Cam Tucker

BOSTON, MA - FEBRUARY 9: Tim Schaller #59 of the Boston Bruins celebrates after scoring against the San Jose Sharks during the second period at TD Garden on February 9, 2017 in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)
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Bruins defeat Sharks in first game since firing Claude Julien

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Facing the top team in the Pacific Division, the Boston Bruins won their first game since firing coach Claude Julien on Tuesday.

The decision to fire Julien drew criticism for the timing of the news, which occurred during the New England Patriots championship parade the same day. But it also put Bruins management under further scrutiny for the club’s numerous shortfalls on its roster.

Yet despite the tumultuous times of the past few days and weeks, the Bruins came away victorious on a snowy night in Boston.

The Bruins capitalized early against the San Jose Sharks, chasing goalie Martin Jones from the net after taking a 3-1 lead in the first period. On this night, at least, the goals continued to flow as Boston scored a 6-3 victory to get back into the final wild card spot, getting a win for Bruce Cassidy in his debut behind the bench.

“I feel great. It’s been a busy two or three days. I’ll sleep well tonight. Everyone likes to win,” said Cassidy.

David Pastrnak scored twice, giving him 24 goals on the season.

The Bruins now lead the Philadelphia Flyers by a single point, and the New York Islanders by two points.

But despite their success tonight, Bruins president Cam Neely has acknowledged that this team’s roster still needs improvement.

“Getting in (the playoffs) gives you a chance, so yes, we want to get in, and I think it would be silly for us to say we’re not a playoff team with the bulk of the players that we have. Do we need to get better? One hundred percent,” Neely told a Boston radio station.

“The roster needs help. No question.”

Video: Red Wings’ Ericsson suffers broken wrist after questionable Backstrom hit

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The Detroit Red Wings will be without defenseman Jonathan Ericsson for the next six to eight weeks.

Ericsson suffered a fractured wrist, according to reports following Thursday’s game between the Red Wings and Washington Capitals, after he was hit from behind into the boards by Nicklas Backstrom during the first period.

Ericsson left the game and didn’t return.

Backstrom was given a minor penalty for boarding on the play.

He went on to score an empty-net goal and add two assists in Washington’s 6-3 victory. Bad news for the Capitals? Andre Burakovsky left the game with an apparent hand injury after blocking a shot and didn’t return.

Video: Phaneuf marks one-year anniversary of blockbuster trade by fighting Jamie Benn

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Today marked the one-year anniversary of the Dion Phaneuf trade to the Ottawa Senators.

He marked the occasion with a short-handed goal (his seventh goal of the season) and a lengthy fight with Dallas Stars captain Jamie Benn — both happening in the first period. That scrap lasted more than 40 seconds before both combatants finally gave up and let officials intervene.

Talk about an eventful opening 20 minutes for the veteran defenseman.

The New York Islanders are on a roll

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The New York Islanders continue their surge in the Eastern Conference standings, while the Philadelphia Flyers continue to struggle.

The two teams met Thursday, with the Islanders, having won seven of their last 10 games, taking an important 3-1 victory that gets them that much closer to a playoff position. After falling behind in the first period, New York came back for three unanswered goals.

Yes, the Flyers were able to snap their recent goal drought. Yes, they had Shayne Gostisbehere back in the lineup.

But their early lead didn’t last five minutes before John Tavares scored and the Islanders took this one over. They essentially put this one away on a goal from Casey Cizikas — surely a goal Philly’s netminder Steve Mason would like to have back.

While the organization has been in the news more for off-ice issues surrounding its future in Brooklyn, the Islanders have been on a roll on the ice since the firing of coach Jack Capuano.

The post-season now looks like an attainable goal for the Islanders. They move to within a point of Philadelphia, which has been bumped out of a wild card spot with the Bruins winning against San Jose on Thursday.

So, for now, the Bruins move into the final wild card spot in the East at 60 points. Philly stays at 59 points, and the Islanders are now only two points back of Boston for a playoff spot.

Getting crowded in that wild card race.

Video: For the first time this season, Joe Thornton (finally) scores against an NHL goalie

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It was only a matter of time, right?

Joe Thornton entered Thursday’s game with three goals this season. All three of those goals had been into the empty net, but he decided to change things up versus the Bruins.

Thornton beat Bruins goalie Tuukka Rask with a wrist shot from the faceoff dot in the first period. It only took him 55 games into the season to finally beat an NHL goalie.