already know, the Montreal Canadiens and Boston Bruins don’t like each other.

Example No. 1,437: Tempers flared between the two long-time rivals during Monday’s game after a couple of massive hits within the span of just a few seconds during the first period.

It started with Alexei Emelin stepping up and delivering a heavy but clean hit on David Pastrnak along the boards. Seconds later, Andrew Shaw was hit in the open ice by Torey Krug.

Shaw went immediately to the dressing room, in obvious distress, and it will be interesting to see if the league deems this a hit worthy of supplemental discipline. There was no call on either hit.

What happened shortly after shouldn’t surprise anyone. Brendan Gallagher challenged Krug to a fight, with both players dropping the gloves and quickly hitting the ice.

You’ll recall during Saturday’s game between Montreal and Colorado that Emelin, with his team up 10-1 at the time, threw a controversial hip check on Joe Colborne, drawing a response from Jarome Iginla.

Updated: Per reports, Shaw has returned to the Montreal bench in the second period.

Babcock defends demoting impressive rookie Mitch Marner to fourth line

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Type ‘Mitch Marner‘ into a Twitter search, and you’ll see plenty of reaction to Toronto Maple Leafs coach Mike Babcock putting the talented rookie forward on the fourth line Sunday.

This is a rather interesting development, because Marner, taken fourth overall in the 2015 draft, has had an impressive start to his first season with the Maple Leafs, racking up 20 points in 27 games and showing a dazzling display of speed, creativity and talent despite needing to pack on additional strength.

Against the Colorado Avalanche on Sunday, Marner found himself on the fourth line with Matt Martin and Ben Smith for the early portion of the game.

Prior to that, he had gone four games without a point despite 12 shots on net.

Babcock, who has always stood by his convictions in hockey, defended his decision to move Marner down the lineup.

“I’ve just been watching the games,” Babcock told Postmedia. “I think there has been a message (from the coaching staff) going on for a bit.

“That’s just the process of growing up in the National Hockey League. It doesn’t go your way all the time, in practice, in games. You have to work hard every single day. I don’t know if I saw a response — I just thought it was the right thing to do.”

Marner did bust out of his mini-slump with an assist in the third period Sunday, but the Maple Leafs lost mostly because Avs goalie Semyon Varlamov absolutely stole the game for Colorado.

The Maple Leafs are in the midst of a five-game home stand. They play the San Jose Sharks on Tuesday.

Desperate for scoring, Sabres expected to load up a line with Eichel, Kane and Okposo

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The Buffalo Sabres could have a different look to their forward lines against the L.A. Kings on Tuesday.

Provided he’s feeling better and able to play, Kyle Okposo is expected to be put on the right side of a line with Evander Kane and 2015 second-overall pick Jack Eichel, per reports on Monday.

The Sabres are currently last in the entire league with 2.04 goals-for per game, so perhaps this move could help spark the offense. They could certainly use a boost from a trio of players with plenty of talent.

“Obviously when I was hurt I got to watch him a lot and learned a lot about how he plays,” said Eichel, per NHL.com. “I think he’s probably one of the most underrated players in our league, just how good he is with the puck, without the puck, in all areas of the game. He’s strong on it, he’s very skilled, and he can make passes.”

The Sabres landed Okposo as a free agent in the summer, spending quite a bit of money on the former New York Islanders forward.

So far, he has provided the Sabres with offense, leading the team with nine goals and 18 points. Buffalo also needs Kane to get going. He has struggled with injury and discipline this season, with only seven points in 16 games. Meanwhile, Eichel has played in only six games, re-joining the lineup at the end of November because of an ankle injury.

The Sabres currently sit last in the East, and 11 points out of the final Wild Card spot.